24h in Ghent: Love at first Bite
After going to the Fair, we hit the city of Ghent for a break. We went for some sweets & drinks in our two favourite places within walking distance of our flagship store. Alexander, Louise and Frederique went to ‘OR Coffee’ first.
They are located in this beautiful old building that really shows the splendour in architecture Ghent is so famous for. It was just love at first sight ! The glass façade is so attractive and striking it immediately draws you in. When you close the door behind you, this great sense of calmness falls upon you. The interior invites you to just be. In all its clarity it gives you the feeling of coming home. The feeling of togetherness.
That’s our goal when creating new clothes as well. With every piece we like to obtain that sense of comfort and ease. That sense of recognition and trust in our brand. That sense of belonging.
‘I am sitting in the morning, at the diner on the corner. I am waiting at the counter for the man to poor the coffee.’
Diners always remind us of Suzanna Vega’s song ‘Tom’s Diner’. A hit in the eighties about a person having coffee in a diner, just hanging around and observing the people around him and all their little actions and doings. The song really captures the purity and obviousness of the everyday. Notice the tone of the song, setting this special atmosphere highlighting the common daily actions. They become special because of the deep awareness and attention we bring to them. And coffeehouse OR really captures that vibe.
At AO76 we love that kind of observation. Life is in the details. And so is the beauty of our creations. It lies in all our colourful, playful quality details.
OR COFFEE HOUSE, YOU GO THERE...
You go there on a rainy day, when feeling a bit melancholic to have a chocolate pie to bring you back to your senses. You go there to meet a special friend you haven’t seen for years. You go there to have a meaningful conversation or just to meet another soul who’s there alone. You go there with a bunch of friends to enjoy time together or celebrate a key moment. You go there just to waste time in a place that brings you tranquillity. You go there when you want to work in peace, just sipping on your coffee while writing a novel. You go there to experience a little spark of joy.
You go to a place for certain reasons, and you wear a brand for certain reasons. Your kids love wearing our clothes because they want to be comfortable, because of the quality, because our Artwork puts a smile on their face, because they like our one-liner texts and get happy by our colours. Because they feel tough, cool and beautiful in our clothes and they can express themselves through them.
Tom Janssens & Katrien Pauwels, a lovely duo passionate about coffee, have their own OR coffee roastery with 4 bars, including the one in Ghent, and a school where they train baristas. They organise workshops and have a great knowledge of setting the perfect cup of coffee. On their site you can read all about their entrepreneurship in the wonderful world of coffee and their amazing fair trade story.
Here at AO76 we know how it’s like to start with a passion and create a business out of it. When in 1976 Etienne Vandemoortele started ‘American outfitters’ by importing US sportwear, his daughters caught the passion for fashion. Without any production or sales background, they began creating their own collections and through the years they lifted the family business to an authentic, well known Belgian high-quality brand, that is now run by the grandson Gaspard Poelman.
LITTLE FUN FACT
At OR you have to order at the counter yourself. It’s a different feeling and experience when you sit and get asked to order. It raises a nostalgic feeling. A feeling of respect and gratitude. Like when you go visit someone's atelier and watch where craftmanship takes place. You get humble and grateful you may order some of their creations.
We absolutely love these nostalgic touches at AO76, so we often refer to them through our collections. In our 2023 summer collection for example we have a reissue of our popular zebra print ‘from back in the days’, our fits are full of eighties influences and our knotted shirts and tees remind us of the playground on a sunny day.
DOWN THE ALLEY
Give kids a toy, and they want to grab your cell phone. Give them a playhouse, and they want to play with the vacuum cleaner. It’s just like that. So here at OR they also found a little corner of their own to fool around, outside one of the view windows. The girls got the giggles pretty soon, and poor Alexander was quickly infected with their laughing sickness. Could it have been the self made lemonades?
We translated that childlike stubbornness and playfulness into our summer collection by unique colourful artwork prints and authentic painting techniques.
While Louise & Frederique took the time ordering another juice, chatting and chilling at OR, Alexander was meeting his friends by our second sweet hotspot in Ghent: Bakery Bloch.
HISTORY IN THE MAKING
Everyone in Ghent knows the baking arts of the Bloch Family. They started in 1988 with their bakery, turned it into a Tearoom over the years, survived the second war and thrived at the eighties with their authentic products and slightly original offer. New specialities were launched every now and then and they brought ancient techniques and modern influences from all over the world together in a perfect balance. They got well known in Ghent and far beyond the boundaries of the historical city.
At AO76 we love family businesses, because they remind us of our own founding story. Plus they are so precious because they bring authenticity and quality to the streets of Ghent. Just like we with our flagship store which is just down the street form Bloch.
A NEW START
Unfortunately the Bloch family closed its doors in 2008. But there was no way the success and value of the Bloch bakery may be lost ! So in 2015 new passionate bakers took over the name with the intension to reset the standard and bring an ode to the Bloch family and its delicious pastries and unique recipes. The expectations were high amongst the people of Ghent. Could the new owners restore Bloch’s former glory? We send our kids to test it out ! And guess what? They loved it !
Every family business evolves. Some don’t survive and get buried, some are being taking over completely and changed, some get carried on by the next generation. AO76 is still a ‘Vandemoortele’ business and is lead into the future by the founder's grandson, preserving the unique style, production knowledge and quality AO76 is so well known for.
JUMMIE IN MY TUMMIE
The menu of the Bloch bakery is still quite the same, but the traditional recipes of the Bloch Family have been uplifted to new production techniques. It’s now a perfect match between two eras; one with knowledge and traditional products and one where modern baking processes and innovation set the tone.
As a company you have to keep renewing and evolving. Your passion has to meet the needs of the future generation to shine. Something we at AO76 take very seriously. As from May our team is finally complete with two new family members, so we are bundling all our knowledge, creativity and playfulness to keep dressing your kids in their own unique style.
SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE
Bloch bakery still brings people together, silences them to just sit and enjoy all the sweetness the world has to offer. And due to its amazing building, the new Block bakery is located in, it still radiates the same grandeur as from back in the days. Amazing ! Definitely worth the visit.