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The Spotlight | Kim Stumpf

This month, the BoF Spotlight shines on Antwerp-based designer Kim Stumpf, who is making a name for herself in Belgium and beyond with her handmade, textured knitwear.
From Kim Stumpf A/W 2013 “Quatre Mains" | Source: Kim Stumpf
  • Veerle Windels

ANTWERP, Belgium — Starting with just a thread and an idea, Antwerp-based designer Kim Stumpf spins a world of her own. Her sculpted, textured knitwear is utterly personal, adhering to no fashion movement in particular. Instead, Stumpf lets the material lead the way. She works by intuition, turning or double-stitching whenever she feels the yarn demands it. Her process results in knitted shawls, dresses, stolas and coats that are delicate and wildly romantic, but also structured, which makes them difficult to categorise.

As a child, Stumpf was the kind of girl who could sit at home drawing in silence for hours. She attended the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Bruges, where she opted for a sculpture course, but eventually turned to fashion, landing at the famed Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp before shifting to Brussels to attend La Cambre. “I was too young when I tried Antwerp,” she recalls. “Moreover, I had no clue that most of the Japanese students had their own pattern makers and [seamstresses]. I absolutely started from scratch and was on my own.”

Despite her initial hiccups in Antwerp, Stumpf has fond memories of her years at La Cambre. "In Antwerp, it was all about drawing and going from 2D to 3D, but at La Cambre we got the opportunity, early on, to work on a Stockman mannequin. That kind of moulage is still my way of working today."

From a series of internships at Vivienne Westwood, Haider Ackermann and Robert Clergerie, Stumpf acquired important technical skills. She also worked at Natan with Edouard Vermeulen, the leading Brussels-based fournisseur de la cour, who provides the Belgian Queen Mathilde with the majority of her wardrobe.


But eventually, Stumpf decided she wanted to start her own line. During a trip to India, where she was inspired by visits to workshops where craftsmen still produced everything by hand, the dream became a more concrete plan. And when she won a local fashion prize, earning the sum of €5,000 (about $6,800 at current exchange rates), she invested the money in creating her very first shawls and scarves, which she produced in her living room.


From the Kim Stumpf Classics collection | Source: Kim Stumpf

By the end of 2010, Stumpf had opened a pop-up store in Antwerp, selling a handful of designs to eager clients who were drawn to her handmade touch. The profits from the pop-up helped to fund her first fully-fledged collection, comprised of ten coats and a number of scarves and shawls, which she took to Paris Fashion Week and was able to sell to both Belgian and international retailers.

Kim Stumpf is currently stocked at several influential stores, including Luisa Via Roma in Florence, Marijuana in Hong Kong and Stijl in Brussels. She also recently opened her first standalone store in Antwerp and is set to present her latest collection in Paris at Le New Black showroom, which will also sell her collection online. “I feel it’s time to venture out to new horizons,” says Stumpf. “And why not do it online too? I feel it’s a good moment to show my work outside Belgium.”

Currently, most of her work is still handmade by the designer herself, but Stumpf doesn’t discount the possibility of bringing in artisans to help scale production in the near future.


Kim Stumpf for BoF

For this month’s Spotlight, Kim Stumpf has designed a BoF logo featuring sculpted yarn, which is integral to her aesthetic and approach. “I also love the letter ‘O,’” says Stumpf. “To me, the ‘O’ is like a circle, where everything seems to fall into its place, exactly the way we want it. That’s how I feel right now. Opening my own store, working with the Paris-based platform Le New Black and growing my business slowly but steadily.”

“Having my own store now, I tend to think even harder about my own product and about how to run my business,” continued Stumpf. “I explain to everyone how the product is made and how every piece is unique. Just recently, an old couple came into the store. The woman must have been 80 years old but she fell in love with one of my coats. And her husband said: ‘My darling, I know you have lots of coats, but if you really like this one, I’ll offer it to you.’ Now isn’t that what it’s all about?”

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