A new Lower East Side shop takes Belgian fashion to the max. By Meredith Fisher
Though designers like Dries van Noten and Ann Demeulemeester are global beacons of the Belgian garde, Flemish fashion is more than just heavy hitters. A bastion of the conceptual and progressive, Belgium continues to foster an abundance of young talent. And now, discovering those budding lesser-knowns won't require a trip on Brussels Air. Instead, descend the stairs to the Lower East Side's new beacon of Belgian style—Le Sous Sol.
The Rivington Street storefront is the creation of siblings Linda and Sarah Belkebir, who hail, coincidentally, from the south of France. So, why Belgium? "Because I like them and what they represent," says Linda, the older of the two and a stylist for the past 15 years. "And they're definitely under represented in America. We know the most famous ones but there are new generations of talented designers who need exposure."
Putting aside any Antwerp 6 inclinations, Linda sought designers who were more underground, hence the name, which translates to Under the Ground (also fitting of its subterranean locale). The talents she's uncovered range from the more known A.F. Vandevorst to Jessie Lecomte an up-and-coming structuralist based in Brussels. "All the designers we carry make their clothes locally and come from one of two schools: The Royal Academy of Antwerp or La Cambre in Brussels," Linda says. "What I like about their aesthetic is that it's elegant, feminine, and wearable but always with an edgy detail."
Such details of note include a one-of-a-kind black splatter print on a white silk dress by Jean Paul Knott, a 12-year veteran of YSL whose collection also includes pairs of flannel sarouels (Bedouin-esque pants). The majority of rack space is occupied by chunky "cocoons" from Vandevorst (ie: versatile knits that can be worn in multiple ways) and accessories by Eric Beauduin, who makes bags out of vintage leather jackets. Their offerings are edited to display only the best in Belgian fashion right now, which, of course, can change quickly. "I'm already ordering for next season," says Linda. "But any new designers will be a surprise."
Le Sous Sol, 137 Rivington Street, Lower Level, (between Norfolk and Suffolk streets), New York City; 212-477-7723.
A new Lower East Side shop takes Belgian fashion to the max.