THE ANTWERP-BASED CONCEPT STORE IS SET
TO ROLL OUT ITS GOOD-LIFE PHILOSOPHY TO A
WIDER AUDIENCE WITH A BOTANICAL RANGE
SET TO LAUNCH AT COLETTE THIS WEEKEND.
PARIS — When it comes to selling a lifestyle, Ilse Cornelissens and Tim Van
Geloven, founders of Antwerp-based con-
cept store Graanmarkt 13, have taken a
charmingly literal approach to the game.
Entering their high-end store — a white
townhouse in a tree-lined square within
the city’s theater district that once served
as the grain market — feels like entering
someone’s home. “Stay as long as you
want” is the store’s tagline. The serene
decor boasts open spaces and huge,
linear atelier windows, mixing warm oak
parquet flooring, textiles, glass and metal.
The ground floor offers hand-picked items
from niche fashion and interior brands.
Clients can even book out the couple’s
former home, the Apartment, a luxury
two-story flat with hotel service on the
site’s upper two floors offering four
bedrooms, two bathrooms and a light-
drenched, glass-walled living room with
The idea, explained Cornelissens, is that customers could live the experience
of what Graanmarkt 13 stands for, from
morning to night. “We always wanted to
create a house gathering what we believe
reflects a nice lifestyle, from the food you
eat to the clothing you wear.”
When the couple acquired the building
in 2007, it was an abandoned property in
“a forgotten square” which in its lifetime
had also served as a bank and a Chinese
restaurant. “There were dirty mattresses
in the kitchen,” laughed Cornelissens,
adding that the building’s number — 13 —
also felt off-putting. But they took the leap
and set about entirely gutting the interior.
The three-year renovation by architect
Vincent Van Duysen included digging out
the basement for a restaurant. (Master
chef Seppe Nobels helms the stove, with
dishes featuring vegetables, honey and
herbs from the site’s rooftop garden.)
An elevator and a monumental, state-
of-the-art concrete staircase links the
floors with a beauty space on the first floor stocked with niche brands like Santa
Maria Novella and Susanne Kaufmann.
The duo this season reviewed their
approach to the store’s fashion offer, shift-
ing from exclusives with fashion brands
like Isabel Marant that “helped put us on
the map” to a focus on “post-cool” sea-
sonless collections offering an aesthetic
that they feel fits with the store.
Brands stocked include Sofie D’hoore,
Lemaire, Mackintosh and Extreme Cashmere, which offers “seasonless, sizeless
and genderless” collections. The home
selection includes silverware by Astier de
Villatte, ceramics by Atelier Antoine and
outdoor ovens by Weltevree.
They also stopped doing sales. Instead,
clients are invited to clear out their closets
for a sale held during one weekend per
season in the store. Proceeds are con-
verted to vouchers to be used in the store.
As retailers, Cornelissens and Geloven
acknowledge that their raison d’etre is
to shift product, but they have no desire
to encourage mindless consumption.
They recently set about reflecting on how
“no-waste minded” the store is, and how
“we should, step by step, change because
the world is changing.” Already they
swapped to a no-waste vegetable-minded
kitchen three years ago where Nobels
starts working from the vegetables.
“Even if you’re selling products, you
can approach it in a different way and be
more responsible,” said Geloven, conced-
ing: “It’s a slower business, the expected
turnover is slowing down, but of course
the margins will grow because we’re
selling at the right margin, and we give
the clothes more time. Before, collections
would be in the shop for three months
and then the sales were starting.”
“We all buy too much and it fills up
our closets and is just hanging there. It’s
reality,” echoed Cornelissens.“We kind of
want to educate that we are ruining the
world with what we’re doing, which was
also the basis of the restaurant. You don’t
have much choice when you eat with us,
which creates less waste.”
Next, they’re set to roll out their
conscious lifestyle philosophy to a wider
audience, turning Graanmarkt 13 into a
brand in the process, with a botanical
line inspired by their rooftop garden.
The range “for him, her and home” will
launch in the “mother of all concept
stores” Colette on Saturday.
The plan is to pull up in a food truck in
front of Colette and hand out tasters of
their soon-to-be-launched herbal syrups
developed with Nobels and herbalist Bart
Belmans, and finger food made using the
On sale inside will be the first Graanmarkt 13 scented candle — Come on Baby,
Light my Fire — developed with Cire
Trudon, and fragrance — I Am One of the
Deep Secrets of Nature — conceived with
British nose Lyn Harris of Perfumer H.
The range will then enter Graanmarkt 13
and the store’s web site on Nov. 25.
The idea for the perfume, said Cornelissens, is that “you can use on whatever
you want — your skin, the carpet....If you
like a scent, you like it everywhere.” It
features notes of lavender, patchouli,
rosemary, coriander, bergamot, cedar
wood and angelica root.
Also on offer will be packages of seeds,
or garden kits, based on three themes
developed with Nobels and Belmans.
“Maybe they’re symbolic of what is to
come,” hinted Cornelissens.