The designer discount shopping secrets of Milan
Milan may not be the prettiest of the world’s fashion capitals. Outside of the centro storico area of the city, many complain it is too industrial and grim, but what Milan lacks in terms of physical aesthetics, it more than makes up in other ways. Milan is beyond par in its panache, glamour and high voltage Italian style and its excellent shopping and night life. The Milanese take on “la dolce vita”, and it can also lay claim to being home to some of the finest specimens of Italian beauty! Milan is, of course, also home to the majority of Italy’s world famous fashion houses.
Earlier this year, The Upcoming travelled to Paris to bring to you our austerity shopping guide to that other great fashion capital. This time we offer you a little escapism and an insight into experiencing Milan and its designer labels and still adhere to the confines of a budget.
Milan, like Paris, offers a veritable trove of shopping options that make Italian high fashion accessible to most all budgets (at least for those in the know; it’s a secret the Milanese would probably rather you didn’t). If you have a car, from Milan it is easy to get to northern Italy’s numerous outlet shopping centres, however, most visitors to the city will not have time to dedicate a whole day to travelling to and browsing these shopping centres. Fortunately, armed with our guide, visitors to Milan can shop away to their hearts’ content for bargain Italian designer labels right in the heart of the city.
Il Salvagente, 16 Via Fratelli Bronzetti
A perennial local favourite in the east of the city whose name means literally “lifesaver”. It is like a rummage sale of Italian designer fashion. Hidden behind store fronts and apartment buildings (the entrance is located in a courtyard), this cavernous gem encompasses three floors of designer discounts for men, women and children with labels such as Dolce & Gabbana, Gianfranco Ferre, Just Cavalli, Dsquared, Burberry, Moschino and Cesare Paciotti. Be sure to check opening times as they can be variable.
D Magazine Outlet, 26 Via Monte Napoleone
Located right at the top of one of Milan’s most well-heeled shopping strips is this little gem. An Aladdin’s cave of lux labels to satisfy your fashion cravings, here you will find high end stock from big names such as Prada, Miu Miu, Vivienne Westwood, Dolce & Gabbana, Pierre Hardy, Kris Van Assche, Tom Rebl, Dsquared, and also many famous Italian labels that you may not have heard of, but are exceptional in their cut and design. This outlet is not the cheapest of the crop, but is particularly exceptional for its shoe and accessory offerings.
Magazzini Firme Outlet, 1 Via Victor Hugo
Stock outlets for the department stores of the same name, here you can expect to find mid-range Italian labels alongside Balmain shirts for men, Missoni bags for women, C’N’C Costume National, Dsquared and Galliano and Versace.
Diecidecimi Spazimoda, 36 Corso Buenos Aires
Located on the popular Corso Buenos Aires shopping strip in the Porto Venezia area, this outlet concentrates on designer diffusion, or “bridge” lines at 30-50% discount. You will find ICE by Iceberg, M Missoni, Boss Hugo Boss, Versace Jeans, Gant, Emporio Armani, GF Ferre, Trussardi Jeans and LOVE Moschino among others.
The Highline Outlet, 30 Corso Vittorio Emanule
This shop bills itself as Milan’s largest outlet, is certainly the most centrally located, and, for those willing to search the racks, can throw up some unexpected finds. Spotted in this fashion labyrinth were designer steals from Fred Perry, Dirk Bikkembergs, Raf Simons, Valentino, Alberta Ferretti and Balenciaga. The Highline has one of the most well stocked shoe selections seen so far and covers men’s, women’s and childrenswear.
If you have more time in Milan, it is worth considering the 45-minute train ride to Legnano for Dolce & Gabanna’s factory shop: a place you really have to be in the know about, as it is not advertised and is located on a non-descript industrial estate at 30 Via Rossini. You can always get a taste of the Dolce & Gabbana lifestyle whatever your means, by popping into Bar Martini Dolce & Gabbana for that favourite of Milanese past times: aperitivo. Dress smartly (there is a doorman) and call in between 5pm and 7pm for this traditional custom in which fashionable locals sip themed martini cocktails and aperitifs alongside complementary appetisers. The perfect ending to your designer discount shopping spree!
This is by no means an exhaustive list of Milan’s outlets; there is a multitude and many operate in pop-up locations and tend to cluster the Piazza Duomo area. Many also leave flyers in hotel lobbies so be sure to check for these.
Ian Michael Turner
Read our fashion insider guide to Paris here.