Based in a former townhouse in the centre of Ghent, Twiggy showcases a selection of beautiful, simple and honest brands, all masterfully curated by Barbara Beernaert.
The collections at Twiggy, including several TOAST pieces, allow customers to create outfits with a sense of ease from a library of unique fabrics, prints and colours. We speak to Barbara about her journey and the inspiration behind her family business, Twiggy.
Tell us about Twiggy and how it first began.
Twiggy is a family business. Both of my grandparents had a production plant in tailoring, and my parents took over their business. They opened the shop Twiggy in 1974.
I studied History of Art at university and never really had the intention to go into fashion. I was working for a contemporary art gallery in Brussels, but was full of youthful energy so I helped my mother in the shop on the weekends and on my free weekdays. After two years, I decided to take over Twiggy, and here we are today!
What does Twiggy mean to you?
I like to discover, to change and re-think. I have always seen the shop as a platform, a stage where fashion is a medium to create our world. Twiggy is like a little universe where we can look for new owners of our carefully curated pieces to be cherished in their closets and homes.
The past year of living in a pandemic has brought a lot of questions to our minds. It has made us realise that we are at a turning point where we want to rethink things like consumption. It has made us cherish personal contact as we built up a presence online, and we have taken an approach to slow down, to find the balance and to have less, but better. What does a usual day look like for you? Are there rituals and routines you follow?
I’m a very busy person, I have always found it a challenge to stop thinking, planning and searching. I’m always researching and I tend to let the job in hand absorb me. I’m also a really visual person, so my eyes are always busy too.
My latest challenge has been to find more peace in just being and not doing! I like to close my eyes and listen to the meditation app of Sam Harris, Waking Up. Other happy moments in the day for me are the combination of sun and our hot shower outside in the morning, having a local beer in the evening or practicing yin yoga with my daughter.
What sort of things do you look for when choosing items for your collection? Are there certain colours and fabrics you are drawn to?
At Twiggy we showcase a selection of brands, and we always want to pass on creative, exciting feelings to our customers through the pieces we choose. The presentation of a new brand, the atmosphere in a showroom, and the people behind the brands are important factors to me.
I am personally really drawn to comfortable clothes, especially oversized pieces that are slightly masculine. But it is important to add a touch of femininity to the silhouette too. Whether that's a graceful attitude, a warm voice, a soft smile or a transparent blouse and feminine shoes. The real comfort to a piece comes once it has been washed and worn - an unpredictable and personal beauty.
We love to start over every three months at Twiggy. The changing of the weather with the seasons always brings fresh ideas. A new assortment of brands and colours take over the shop and these moments can be magical.
Pulling together the last two seasonal collections has been really difficult. Everything was chosen online through films, pictures and Zoom meetings. Some brands sent us swatches of fabrics - it makes such a difference being able to touch and feel a garment. Do you think about the life cycle of your clothing?
I really believe in giving my clothes a good long life. The clothes of mine that become too worn get a new meaning as I sleep in them, or pass them on to my daughter, sister or best friend!
For the store, we are always searching for good quality materials and progressive, sustainable brands. Most importantly we try to educate our customers on choosing timeless items that really fit them, in the hope that they will keep them forever.
Photographs by Valerie De Backer.
A curation of the TOAST SS21 Collection can be found at Twiggy, situated in Ghent, Belgium.