Milan has long held sway as one of the prominent fashion capitals of the world alongside cities like Paris, London, Rome, New York, and Barcelona. Milan has housed world-renowned fashion designers including Giorgio Armani, Gianni Versace, Domenico Dolce, Stefano Gabbana, and Miuccia Prada. If you’re interested in immersing yourself in the European fashion scene, Milan is a versatile destination with picks that can cater to any style and situation — there is something here for you even if you’re on a budget.
Milan’s fashion prominence
Interest on the rise
Milan snagged the coveted title of “fashion capital of the world” from the Global Language Monitor in 2009. However, it has faced a bumpy road since, falling out of the top ten entirely in 2014. All is not lost for Milan’s fashion prestige yet, though. In March 2015, “Milan” was the buzzword for fashion, ahead of phrases like “suede, “booty,” “Kate’s baby girl,” and “yellow hues.”
Though Milan may still struggle to top the prestigious list of fashion hot spots, this isn’t necessarily bad for visitors looking to enjoy Milan’s fashion scene. Not yet overrun with exhausted tourists, Milan’s shopping scene still feels like a bit of a hidden gem in a city more commonly known as a center of industry.
When you do uncover Milan’s many chic hot spots, you’ll find yourself immersed in a fearless fashion-forward culture where trendsetters take to the streets in looks that are boldly ahead of their time. Take home the looks you find in Milan, and you can stay just a beat ahead of the next big thing.
The Golden Quadrilateral
Fine goods for a high price
Known alternately as the Quadrilatero d’Oro and Golden Rectangle, this trendy area is bordered by the Via Montenapoleone, Via della Spiga, Via Manzoni, and Via Sant’Andrea. You’ll have no trouble finding conveniently placed Milan hotels in the vicinity, from which you can venture forth and explore at your leisure. This is where you’ll find Gucci, Prada, Moschino, Valentino, Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Dolce and Gabbana, and Versace. Giorgio Armani’s presence on all four sides of the quad easily anchors this area as the chicest and most luxurious shopping destination in the city.
The Quadrilatero d’Oro offers endless ways to empty your wallet. This is where the rich and famous come to shop, as you’ll quickly see from the busy shop assistants and the distinct smell of money in the air. Those who are on a stricter budget in Milan can begin here for window shopping inspiration and continue on to some of the city’s more affordable — yet no less stylish — options.
24 hours in Milan What to see
Milan’s massive department store
If you’re interested in a convenient one-stop-shop for fashion finds in Milan, La Rinascente dishes up a bit of everything. Positioned as a showcase for international and Italian brands, this giant department store carries fashion, home furnishings, small electronics, books, jewelry, and more. The Milan location is Rinascente’s flagship store, spanning eight stories of enticing finds.
The seventh floor Food Hall will keep you sustained so you can stay here all day. This is no shopping mall food court. Rather, you’ll find delights like a sushi bar, Champagnerie, a steakhouse, and a lounge bar. La Rinascente is open from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. on Sunday.
The Brera District
Brera’s bohemian boutiques make it a prime pick for visitors who want to stroll through a more laid back part of town. The cobblestone streets, overflowing planters, and a plethora of art galleries make for a pleasant experience whether or not you’re shopping. Just north of Duomo, the Brera district is conveniently close to Milan’s tourist center, yet it is just removed enough to be quieter and less crowded.
It’s best to explore Brera without an itinerary, as this area will yield stellar surprises to diligent shoppers. Some stops to keep an eye on include Faliero Sarti for elegant scarves and Spelta Milano for high-end ballet flats. 10 Corso Como on the edge of the Brera district is another hot spot, with an outlet, store, gallery, and bookshop. The store opens daily at 10:30 a.m., and closes at 7:30 p.m. Friday through Tuesday, and it closes at 9:00 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday.
Milan’s shopping isn’t relegated to its carefully curated shops. Some of the most exciting finds come from its markets. The Fiera di Sinigaglia is one of the most popular flea markets in Milan. The second-hand clothes in Milan can easily outstrip anything you’ll find at home, and you may score designer cast-offs for just a few euros. It’s open every Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m..
The Mercato Dei Navigli is harder to catch, taking place on the last Sunday of the month from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. This antique market features more than 400 vendors along the Alzaia Naviglio Grande.
A walking tour of Milan Get to steppin'
Milan outlet malls
Even the hottest designers will occasionally have unsold pieces at the end of the season. Milan’s outlet malls are outstanding for their variety and quality. Try Il Salvagente for designers like Armani, Dolce and Gabbana, Gucci, Miu Miu, and dozens more at discounts of up to 60 percent. The outlet mall caters to early afternoon shoppers, open from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Sunday, 3:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday, 10:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. the rest of the week.
The Dmagazine Outlet (nicknamed DMAG) is a popular pick for tenacious shoppers who don’t mind a lengthy search for the right find. The offerings vary wildly, so you never know what you can find. When hot designer goods do show up, you can expect to snag them for as little as 20 percent of their original value. This outlet is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Savvy shoppers in Milan will find everything from hot designer trends fresh from the runway to bargain clothing looking for a second life. Approach the city with an open mind and a desire to explore and Milan will readily yield its treasures.