Bruxelles based concept store Hunting and Collecting was founded in February 2010 by fashion editor Aude Gribomont and event producer Niels Radtke.
This combination in itself makes Hunting and Collecting an unique player in the market: a place where fashion, lifestyle and events come together in harmony. The store offers a mix of established brands and products of newcomers.
Los Bangeles teamed up again with Rotterdam based agency Fourteen, who delivered us the interview with Aude en Niels about their philosophy and their view on success and entrepreneurship.
Can you shortly describe the concept behind Hunting and Collecting? Where did the inspiration come from for the concept?
Our vision and store design is always evolving, we change many times during the seasons, nothing is fixed nor screwed everything is mobile and can evolve in order to display the products in various ways. Basically the modularity of the store reflects the constant change of fashion and lifestyle. We see our store more as an editorial, like a magazine.
Hunting and Collecting is what humans have been doing for thousands of years, today the need of survival has shifted, we do not go out and hunt a bear or gather fruits to be successful in life, our image and style has become a vital factor in how we survive. We need to be able to adapt faster and faster and so does our store. We offer products for people that are evolving within their own time.
Besides the product we love the live events, we organise many events +-10/12 a year. These live events are focused on designers and their vision and style, exhibitions and parties, and sometimes huge parties.
When running a concept store there’s the risk of having too little of everything? Which key factors decide what brands and products to carry to make a complete and harmonious collection for every season?
We use many ways. It often happens organically, we scan everything we see, people tell us about a brand, designers contact us. It is about making the right choice, predicting what the market is ready for and betting on the horse to want to win the race. It demands mixture of experience, knowledge of all the actual trends and a certain gut feeling that tells you when something has that little extra that you are looking for. We see ourselves more as cultural actors then retailers and we make our choices based on what contemporary culture demands and produces. We curate this into a compelling whole, hence the importance in having a store/platform image. It is your name, taste, visual identity and image that binds it all together.
We are looking for what is relevant in today’s lives and lifestyle and when we think the product is right, then we go for it.
What factors contributed to your success and what is it that distinguishes you from competitors in the market?
We have done our project in our way, without looking too much around us, we worked 16h a day 7/7 the first 3 years and when we looked up we saw that we achieved something we did not expect but hoped for. We have been relatively early in the game, 5 years ago, and we have a certain eye for things given our personal backgrounds. We look for a certain notoriety in the way a certain style or look is handled by the brand or the designers. Many brands make a certain style, high street chains copies it, and we are looking for the one that makes THE right product, the original idea, the best executed and the most desirable. We work hard to be the first to adopt this for our early adopter customers.
We are looking for what is relevant in today’s lives and lifestyle and when we think the product is right, then we go for it. Our offer varies between first time collection to luxury established designers and we are truly connected to the nightlife scene through our events and parties.
It is the era of concept stores, with a lot of newcomers entering the market. How do you see the future of retail in general and the future of concept stores specifically?
Indeed we see more and more of these kind of stores that try to be unique. The thing is that many stores just mix products and call themselves a concept store, which is somehow true, but the real power lies behind the creational taste, in being a child of your time and having the right connection for getting the right product at the right time. That takes time, skill and vision. The future of concept stores will be even more in specialization and being local again in the right area. The future of retail: the mass product will be online and the tailored service retail will be in store. Also more and more brands pull the distribution back to themselves and only work with a selection of partners to showcase the product. The perfect examples of this are Apple and H&M, who control the whole chain themselves, no middleman and very high margins. So privately run retail platforms might become a luxury service for those who know exactly what they want.
What’s your tip to young entrepreneurs entering the retail market?
Start whenever you want to, be fearless but careful, whenever you are ready, get a long term vision and get yourself a good team that starts with you at the same time, and work as hard as you can, as you are supposed to love what you do. Pray to be at the right time in the right place. Do not imitate! If you fail go for it again. It takes time to become a name that people trust.
For this feature we interview inspiring people in fashion, design and lifestyle: who would you like us to interview next?
Nicolas Lefebure, a young and upcoming DJ and photographer, we work a lot with him and he is really talented and has a strong vision.
All photos by Maxime Fauconnier.