In 1976, Etienne Vandemoortele, father of 3, a man with a great feel for fashion and passionate about the USA, took a leap of faith and started importing USA sportswear to Belgium. He rented a small office in Heusden and organized a big garage sale to test the market. In only 3 hours his total stock was out the door. It was the beginning of Action Wear.
A decade later his youngest daughter Caroline joined her dad at the firm and became his right hand in business. When in 1995 Etienne became ill, Caroline called in the help of her two sisters. Together they transform Action Wear into ‘American Outfitters’. From the very beginning, their aim has been to bring unity in the world with positive designs, fair creations and kind actions.
1997 marks a black year in AO76 history. Founder Etienne Vandemoortele passed away and left his company in the hands of his three daughters. To make matters worse, by the end of the year their office in Destelbergen burned down in the middle of the night. But they never gave up! After a few difficult but successful years the sisters opened their own flagship store in de ‘Kortedagsteeg’ in Ghent. A former butchery, a beautiful building that’s still one of their iconic shops today. Since 2002 five stores followed: Antwerp, Knokke, Bruges, Brussels and Nieuwpoort.
The year 2011 marks the beginning of AO76's webshop. 5 years after that Caroline left the firm to pursue her dream of becoming a lifestyle and project developer. Also, since 2017 the brand’s focus has shifted to their kids collections, with the goal to start creating more for teens as well.
In the golden seventies sportswear colored the fashion industry big time! You may not remember, but Nathalie and Patricia’s father Etienne certainly felt inspired! He started importing these USA sports brands to Belgium, as one of the very first in the branche. Today we still have a lot of casual, easy-to-wear sportswear in our collection. We believe it’s the ideal solution for comfortable and conscious kids clothing that could also endure tough play of active children.
We create fair fashion with a positive message. Why should fluffy flamingo’s only be meant for girls and basketballs for boys? No more of that, we want kids to shine and feel beautiful in their AO76 outfits, no matter their age, background or gender! Our collections are styled with a twist and always contain a lot of special subtle details to make them one of a kind.
Kindness is an attitude, and it’s definitely reflected in our designs. Every single piece runs through a unique and authentic design process taking place 100% in house. We use high-quality materials, which is great for the planet and also for our children’s skin. We are passionate about graphic design and try to send positive vibes with every piece of clothing we make! Occasionally we co-work together with young Belgian artists for a special Artwork print or new inspiration.
But not just you, of course… We care about:
The people: We place an emphasis on ethical working conditions for our employees and makers. Therefore, we meticulously select our suppliers, track down their expertise and go above and beyond to make sure working conditions are as they should be.
The planet: What are we without our planet? We tend to take all the resources available to us for granted, so it’s about time we change that. One of our key messages is to appreciate nature around you. Be kind to the planet, because it has given us so much.
The clothes: AO76 is the opposite of fast fashion. Our clothes are designed and produced to be worn continuously. Our high-quality fabrics guarantee the long-term use and durability that your child deserves.
Just like you, we have big dreams. One of our top priorities is to run our business with respect and kindness to our planet by making more responsible choices every day. That’s why we’re actively striving to create eco-friendly and well-made product lines. How? On the one hand, by choosing high-quality materials that will last and on the other, by selecting who we work with to produce our clothing. High-quality fabrics are more expensive to produce, and products are more expensive when made by artisans being paid fair wages. But it’s our belief that the fashion industry has no other option. If you follow your intuition, you do too…
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