VIER Co-Founder Bob Follens Sheds Light on Raf Simons' Favorite Skate Shop

Follens talks Antwerp, collabs, his shop’s evolution, Calvin Klein’s newest addition and more.

Fashion
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At just 30-square-meters, you’d be hard pressed to find a skate shop as tiny as VIER Antwerp. Juxtaposing the space with one of the best selections around (Nike, Gosh Rubchinskiy, NEIGHBORHOOD, Champion, Converse, FPAR, Stussy, The North Face and Vans are just the tip of the iceberg), VIER has grown exponentially since its establishment back in 2010. It also just so happens to be a personal favorite of fellow Belgian — and newly appointed Chief Creative Officer of Calvin Klein — Raf Simons, who never hits the road sans VIER hoodie.

As VIER continues to make a name for itself, co-founder Bob Follens recently sat down with Jian Deleon for WGSN, reflecting on his store’s eclectic stock, its evolution over the past six years and VIER’s stomping grounds in Antwerp’s Fourth District.

While an excerpt appears below, Deleon’s interview with Follens can be read in its entirety over at WGSN.

Your name is inspired by the Fourth District of Antwerp, what is this neighbourhood known for?
We are located in the heart of the fashion district in Antwerp. It is an area of mainly smaller independent retailers that are into streetwear next to some of the biggest names in fashion like Dries Van Noten, for example. With our shop we kind of want to take the best from both worlds—so this is why you can find iconic skate/street brands like Stüssy, Thrasher, Powell Peralta, and Fuct SSDD next to designers like Raf Simons, Gosha Rubchinskiy, Ganryu, and Tim Coppens.

At just 30-square meters, our shop is really small. With VIER Antwerp, we try to bring things that you can combine with different styles, whether it’s a Raf Simons jacket or a pair of Dickies pants.

In the five years you have been open, how has the shop evolved?
We first started only with the shop and were considered as very niche: Many times people would not know the brands we carried or what we stood for. The reason we started was mainly because felt something was missing in between street/skate and high-end fashion.

Most of the time you would either find a sneaker or skate shop, or a high-end designer shop where you feel uncomfortable to walk in. Over time, people got more used to what we are doing because they see it in other countries, or through social media, so for many it is not as weird of a concept as it used to be.

How has the retail scene changed? What made you want to start the in-house line?
In the end, we just wanted to have place where anyone would feel welcome—very easy to walk in with a laid-back atmosphere—a place where you can simply find good stuff in a relaxed setting. Our apparel was something that grew slowly on: It first started with our “Antwerp” logo. People liked it, and so we started doing more and more. Now that we’re receiving requests from other interesting shops that want to carry our brand, we’re looking into how we can manage this on a production level and distribution-wise.

What’s the connection between fashion and culture among your customers?
For us, it is really important to have a connection with different subcultures, as they are often very influential on trends and fashion in general. However, skate is only one of our influences as we have a very differentiated type of customer, a thing that we are very proud of. VIER brings a mix of skate/streetwear and more high-end brands and designers. By doing this, we want to attract the young skater and at the same time a more grown-up customer.

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