Much of Antwerp's reputation for edgy chic comes from its clothing designers; dedicated followers of fashion consider the city in a league with Milan and Paris, and Antwerp-based couturiers regularly appear in the international glossies. Credit for this development goes to the so-called Antwerp Six (students of Linda Loppa from the class of 1981 at Antwerp's Fashion Academy) and in equal measure to the new wave of talent that has more recently stormed the catwalks. Ready-to-wear by stalwarts Ann Demeulemeester, Dirk Bikkembergs, Dries Van Noten, Martin Margiela, and relative newcomers Raf Simons, Véronique Branquinho, and Wim Neels command high prices. However, in the shopping area south of Groenplaats, prices are less astronomical. And, of course, the Diamantwijk is prime territory for glittering precious stones. Bear in mind that pretty much everything grinds to a halt on most Sundays, but unlike the rest of Belgium, on the first Sunday of the month, retailers' shops doors are miraculously flung open and customers are welcomed inside. In January and July, these special shopping days signal the start of the sales.
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