After 22 years, Belgian fashion label A.F. Vandevorst has decided to close down. Its founders, designers An Vandevorst and Filip Arickx, announced the decision via Facebook on Friday, citing an uncertain business environment as the reason for the decision.
Spring/ Summer 2020 will be its final collection, the label added, while its office and its store in Antwerp, Belgium, will close in August.
The designers, who met at Antwerp's Academy of Fine Arts in 1987, explained the decision via a statement posted to the label's Facebook page: "The dynamics in the fashion world have changed. It is more challenging, uncertain and disruptive than ever before. We came to the realization that we won’t be able to maintain the same level of creativity and focus on storytelling rather than product."
The label had already opted for a change in strategy as it battled the rapid pace of the fashion industry's digital transformation: in 2017, it reduced its clothing business, discontinuing its ready-to-wear line for a stronger focus on footwear and seasonless apparel capsule collections.
The independent label presented its first collection in 1997, winning French talent prize the Vénus de la Mode in 1998. It became internationally known for its conceptual, directional style as well as its artistic installations, and showed regularly during Paris Fashion Week until 2017 with an appearance on the Haute Couture calendar as a guest member in 2018. The same year, the label celebrated its 20-year anniversary with a show reinterpreting and integrating archival pieces, simultaneously launching a book, Ende Neu.
Prior to launching the A.F. Vandevorst label, the Flemish couple, who have been married for over 20 years, both worked with designers from the Antwerp Six; Vandevorst at Dries Van Note and Arickx and Dirk Bikkemberg.
"We are happy to end in beauty and look forward to exploring new horizons," they added, hinting that while the label winds down, it won't be the end of the duo's creative pursuits just yet.