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Seven insider tips for shopping in Milan

The Local Italy
The Local Italy - [email protected] • 8 Oct, 2021 Updated Fri 8 Oct 2021 12:22 CEST
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A passer-by walks past a clothes shop offering summer sales in Corso Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, on July 7, 2021. (Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP)

Get to know Italy's fashion capital with this essential shopping guide from local resident Rachael Martin, author of The Fashion Lover's Guide to Milan. (Plus, win a copy of the book in our members' prize draw at the bottom of this article.)


One of the world’s four fashion capitals, Milan is the city that made Italian ready-to-wear clothing internationally famous. Its love of beautiful things dates back to the Renaissance and can be seen all over Milan in its churches, cafés, state of the art exhibition spaces such as the Armani Silos and Fondazione Prada, and of course in the shop windows.

Planning a shopping trip to Milan? Here’s how to make the most of it.

Slow it all down and walk

It might sound obvious, but this really is the best way to enjoy the city. Soak up the sights, stop for coffee in a little place along the way and take a few lessons in style from the people you see. Walk along Corso Magenta and around the Sant’Ambrogio area, and stop for your coffee - or better a breakfast of cappuccino and brioche - at Pasticceria Marchesi (Via Santa Maria alla Porta, 11a). For shopping, Figus is great for bags (Corso Magenta, 31), while the philosophy at Wait and See boutique is la vita è bella or 'life is beautiful'. (Via Santa Marta, 14)

Head for Milan’s ‘Golden Quad’ 

Milan’s Quadrilatero d'Oro or Quadrilatero della Moda, known in English as the Golden Quad, is a quadrangle of luxury fashion boutiques where some of the most famous Italian designers still live and work today.

The Armani shop on Via Sant'Andrea, part of Milan's fashion district "Quadrilatero della Moda" fashion district. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP


During the Medieval period it was a world of convents and cloisters, and by the turn of the twentieth century bourgeois families were living side by side with the aristocrats. Via Sant’Andrea, 9 is the original location where Giorgio Armani opened his first store in the early 1980s. 

It’s to be taken in slowly, with a mid-morning coffee at Pasticceria Cova before visiting the Armani Store (Via Manzoni 31) for fashion, books, chocolate and more.

Explore the city centre

Head for Piazza Duomo with its imposing Gothic cathedral and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Milan’s 19th century shopping arcade. This has long been known as the city’s ‘salotto’ or living room, where the Milanese meet and stop off at its bars and restaurants. Miuccia Prada’s grandfather Mario opened his luxury luggage store at the brand's outlet here. Go downstairs and you can see original accessories in the glass cabinets.

Nearby, Rinascente is the well-known department store that’s been open since 1865 on Corso Vittorio Emanuele. You’ll also find lots of high street names along Corso Vittorio Emanuele, as you will along Via Torino. Via Torino then leads to Corso di Porta Ticinese for quirky boutiques and streetwear shops.

Milan's Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

Browse around Brera

Popular with intellectuals, artists and writers, the district of Brera was all about the bohemian way of life, also because of its proximity to the Pinacoteca di Brera, the city’s art gallery. There are plenty of design and antique shops, galleries and boutiques to explore here. 

Vintage shop Cavalli e Nastri (Via Brera, 2) is one for your list. Also don’t miss the San Marco market on Monday and Thursday mornings along Via San Marco for cashmere, shoes and bags. Nearby Via Solferino has some lovely boutiques.  


Go vintage 

Milan has some fantastic vintage shops, stocking fashion greats and lesser-known names such as Pirovano and Roberta di Camerino for bags. You might not have heard of them but this is the high quality craftsmanship and materials that Italy is famous for.

Madame Pauline Vintage (Foro Buonaparte, 74 near the castle) and Pourquoi Moi (Via Via Mario Fusetti, 7) are ones to note. For vintage jewellery, head to Demaldè (Via Ponte Vetero, 22 in Brera).

Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

Discover design classics

Not just a fashion city, Milan is also the Italian city of design. Corso Como 10 (Corso Como, 10) was opened by Carla Sozzani over thirty years ago and was Milan’s first concept store, complete with art gallery. Its clothing collections are always bang up to date, and it also has an excellent bookshop which specialises in fashion titles.

Nearby is Piazza Gae Aulenti where you’ll find the Chiara Ferragni store (Via Vincenzo Capelli, 5). Laboratorio Paravicini (Via Nerino, 8) and Funky Table (Via Santa Marta, 19): both offer ceramics and tableware in the 5 VIE area in Sant’Ambrogio. 

Finish up with aperitivo

Do like the Milanese and go for an aperitivo. If you’re staying for a few days, it’s also a great excuse to wear your new purchases.

Terrazza Aperol in Piazza Duomo right next to the Duomo has amazing views. The Porta Venezia area is always popular, while LùBar (Via Palestro, 18) is set in a neoclassical villa and has Sicilian street food on the menu.

Rachael Martin is a British writer and has lived just north of Milan for over twenty years. Her book The Fashion Lover's Guide to Milan is a guide to shopping, restaurants and museums all with a fashion theme, which also explores the history of fashion in Milan.

Enter the prize draw the win a copy of The Fashion Lover's Guide to Milan by completing the form below:




The Local Italy 2021/10/08 12:22

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