What Friends Are For
Interactivity isn’t just a Web app anymore. Actually—although it seems fanciful to remember—interacting was something people used to do in real time, face to face, without any mediation of binary code. This was back when the word “friend” was a noun, meaning someone you liked to see on a regular basis, as opposed to the current verb form, having to do with actions undertaken on Facebook. How simple we used to be! Anyway, A.F. Vandevorst designers An Vandevorst and Filip Arickx are taking the idea of interaction back to its roots as they prepare to launch both their first-ever guerrilla store in Antwerp and a diffusion line, called A Friend. “Our friends were saying, hey, you know, we like A.F. Vandevorst very much, but it’s too expensive,” explains Arickx. “So we began to work on pieces that could cost less, and as we did so, we got eight of our friends together to advise. They looked at the designs, came to fittings…” Debuting in the States for Fall ’10, A Friend is making its first appearance at the A.F. Vandevorst pop-up that opens on December 17. Designed with some help from the curators at the Dr. Guislain Museum—a museum dedicated to the history of the care of the mentally ill, housed in a psychiatric institute in Belgium—the shop is the first standalone A.F. Vandevorst boutique, and its opening marks the start of a series of pop-up shops for the brand. As Arickx explains, the store also presents A.F. Vandevorst fans with the opportunity to interact with the design of A Friend. “We’re putting a box in the store where people can drop off items that they like, that they’ve destroyed in some way and aren’t using anymore,” Arickx says. “They will write their names, addresses, and a description of the aspect of the garment that they like—the neckline, or something.” At the end of six months, Vandevorst and Arickx will go through the box, and if they wind up using a donated item as source material for an A Friend piece, the donor will receive both the original back, and a gift of the new piece it inspired. The Antwerp A.F. Vandevorst store is scheduled to close March 31; the box will travel with the brand. Friendship, it seems, has no fixed address.