With most of them located in the historic town core, a lot of Bruges’ independent boutiques have the advantage of getting to present their carefully selected pieces in gorgeous Old World buildings. As for the fashion part, choices run the gamut from high-end personal shopping sessions to summer outlets at casual concept stores.
Set inside a gorgeous corner building, Ruth Niville and her three-year-old boutique have been part of the re-flourishing Sint-Jakobsstraat street area. Fashionistas looking for a helping hand on their way to an elegant wardrobe filled with well-chosen Belgian, French, Scandinavian and Italian labels have found the right address and a subtle style guide in Ruth. Fashion lovers can get a glimpse of the boutique’s understated colour palette, with the occasional splashy summer dress, on Ruth’s online shop.
Boetiek Ruth, Sint-Jakobsstraat 55, 8000 Bruges, Belgium, +32 50 69 88 99
Two doors over from Boetiek Ruth, Twee Meisjes has settled in a snug step-gabled home. Named after the joyful and slightly nostalgic classic by Raymond van het Groenewoud about two girls sitting and reading fashion magazines on a beach, the casual shop aims to capture the same atmosphere that the veteran musician did in his song. Characterful clothes by dozens of international and local brands are on display to put a spring in the customer’s step, with gaggles of colourful dresses and funny prints as regular staples. Founder Margriet has created a place for ‘unstrained and unforced shopping’, free from mandatory fashion trends but geared towards affordable, feel-good pieces. Adamantly ‘against boxes’, the women like to carry something for all types, ages and body shapes.
Twee Meisjes, Sint-Jakobsstraat 61, 8000 Bruges, Belgium, +32 50 33 16 61
A whole different kind of fashion bird is Parallax, the impeccable go-to for menswear in Bruges. Crisp white shirts and checkered variants populate its tables, and Boss suits are its shining stars. Laymen who don’t know how to tie a bowtie or arrange the handkerchief in their breast pocket will find kind teachers here. Parallax also offers tailor-made suits, complete with fabric choice and initials stitched into the lining, as well as more comfortable casual wear.
Parallax, Zuidzandstraat 17, 8000 Bruges, Belgium, +32 50 33 23 02
Dame de Pique
Much like the ‘Queen of Clubs’ that Dame de Pique translates to, the dream client of An Pyck’s feminine boutique on the Noordzandstraat is a fashionable lady with some spunk. Statement pieces in leopard print or a hellish blue are part of the repertoire, but so are quality knitwear by fair fashion label LN|Andes and flowy pieces by Dorothée Schumacher. Pyck who personally styles her guests with a jovial warmth does so in an elegant space, which includes a cosy try-out nook with a sofa and an oversized mirror for contemplating the look.
Dame de Pique, Noordzandstraat 16A, 8000 Bruges, Belgium, +32 50 34 30 34
‘Live, Love, Laugh’ is what Lilola stands for, and owner Nele and her team try to live up to that motto by offering to share their love for fashion with anyone who walks through the door of their boutique in the vibrant Langestraat. Lilola has become a dynamic platform for both young and established designer talent, where the homely Hygge touch is strong, and the Scandinavian accessories and scented candles are buyable. For a sample of the joy that the Lilola posse draws from the entire process, from selecting to styling, new arrivals by brands such as Manila Grace, SET and My Sunday Morning are shown off on their Facebook and Instagram pages on the daily. In 2014, Nele launched a sister venture known as The Concept Store, where special events such as summer outlets and late-night shopping take place in an equally warm atmosphere.
Lilola, Langestraat 47, 8000 Bruges, Belgium, +32 50 33 66 02
In 2016, Andy Geeroms grabbed people’s attention in Bruges with his unusual new venture. Not that Belgium wasn’t already familiar with a good concept store, but a stylish motorcycle-cum-coffee-cum-clothing shop was definitely a first. With coffee ‘black as oil’ and riding and casual gear for both men and women on offer, Hermanus has since become a solid presence on the motorcyclist’s radar. Riding gear – think fitted leather jackets and sumptuous gloves – is courtesy of Belstaff, Fuel, uglyBROS, Blitwell and other big-name brands, while casual gear includes Wrenchmonkees, Red Torpedo and the ubiquitous Vans.
Hermanus, Langestraat 51-53, 8000 Bruges, Belgium, +32 50 73 83 73
Even before they made their big splashes on the fashion world’s stage, Marine Goethals saw a big part of the Antwerp Six for what they were: style pioneers in the making. Her shop L’Héroïne has been a vanguard for designers – including Dries Van Noten, A.F. Vandervorst, Ann Demeulemeester and other avant-garde talents – like few others have in Belgium. Still today, Goethals and team member Anne-Marie continue her work of over a quarter of a century in a sleek, sunlit space in the heart of Bruges. A loyal client base knows these that ladies always combine their trusted perspective with a warm rapport.
L’Héroïne, Noordzandstraat 32, 8000 Bruges, Belgium, +32 50 33 56 57
Just outside the city centre, a sprawling fashion playground of 2,800 square meters stretches out. Villa Maria, located in what used to be 10 little houses, carries 140 (mostly high-end) brands and should keep even the most avid shopper occupied for a blissful afternoon. For those who have a hard time deciding what they want to try, a team of professional stylists stands at the ready. True daredevils keep an eye on Villa M, the establishment’s ‘testing lab’ for experiments and upcoming trends in high fashion. Besides clothing, Villa Maria has also put art, food, and shopping evenings with a gin bar on the menu.
Villa Maria, Gistelsesteenweg 18-28, 8200 Bruges, Belgium, +32 50 31 07 44