Ready-to-Wear Baroque

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If you’ve ever wanted to own a piece of architectural history, “Handymade in Brussels,” a new collection of totes, will give you the opportunity to do just that—all while being sustainably in vogue. Belgian designer Pierre-Emmanuel Vandeputte has created four hundred eighty bags from the canvas that covered the buildings in Brussels’ Grand Place during renovations in 2015.

The canvas, printed with a life-size reproduction of the Grand Place’s Late Gothic and baroque architecture, produces a surprisingly harmonious color scheme which looks more intentional than the typical recycled eco-tote. Each of the bags has a metal label numbered from one to four hundred eighty, which corresponds to an accompanying map of the building’s façade, showing the exact section of the Grand Place the bag is printed from.

“Handymade in Brussels” is one of three projects commissioned by the city to reuse the Grand Place’s canvas. Baya, a collective of architecture students, is creating yurts from the material for use by non-profit organizations, and Out of the Box International, an advocacy organization, is using the canvas for youth art workshops.


Vandeputte’s bags were made with the support of MAD Brussels and l’Association Socialiste de la Personne Handicapée, and are manufactured by L’Ouvroir, a not-for-profit which employs people with disabilities.

For those who live outside Belgium and wish to have one of these eco-chic, limited-edition bags, there is a bit of bad news: they are, unfortunately, only available for purchase in-person at L’Ouvroir’s headquarters in Brussels. We’ll just have to admire from afar.