F___ & C___: a lot of history in a completely new fashionable jacket
When I was still an angry, confused, curious teenager, I desperately struggled to step out of line. One of the ways I did that was by trying to find my own 'unique' style. A very crude first attempt at being somewhat fashionable is what lured me into the Fish & Chips store in the Kammenstraat.
The Kammenstraat was the place to be back then. All the cool kids bought their clothes in the little alternative stores that provided the 'freaks' and 'outcasts' with outfits that were clearly NOT from H&M or C&A.
Fish & Chips was a phenomenon from the very beginning. They distinguished themselves from all the other shops with their blatant and somewhat crude styling. The displays were legendary and are still referred to and remembered fondly by loads of locals who grew up here in the late nineties and early nillies.
From Eastpak to Globe shoes to Venom pants, Dickies and Obey shirts, if you had a streak for urban, Fish & Chips could hook you up.
In 2016 everything changed. Even though I had not been as frequent of a visitor as I used to be, I was shocked to hear the old shop was closing down and moving out. Only to be replaced by a screamy retailer. What was to happen to the shop that had been a safe haven and party place? The place that helped create Laundry Day?
Well it turns out I didn't have to look very far. Fish & Chips, or rather F___ & C___, simply moved across the street! The old G-store has been transformed into a brand new concept of a fashion landmark for Antwerp.
What struck me immediately upon approaching the store, was that despite the relocation, it still had that old welcoming vibe. Music coming out of the sliding doors and a bright, interesting display full of artsy pictures brought me straight back to that first time I walked into their stores so many, many moons ago. Definitely 15 again for a second there.
As soon as you enter though, the balance between the new concept and the desire to keep some of the old, well-known iconic features was baffling. The 'old Fish & Chips' had a huge amount of spraycans in every color you could think of, an element they thankfully decided to keep! The registers are totally worked into a kind of construction that can hold thousands - literally thousands - of cans of spraypaint.
Besides some of the 'core' brands that have been part of F&C's collection for 20 years are joined by newer, similar brands and as always still often reviewed and altered. Even though it might look a bit bare, there is a definite purpose to all the racks to be on wheels, as well as the changing booths. Nothing is really bolted down to provide room for art displays by local artists. They can be moved around in order to facilitate the works rather than substract from them. Just like the clothes, the artist's exposees are changed regularly. If you plan to pop in for a visit on a saturday, you might be lucky enough to spot some of our local Dj talents spinning the decks! Which, trust me, is a whole new shopping experience. Who doesn't like dancing while trying on that new fancy shirt that is made just for you? You've seen me use the full name and the F___ & C____ version without explaining myself, but I'm not sure I really have to. After all, the store has always invited you to give it your own meaning. Buy what you like and don't let anybody else do it for you. So feel free to pop in and fill in the blanks yourself!
More F___ & C___?
Text by Joke Tourné
Pics by Kevin Lau (Blaudruk)