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Impeccable sense of style seems to run in Italian people’s DNA. The country has given the fashion world some of its biggest and most influential players and, while factories, design schools, and artisanal workshops are spread all across the country, it all comes together in Milan. The city sits at the epicenter of Italian fashion and as one of the four fashion capitals of the world, it is always one step ahead when it comes to trends. Shopping here is not just about buying stuff, it’s about experiencing that La Dolce Vita philosophy that Italians swear by.
Naturally, Milan is home to some of the chicest and most unique stores in Europe, including the very first “concept store”. Here, the Made in Italy label is not just attached to artisanal items sold as souvenirs to tourists visiting the country. It is a source of national pride and a guarantee for high-quality goods, from vintage to modern department stores, make it a priority to promote Italian-made clothing and accessories.
Here, we rounded up some of the best places to go on a Milan shopping spree.
10 Corso Como
Credited as being the first “concept store,” 10 Corso Como is the brainchild of former fashion editor Carla Sozzani. Initially, she intended it to be only an exhibition space where she was hoping to create a “living magazine.” That was 29 years ago. Now, stepping into 10 Corso Como, which these days is comprised of a coffee shop, a restaurant, a boutique hotel, a bookshop, and a gallery, feels exactly like what Sozzani intended it to be—an impeccably edited and very stylish “living magazine” that is being updated with new finds on a daily basis. Expect to find chic pieces by established brands like Etro, Versace, and Marni as well as to see some up and coming names from the world of fashion, beauty, art, and design. 10 Corso Como, Milan
Four years ago, sisters Mariangela and Titti Negroni started Funky Table, the quirky interior design store nestled in the heart of old Milan, to offer its customers “a new language in decorative expression.” That message, incredibly colorful and eclectic, was so well received that the sisters are now collaborating with retail behemoths like the French Le Bon Marché, throwing parties for Ikea and Benetton, and manage a community of over 43 thousand Instagram followers.
A visit to the store feels like taking a trip around the world—woven plates from Rwanda, hand-painted stainless steel bowls from Northern India, tableware from Portugal, colorful baskets from Mexico. And while the décor pieces may all come from different corners of the globe, they all have one thing in common—they fit the eccentric aesthetic of Funky Table. Via Santa Marta, 19, 20123 Milan
If you are short on time, head straight to La Rinascente, just steps away from Milan’s most notable sight. The department store has been around for 150 years and in 2016 it won the prestigious award for "Best Department Store in the World" at the Global Department Store Summit in Switzerland.
Rinascente’s goal is to promote Italian style through Made in Italy brands (designer Giorgio Armani started his career in the store). You will find 11 floors of women’s, men’s, and children’s wear as well as beauty, jewelry, and accessories from the best Italian and international luxury brands. Piazza Duomo, Milan
Wait and See
If you’re tired of stores that ooze a minimalist, almost sterile vibe then you’ll love Wait and See which is anything but minimal—both in terms of interior design and merchandise. This cool concept store situated in the artistic 5Vie neighborhood is owned by Uberta Zambeletti, a designer by training who after years working for the likes of Missoni, Max Mara, Anna Molinari, and Etro, created this little gem of a store.
Shop Zambeletti’s selection of thick-rimmed oversized sunglasses, printed jumpsuits, straw bags, and resort-ready maxi dresses. Via Santa Marta 14, 20123 Milano
La Double J
Go bold or go home, that’s how we’d describe La Double J’s aesthetic. While the store was launched by American expat LL Martin, it celebrates all that’s Italian. And it does so in the most fun way possible—through the most eye-popping prints. While La Double J was initially a place to shop vintage clothing and jewelry, it now also offers pieces by the store’s in-house label. On our shopping list—a maxi t-shirt dress in silk twill sporting a psychedelic vintage print in green, pink, and orange, a backpack with drawstring nautical cords in a 70s navy and white pattern, and a large linen floral-printed tablecloth. Piazza Arcole, 4, 20143 Milano
You may be familiar with the timeless silhouettes of forte_forte—the Italian brand was founded in 2002 by Giada Forte, Paolo Forte, and Robert Vattilana. But their new Milanese store offers so much more than just a shopping experience. The space feels more like an art gallery where the focus is not so much on keeping the shelves packed with merchandise but putting them in context by displaying only a few pieces among glass sculptures by Massimo Lunardon, organically shaped mirrors and racks, and a sketch of a nude woman by Belgian artist Didier Mahieu. Beige-hued marble, mint green walls, and vintage-inspired suede furniture make for the chicest backdrop for the label’s classic pieces. Via Ponte Vetero, 1, 20121 Milano
The word vintage, in the context of fashion, usually brings to mind dated silhouettes. This is exactly the notion that Tug is challenging. Yes, it is a vintage store in that you can find pieces such as 70s herringbone dresses, a Japanese kimono from the 80s, or a trapeze mini dress from the 60s, but none of them look “vintage” (or, you know, old). The common thread here is actually a contemporary look. Tug founders Miriam and Francesca look for unique fashion and lifestyle pieces that, despite being created decades ago, still look modern. Corso Cristoforo Colombo, 11, 20154 Milano
Al Bazar, a menswear store that has been around for more than 50 years, doesn’t need elaborate marketing campaigns to stay relevant—its owner Lino Ieluzzi, a street style icon, does the job pretty well himself. He is probably the store’s most influential and talked-about face, one that has gathered 108 thousand followers on Instagram thanks to his sartorial, authentically Italian style. He pulls off pieces many men wouldn’t even dare hang in their closets like a double-breasted a pastel pink suit jacket.
And this is exactly what you can expect to find in Al Bazaar—elegant, impeccably tailored suits, casual shirts meant to be worn the Italian way (ahem, with at least a button or two left undone), leather loafers, belts, ties. So, if you’re after an Instagram-perfect outfit, Al Bazaar is the way to go. Via A. Scarpa, 9 20145 Milano