Can you visit one of the world’s major fashion hubs without doing a little shopping? That’ll be a no from us. Milan’s shopping centres take the shopping experience up a notch or two with huge, historic and architectural shopping arcades, department stores that scale up ten storeys and award–winning outlet stores. Everything from haute couture to international brands can be found on these streets. And, if malls, big brand bargains and designer pieces don’t fill you with retail joy, there’s an excellent recycled and vintage scene to stroll among too.
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
Everyone, regardless of their penchant for Prada, should explore the gorgeous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, at least once. Yes, this architectural showstopper is Milan’s standout shopping venue – packed with high–end price tags. But it’s a feast for the eyes away from window shopping. Four storeys of glass and ornate ironwork house gourmet eateries, emporiums and luxury brands. But in–between the logos, lite bites and oversized shopping bags you’ll find a wealth of Milan’s architectural and retail history under one roof. In town just to shop? This is THE place to compile a capsule wardrobe that combines a mix of Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Swarovski, Versace, Luisa Spagnoli and one–off pieces from Milan’s boutiques.
Via Monte Napoleone
As one of the most expensive streets in Europe, Via Monte Napoleone is very much Milan’s Mayfair. This street is where Milan’s latest looks emerge from, a place that influences the rest of the city’s wardrobes – regardless of whether you’ve shopped here. For some, Via Monte Napoleone will be a window shopping experience. A place to peer at parked Ferraris while gazing through windows stocked with Cartier, Tiffany and Dior. For others, a place to splash the cash on a statement piece or spend some savings on a whole new look. An upscale experience on a street that’s home to Gucci’s flagship store. Dress to impress – it’s not uncommon to see fashion designers stalking the pavements on this street.
Brands, brands, brands
Corso Buenos Aires
Milan’s shopping powerhouse – Corso Buenos Aires, makes Oxford Street and the Champs-Élysées look twee in comparison. Europe’s longest shopping street is a mecca for browsers, brand lovers and shopping fans. Wedging 300 stores into just 1km of real estate, it’s THE place to shop if you’re short on time in Milan. And, unlike the grand halls of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, there’s something for every budget along Corso Buenos Aires. From H&M and Zara to Calvin Klein and Sephora, there’s an opportunity to shop at stores you haven’t set foot in before, along with a few familiar favourites for picking up pieces that might not have made it to UK shores just yet.
Brace your budget and your toes for ten storeys of superb shopping, because Rinascente is one hell of a department store. It all starts on the lower ground floor with the design supermarket. A place where you’ll spend a little too long wondering whether you should look into hiring a shipping container to cart back every item of chic and sleek Italian furniture you set eyes on. That minor inconvenience aside, this floor isn’t to be skipped. The smaller knick acks are the ideal compromise to add statement pieces and Italian design to your home. Before you rise up through the floors, there’s a chance to dine at an outpost of one of the best restaurants in Milan – God Save the Food.
Do consider a brunch before moving on to the fashion, beauty and gourmet goodies. If only to stave off the inevitable hangry over-shop in the grocery section. After all, truffles, cognac and olive oils take up precious suitcase room that really should be reserved for Ralph Lauren shirts, cashmere jumpers and Max Mara bags.
Scalo Outlet Mall
Milan’s shopping centres can take a toll on your budget. So if you’re looking to make your holiday money go a little further, it’s worth taking the 15 minute journey out to the Scalo Outlet Mall. You’ll find over 100 stores from mid-range brands selling everything from pre-loved treasures to sale goods and overstocked items. The perfect hunting ground for bargain hunters, with a good mix of familiar high street names – think Calvin Klein, The North Face and Levis, along with Italian brands such as Liu Jo and Nara Camicie. Expect the usual outlet centre experience – lunch at the food court anyone? But don’t miss the chance to leverage your tourist status. Register online before your trip for an ‘I Love’ card and you’ll get an extra 10% off at selected stores.
Looking for high end fashion at a fraction of the price? Head to DMAG on Via Manzoni. Curating cut price items from over 3,000 brands, this Milanese wonder is every shopper’s dream. Not surprisingly, DMAG has won awards for its services to outlet shopping. So what can you expect to trawl the rails for? Well, new stock comes in every single week from brands such as Fendi, Alexander McQueen, Givenchy, Balenciaga and Jimmy Choo. These sit happily alongside bargains from Ugg, Fred Perry, Adidas and Burton. So you’re looking at mid – to high end fashion. The perfect place to pull together that essential capsule wardrobe, complete outfit overhaul or a few statement pieces to zhuzh up your collection.
Vintage and Antiques
Do a little Milan research and you’ll quickly see the banks of the Naviglio Grand being talked about by foodies and cafe culture lovers. Yes, the coffee and croissants on this Milanese canal are next level, but so is the shopping. From Monday to Saturday you can nip in and out of the waterside art galleries, pick up a vintage find from the clothing stores or possibly a chic Italian antique. But on Sundays, the banks fill with market stalls selling everything from antique posters and vinyl, to clothing, antiques and flea market finds. A treasure trove for bargain hunters with a keen eye for design – a gorgeous setting for those who like their shopping to come with a view and close enough to gourmet goodies for anyone who can get a little hangry if they shop for too long.
Cavalli E Nastri
Save on the leg work of flitting from store to stall on the canal and drop into one of the three Cavalli E Nastri stores instead. They can all be found on Via Gian Giacomo Mora, and have inspired everyone from Milan’s fashion designers to fashion-forward shoppers curating their ideal vintage look. Proudly pushing the on-trend reuse and recycle ethos, Cavalli E Nastri fill their stores with unique pieces from the 1920s onwards. Specialising in late 21st century fashion, this is the place to scour the rails for Gucci and Pucci or just shop for your style. Sweet talk your way into the much talked about Cavalli E Nastri archive for a trip back along fashion’s memory lane – or keep an eye out for their pop-up stores in Milan’s malls.