Stylish Boutiques in Belgium
1st April 2013 Hoet in Belgium traces its optical origins to 1884, and the family legacy continues to this day. Patrick Hoet and his daughter Bieke oversee the design office with their team, and the Hoet stores are run by Lieselotte Hoet (Patrick’s daughter) and Lieselotte’s husband Frederik Ghesquière. The tenacity of the company is formidable, as they have endured World Wars and economic upheaval. Hoet faith in the future was confirmed when just after WW2, they opened a boutique in the charming setting of Bruges, a major attraction for tourists. The present location of the Brussels store opened seven years ago, and the unique interiors of both shops were created by Hoet.
The chic Brussels boutique (above) is a mecca for diplomats, European Union personnel and functionaries, expats and visitors, who enjoy roaming the spacious (220 square meters) interior for Hoet frames and accessories. Are there other labels in the boutique? “Very few”, said Frederik Ghesquière, “and rule number one: no visible logo’s. Rule number two: original design. Rule number three: quality. For example, we have Factory 900, Wollenweber – the horn collection – Reiz, Xavier Derome, and from our ‘classic’ client – Lindberg.”
As Bruges is a favourite summer destination in particular, the client profile is different. “We don’t present ‘tourist’ glasses,” says Ghesquière, “and over the years we have acquired some reputation in Bruges. When asked, the hotel concierge advises visitors to see our store. That is, of course, if the guests are not looking for ‘branded’ eyewear.”
Hoet has considered opening shops outside Belgium, but for the time being, limit themselves to having their own collections on display at selected shops in other locations. In-store events are held, particularly in Brussels, because there is more space, and Hoet participates in Design Brussels, and Modo Bruxelles which are yearly features. They often also invite creators from other sectors – art, fur and jewellery – to participate in a Hoet occasion.
Brussels and Bruges are both inspiring and interesting destinations – and even more so with the delightful Hoet boutiques to visit – a must on the Belgium itinerary! www.hoet.be JG