Galleeria Vittorio Emenuele and Milan Cathedral square with flying pegion in the morning

Shopping in Milan, the Fashion Capital of Italy

From Quadrilatero della Moda to vintage thrift shops, here’s your ultimate shopping guide to Milan Fashion Week 2023

by Melek Carkaci

Oh, Milano! Elegant and artsy, the Italian capital of design and fashion deserves its world-class reputation. After all, some of the greatest fashion designers in history call it home, from Miuccia Prada to Gianni Versace to Giorgio Armani. Since the 1950s, the Italian metropolis has been a mecca of creativity thanks to its industrial past. It’s no wonder it became the fashion capital of Italy, bypassing Rome and Florence for that honor.

Boasting an array of shopping districts across oh-so-chic neighborhoods, Milan’s fashion reputation can be admired through its architecture, boutiques, and well-dressed denizens. While the city has a history as a high-end tailoring and fabric mecca, in recent years, thrift stores have sprung up like Sacha Baron Cohen on a Prada runway. This makes it a great place to shop sustainably. 

Continue reading our guide to explore the best of Milan’s fashion scene, from classic must-see places for luxury shopping to more affordable and eco-friendly alternatives. We’ve got you covered this Milan Fashion Week.

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Quadrilatero della Moda: High-fashion heaven

It’s no surprise that haute couture is one of the first things that come to mind when one mentions Milan, as the Italian destination has hosted Milan Fashion Week since 1958. Held twice a year—in September and February—fashion week is one of the most important events on the social calendar for stylish Milanese.

Whether you’re interested in a souvenir or simply wish to enjoy a day of window shopping, a stroll through Quadrilatero della Moda (Fashion Quadrilateral) is a must. With its four main streets—Via Manzoni, Corso Venezia, Via della Spiga and Via Montenapoleone—you’ll be treated to a visual spectacle as you walk by the dazzling displays outside of Gucci, Prada, and Moschino stores as well as French imports such as Céline and Chanel. Here, each shop window is styled with great care, and can easily be mistaken for works of art.

For a more immersive experience, head to the Armani building on Via Alessandro Manzoni, which boasts, in addition to its boutique, a bookstore, a five-star hotel with a spa, a café, and a restaurant with a rich menu of modern Italian dishes and gourmet vegan options.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II: Shop til you drop

Near Quadrilatero della Moda sits the sumptuous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a historic gallery where luxury goods blend seamlessly with architectural beauty. Think mosaic floors, expansive arcades, and a glass rooftop topping it all. Dating back to 1877, the gallery is the oldest shopping gallery in Italy and houses renowned Italian and international brands such as Louis Vuitton, Prada, Gucci, and more, as well as smaller artisanal Milanese shops, bookstores, and restaurants.

Once there, you can easily combine your visit to Milan Cathedral (Duomo di Milano) and the Teatro alla Scala as both iconic sites surround the latter. And if you couldn’t find what you were looking for, Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, an elegant pedestrian street connecting Piazza del Duomo to Piazza San Babila, will surely tempt you with its more affordable shopping options.

La Rinascente Milan: A Milan shopping center

Many shoppers spend hours perusing boutiques and boulevards for the perfect piece but if you’re short on time, head to La Rinascente, an extensive Milan mall with stone arcades situated on Piazza del Duomo. It’s been part of the famous square’s landscape for more than 150 years.

With 10 stores, La Rinascente boasts everything from luxury fashion brands to home decor shops to beauty kiosks as well as food courts. The Milan shopping center also provides a free personal shopper service for a unique VIP experience! For two hours, you’ll enjoy expert individualized advice, and a selection of pieces prepared according to your preferences—from fashion to beauty to home design.

Once your shopping spree is complete, enjoy a tasty break at Obicà, a restaurant on the rooftop with breathtaking views of the Duomo’s spires. Known for its mozzarella bar, Obicà uses only locally sourced, fresh ingredients such as mozzarella di bufala from the Campania region.

Milan outlet shopping: Quality meets affordability

If you’re a true haute couture lover but can’t risk breaking the bank for some designer threads, head to one of Milan’s outlets. Whether it’s for end-of-collection offers or trendy pieces, Milan’s outlets are just as good as any original ready-to-wear boutique.

First stop: Matia, a local fashion chain specializing in contemporary outlet collections with four large stores in Milan (Piazza Carlo Mirabello, Corso Venezia, Eugenio Balzan, and Corso Vercelli). Organized with great care, Matia’s outlets boast a diverse selection of clothes and accessories for women, men, and children, with a large range of designer brands such as Armani or Moschino among many others.

Il Salvagente, a local favorite, is a must-visit for its curated selection of brands, with a focus on Milanese fashion designers. In addition to its physical store on Via Fratelli Bronzetti, Il Salvagente’s online shop affords fashionistas a larger selection of Italian and international brands.

If you prefer the classic mall experience, make your way to one of the Fashion City Outlets—San Giuliano in the south or Segrate in the east of Milan. From Carpisa, specializing in leather goods, to Del Mare 1911, a century-old Italian brand known for its elegant and high-quality menswear collections, both complexes boast a dozen stores where you can gift yourself the best of Italian style for reduced prices. 

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Vintage shopping in Milan: Sustainable high fashion

If you want to shop with a completely clear conscience or simply love vintage clothing, Milan doesn’t disappoint. From responsible young creators and fashion aficionados to fashion-driven districts filled with second-hand shops, sustainability is also present in Milan’s fashion scene.

In the Brera district, the “District of ideas,” vintage fashion blends into the artsy soul of the neighborhood. Expect historic streets filled with art galleries, artisanal shops, and musicians. In this bohemian atmosphere, you’ll find Urzì Vintage, whose owners, Fabio and Lisa, a couple who met thanks to their love of art and photography, are fascinated by Italian brands from the 1990s. 

The small but elegant store boasts leather bags and garments, selected and refurbished with care. For a more unique experience, head to Cavalli e Nastri, a concept store and thrift shop with more high-end collections from international brands. This local institution has a second store on Via Gian Giacomo Mora, another popular street for thrift shopping, where vintage stores abound.

The Navigli district is another special spot where you can stroll from one thrift store to another while enjoying the picturesque ambiance along the canals. Among our favorites: Pourquoi Moi specializes in colorful collections from the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s. From psychedelic and geometric patterns to romantic floral designs, you’ll be transported to the heyday of flower power. Don’t skip SousVintage, where you can explore unique and limited vintage pieces from world-renowned brands such as Kenzo, Prada, and Yves Saint Laurent.

For a more authentic experience in Navigli, head to Fiera di Sinigaglia, the oldest flea market in Milan! Every Saturday, vendors line up along the canal between Via Valenza and Alzaia Naviglio Grande. Get ready to explore the most diverse collections of all time as you’ll stroll along the stalls, from typical Italian antiquities to vintage objects to clothes.

Milanese and Italian fashion: A piece of history

If you are a passionate fashion devotee, Milan boasts myriad museums dedicated to the fascinating history of fashion. So don’t simply browse stores in Milan–get ready to deep dive into the artistry and industry that shaped Milan’s history.

Armani Silos, on Via Bergognone, is a favorite for its look back on the life and work of Giorgio Armani. Besides hosting different art and photography exhibitions throughout the year, three permanent exhibits await: “Androgynous,” highlighting the fusion of discretion and elegance in the designer’s collections, “Ethnicities,” showing the influence of non-Western countries in his designs, and finally “Stars,” displaying a selection of garments worn by Hollywood royalty.

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For a more immersive trip through time, Palazzo Morando hosts a fashion and costume museum on the first floor, with an ever-revolving collection of designs from the 17th to the 21st century.