I realize some of my choices for post topics are nebulous, specific, or sometimes irrelevant. This *might* be one of those posts…
I just feel the need to get this off my mind.
Shopping in Milan can be quite an adventure, which I’m still trying to make sense of. Not like a Manhattan adventure, which is mostly about crowds and neighborhoods. E.g. go to Soho only if you want to angrily elbow tourists and mutter curses.
Milan is far more compact than New York, though only a city of 1.3 million. Its center attracts an appreciable level of congestion and crowds on the weekends, akin to 5th Avenue and 57th Street. Lately, with school pretty much 24/7 during the week, it’s difficult to avoid using Saturday and Sunday to run errands and pick up the essentials.
I have previously written about COS, and how much I like it. Well, the honeymoon is over.
Though the clothing is still high quality and minimal in a Jil Sander way without the price, the pre-sale experience leaves one wishing they’d shopped at Prada instead. The single COS store in Milan is much too small for a major fashion city, so it is almost always packed.
Uomo-wear is downstairs (-1 floor), so it’s warm and has no airflow. There are two fitting rooms for men, and in each, the most useless set of wide, flat wooden hooks on which to hang merchandise. And a shallow wooden shelf, which stacked items fall off of and hung items drop from easily. Basically, it is hellish, and when I have 12 articles in my hand, plus a bag, coat, and umbrella, no one offers to put them anywhere for me. Lovely…
I get that it is owned and conceived by H&M, which isn’t all about customer service. But for the sake of this spoiled shopper’s sanity, please expand the footprint of the store!
Next…I tend to frequently pre-shop online and then go in person to look, and potentially purchase, to get the full experience. Twice recently, I have had to ask to see something (and show a picture of it from the website) before it was plucked from the stock room and presented.
It seems that, when you ask, you shall receive? In the U.S., we are generally used to being presented with all that is available, more or less. Why hide that fabulous green velvet scarf from the FW15 runway? #EtroMilano.
The roomy, tailored experience can only last so long for this grad student. Against my better judgement, I weaved my way through Il Quadrilatero della Moda, into La Rinascente, past the most stressful ground floor beauty department, to find a t-shirt from Alexander Wang on their men’s fashion floor (one above the mezzanine).
Apparently they don’t stock Extra Small at all, in any brand, so that answers that. But why not look around a bit, since I’m here?
The literal throngs of people, largely not interested in Paul Smith, or Dsquared2, or MSGM, pack every floor of the department store from what seems like open to close. I don’t get it.
To try something on, I had to fetch a sales assistant, direct him to the item in question, and then have him unlock it and walk me to a fitting room. Lesson: Balenciaga runs large; I am no longer a 48…but instead a 46 in most cases; who would want to spend thousands of euros after battling just to take something for a test drive? Ick. What a waste of time.
Riding down the escalator, I kept thinking: I would rather be at 10 Corso Como, or Antonia, or some other non-central multi brand boutique, dedicated to insiders.
Walking up Via Brera away from the masses, you find a line of niche, local, understated brands like Massimo Alba, Bark, and Felisi. Plus, the famous Cavalli e Nastri vintage store, which is frequented by Rachel Zoe and others.
I stopped into Creed, the Parisian parfumer, to check on prices. Instead of 485$ for 120ml of Royal Oud, it was 220â‚¬?!! WATT (that is roughly $250 at today’s exchange rate). Rob Akins this is F-Y-I!
I have seen quite a few price differentials since moving, but that one is remarkable. Lesson: buy European things in Europe.
And lastly, a comment on this trend of puffy vests that only seems to get bigger each fall-winter. I partook for a while. I had a very puffy GAP vest that was comfortable and the right shade of putty gray. But now, I just don’t see the appeal. It looks so…juvenile. Marshmallow. Michelin man. I don’t know.
There are A MILLION brands that make these types of items, like Save the Duck, Moncler, Aspesi, Stone Island, even Bottega Veneta. I’ve tried a bunch, but can’t get into them. Oh well.
PS watch out with some of these Italian brands that produce 60% in Italy, and then sneak in something like a puffy vest made in Vietnam for 300â‚¬.
My next post will be about Vintage shopping in Milan. There are even more stores than I originally thought. Stay tuned.
Ms. Resting-B****-Face Alexis di Milano, out. Until next time!
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