January and February in the fashion world signify one thing: winter sales.
And Milan is Italy’s fashion capital: the city of Gianni Versace, Giorgio Armani, Gianfranco Ferré, Krizia and more. They were all working from Milan during the 1970s when Italian fashion started to gain the attention it deserved.
The rest is glorious fashion history, with tales of iconic fashion moments with equally iconic supermodels, and the growth of a whole fashion industry which stretched out into the Milan hinterland.
Today, the thing you’ll notice about Milan is that you can ‘feel’ fashion in the city. It all stems from a love of beauty which dates back to the Renaissance, and is still seen in shop windows, cafés, restaurants, galleries and architecture today.
When to go
Head to Milan in winter and it’s generally a quieter time to visit. Plus those cold sunny winter days make for great views of the Alps from the terraces of the city’s Duomo.
The winter sales period in Milan and the surrounding region of Lombardy this year began on January 5th and continues until March 5th.
The shops will be busier if you go at the weekend, but it might give you the opportunity to combine a trip to Como or some of the other destinations on Lake Como which are equally beautiful in winter.
For fashion lovers, the February Milan Women’s Fashion Week (Fall Winter 2022-2023) is from Tuesday February 22nd – Monday February 28th. The main events take place behind closed doors, but you can still wander the city and soak up that fashion vibe.
Shops open until late, and you’ll find various events and shopping experiences and outdoor fashion shows.
Bear in mind though that hotel prices go up and hotels fill up fast, so you will need to book in advance. Check cameramoda.it (National Chamber of Italian Fashion) and Vogue Italia for shows and satellite events.
Where to go
Milan has its various neighbourhoods, and as far as shopping is concerned there’s plenty of choice: luxury designer brands, boutiques, vintage clothing, high street names, streetwear and so on.
The Golden Quad has wall to wall luxury fashion brands, and is also a lovely place to wander. Go from one to the other, and watch out for the Ferraris and the Lamborghinis on a Saturday afternoon.
Head to Corso Vittorio Emanuele and Via Torino for high street names, areas such as Corso Magenta, Sant’Ambrogio and Brera for some lovely boutiques, while Porta Ticinese is famous for streetwear and quirkiness.
Don’t miss the 19th century wrought iron shopping mall, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.
READ ALSO: Seven insider tips for shopping in Milan
What to buy
Of course, this depends on what you’re looking for. The sales is the time to consider those places that you couldn’t usually stretch to. Maybe you’re thinking of an investment piece that you’ll love for years to come? A MaxMara coat? A well-cut blazer to ‘lift’ an outfit and have it immediately work/events presentable? Or out and out vintage?
And don’t just go for clothes. Well-chosen accessories can really make all the difference. Italy is famous for its leather, and there are always bargains to be had.
The fashion trends for summer 2022 tell us that ballet flats are back. For some Milanese women, they never went out of fashion.
Where to shop
Where to go for coffee
Both in the Golden Quad, Pasticceria Cova and Pasticceria Marchiesi offer that Milanese experience, and chances are you might find yourself rubbing up against fashion types as you do so. (Not literally, of course.)
Where to go for aperitivo
Exclusive Bar Bulgari down a private street in the heart of the Golden Quad opens out onto what was once a monastery vegetable garden. The whole area was once famous for its convents and monasteries. Bar Martini is the collaboration between Martini and Dolce & Gabbana, and occasional setting for fashion shows.
Unless you have specific reasons for driving there, jump on a train. Italo and Frecciarossa generally have some kind of offer if you book in advance.
You might also want to add in an overnight stay and enjoy Milan’s aperitivo hour or go out for dinner. If you’re going for the day, schedule in lunch. Always ring in advance and book.
Rachael Martin is a British writer and has lived just north of Milan for over 20 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.