Supermarket, the new ethical concept in Brussels

Le lieu qui accueillera le nouveau concept bruxellois

At the dawn of a collective awareness, more and more ethical brands are surfacing. They are taking their place in the fashion industry but also in the decoration and cosmetics industries. Indeed, until a few years ago it was difficult to know where to turn to consume more ethically. But now there are places like Supermarket, which promote these brands. This new ethical concept, which will take place in Brussels during the month of October, has opened its doors to us. After that, we were able to discuss with its three founders: Marine, Katherine and Julie. They told us about their new contemporary ethical space, temple of design, decoration and slow fashion. But not only that.

Les trois créatrices de
The three founders of
Hello! First of all, what is the concept of Supermarket? If I understood correctly, there are several parts?

Yes, we wanted to open this ethical space and we saw it as a modern space for better consumption. It is based on a fashion and decoration proposal, mainly. A little bit lifestyle too.

There is the first part with the shop part where you can find local creators. Then there is the classical second hand and vintage part. The part creators will be composed of ethical and sustainable brands. But not everybody can afford it and/or is not ready to put so much money for clothes. The prices are certainly justified when you know everything behind it, but not accessible to everyone.

To counter this, we had the idea to create a concept of sales depot of second hand. To make it more affordable and thus reach more people. We want to reach a perhaps younger population as well who will eventually be the ones who will consume in the future. Moreover, the vintage is still in fashion today. We have a collaborator who will select capsule collections with pieces sorted according to the vintage style of the moment. On the other hand, for the second hand, everyone can come and deposit their clothes. In fact, we have a list of brands that we take back or not. We are mainly looking for mid-range clothes. We are looking for a style that corresponds to what we will sell so it's quite minimalist and that we can wear every day. Pieces that we can wear every day at prices that are neither too expensive nor too low.

For the pieces that will not be sold but are in perfect condition, we will proceed to a donation to an association. It is an association with which we will have a partnership. The person who deposits them will even be able to proceed directly to the donation if he wishes. This system will be put in place shortly. The fact of making donations is part of our principle of not throwing anything away and let everything be used. Without forgetting the solidarity and social aspect which is dear to us. Helping people in need, especially during this period, is important. We are also in discussion with a brand that recovers fabrics in order to make new pieces.

Then, the second part is much more centered on the creation of events. For example, we organize a vide dressing room every first Sunday of the month. These are vide dressings that were already organized at the Café Flora in Saint-Gilles before the lockdown. We will repeat the experience here. The first one will take place on September 13. Then, it will be from the November 1st, every first Sunday of the month. In addition, all the designers who will exhibit here will be able to use the space to organize private sales or collection launches, for example. We will also have a disk that will be installed here. Once a month, he will do a live show with a DJ who will come to choose his set from the selection of vinyls.

Finally, the third part consists of the workshops. Twice a week, you can attend a class of yoga: the Wednesday evening and the Sunday morning. In addition to that, once a week, probably on Thursday evening, there will be a workshop. We will have for example someone who will come to do ceramics, upcycling, cosmetics, etc.. There are plenty of possibilities and as time goes by we will find new activities and new speakers.

It's quite varied, but as everything is based on sustainability, we're going to stay on creative and above all sustainable things. That is to say that we really want people to be able to leave at the end of the workshops with a finished object, and then to be able to reproduce it at home. And even transmit the technique afterwards. Or the idea of having a finished object that we could eventually offer for the holidays, like a unique gift. We saw during the confinement that a lot of people had learned how to sew or to tinker, for example. So we thought it made sense to offer people the gift they could give at the Christmas and New Year's Eve celebrations.

Do you have specific criteria for a brand to be exhibited?

Yes, there are criteria. But what they are mainly asked to be local so Belgians or at least Europeans. They are also asked to be small business because the goal is to promote small brands and to buy from small entrepreneurs. Especially after the lockdown. And if not, they will at least have to meet the conditions of being ethical and sustainable.

And how was this project born?

It was born out of our separate activities. We each have an activity on our side. For example, I have been making jewelry for 7 years. Katherine has an ethical store and a webshop with items from sustainable and local brands. It's mainly clothing and accessories. As for Julie, she has a second hand webshop for children, based on a drop-sale concept.

Our three projects are therefore based on small business, ethics and responsible consumption. So it seemed logical to us to join forces to create something bigger and to make our personal projects something common. The concept was born just before the Covid-19 crisis and then the lockdown accelerated things.

We came to this project because we had already worked together and in particular on a designer destocking event. It was an event with this desire to continue selling dormant stock to help designers get rid of surplus production and help the consumer buy a designer piece at a lower price. It was part of this anti-waste concept. We will continue to propose it here.

So after that, we also realized that we needed to work as a team. And to create a concept around promoting creators and having exchanges with people in the same situation as us. Especially since we are former colleagues who are quite energetic and work very well together.

Why this particular concept?

We realized that we had concepts and common values and especially that could be combined into one. It was after we clicked during our previous work in a big sign that really opened our eyes to the need to be more careful.

This solidarity and collaborative side also pushed us to create Supermarket. Especially after the crisis and the fact that small brands find themselves damaged and find it difficult to recover. We thought that we could collaborate and put each other forward. For example, upstairs is a coworking space. Designers can come to work here and why not offer their products for sale and think, why not, about a collaboration between them.

Nowadays, we also see that customers are more and more demanding ethical consumption. Even if in Belgium it is not yet hyper present because there is a certain price to justify as well, a price that not everybody is ready to put. That's why the concept of deposit-sales is also being developed. The aim is to allow everyone to consume sustainably according to their means.

Can brands or speakers contact you to be exhibited or organize workshops or do you contact them yourself?

Yes, of course. We obviously want to promote people and brands.

Here, we contacted brands at the beginning because nobody knew we were there but of course they can contact us. We're starting to get some of them to contact us via Instagram.

At the brand level, the goal is that collections and brands vary. These are six-month contracts that can be extended or not. It's the same thing with the people involved. We really want to diversify prices, activities and brands.

One last quick question, if someone were to ask you for advice on how to begin a transition to a more sustainable lifestyle, what would it be? 

But otherwise, we too are in an ethical transition space and therefore we are not here to give lessons. We are here to invite and to propose a new way of consuming without making people feel guilty. We don't want to give lessons, we want to give advice and invite people to make efforts little by little. Workshops are good for that, because it allows you to get initiated little by little and consume in a more ethical way. And if we're not perfect even like that, then it doesn't matter.

But otherwise, we too are in an ethical transition space and therefore we are not here to give lessons. We are here to invite and to propose a new way of consuming without making people feel guilty. We don't want to give lessons, we want to give advice and invite people to make efforts little by little. Workshops are good for that, because it allows you to get initiated little by little and consume in a more ethical way. And if we're not perfect even like that, then it doesn't matter.

A final word?

We still have a lot of upcoming projects. This is what we were looking for here too, the fact that on the same concept we can do a lot of things and evolve according to what we want to do and what we like in the future. In the first place, we wanted our activity to have a sense and to be able to evolve in time and according to people's needs. Our project has a framework but no limit.

Le lieu qui accueillera le nouveau concept éthique bruxellois
The place that will host the new ethical concept in Brussels


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