Antwerp is known as a true fashion city. Quite a lot of today's famous designers graduated from the Antwerp Art Academy. Credit for the phenomenon goes to the so called Antwerp Six, and in equal measure to the designers who trained them, Linda Loppa. As the story goes, six graduates of the Antwerp Academy from the years 1980 and 1981 rented a truck and drove to the London fashion week. After taking the show by storm, the members of the group became brand names around the world - literally. The six are Dries Van Noten, Dirk Bikkembergs, Dirk Van Saene, Ann Demeulemeester, Walter Van Beirendonck, and Marina Yee.
In the glamorous world of fashion, the Antwerp Six have shown notable staying power. Their success has helped to turn Antwerp into a hive for young designers (Stephaan Schneider, Raf Simons, and Kaat Tilley are more recent standouts) and make it a fixture on the fashion map.
Opposite Central Station you will find China Town. The Van Wesenbekestraat and the Coninckplein boast a variety of specialised shops and supermarkets selling Chinese and Thai foods and many other exotic products.
The shopping streets just to the south and the west of the Meir stock a wide range of exclusive fashion labels as well as utility articles. This area comprises the Huidevettersstraat, the pedestrian de Wilde Zee (with the Wiegstraat, Groendalstraat, Schrijnwerkersstraat, Korte Gasthuisstraat and the Lombardenvest), the chic and and amazingly varied Schuttershofstraat and the Quartier Latin, dominated by the beautifully restored Bourla theatre.
Do not miss the brand-new Horta complex, which has recently appeared near the Stadsschouwburg (theatre) (Hopland side), with its stylish boutiques, an art gallery and a grand cafe with large art-nouveau dining area. Elements from the Brussels Volkshuis (social centre), built to a design by Victor Horta, have been incorporated into the grand cafe.
Lovers of bric-à -brac, curiosities, old books and prints should target the little shops in the Hoogstraat and the Kloosterstraat, the Wolstraat and the Minderbroedersrui. The Eiermarkt, Melkmarkt, Korte Koepoortstraat, Lange Koepoortstraat, Klapdorp and Paardenmarkt is one long chain of shopping streets. Sint-Katelijnevest is the shopping street specialising in electronic equipment, computers and all kinds of office requisites.
The trendy Zuid district is another good area to explore. The Kasteelpleinstraat is particularly good for kitchen requisites, plants and items for the garden. The Volkstraat is lined with shops selling toys, hand-made decorative lighting, bric-à--brac and curiosities. The Graaf Van Hoornstraat and the Museumstraat are synonymous with antiques and accessories for the interior. The Vlaamse and Waalse Kaai area combines modern galleries with design shops.
Markets can be found on the Theaterplein (at the end of the Arenbergstraat). On Saturday from early in the morning until about 4pm you can find there mainly fruit and vegetables but also fish, spices, cheeses, plants, clothes. On Sunday there is a market, until 1pm, and this one includes a flea market. At Sint-Jansplein you can go to the market on Wednesday and Friday in the morning.