The Best Stores To Shop In Milan

Photo: Courtesy ofThink Milan is all big-name luxury flagships? Think again. Italy's fashion capital is brimming with cool concept shops, quirky boutiques, impeccable vintage stores, and crazy-good designer discount outlets. In fact, it seems that every neighborhood — from Porta Garibaldi to Brera to the Navigli District, and beyond — has its fair share of retail destinations worth setting aside a whole afternoon to explore individually. In honor of Milan Fashion Week, we’ve rounded up 10 you definitely shouldn’t miss.
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Photo: Courtesy of 10 Corso Como.
10 Corso Como
Milan's most famous shopping destination needs little introduction. Founded 25 years ago by former fashion magazine editor Carla Sozzani (yep, the sister of Vogue Italia's editor-in-chief, Franca), 10 Corso Como is considered the very first concept store, paving the way for the Colettes and Dover Street Markets of the world. The sprawling vine-covered Mecca of cool is still just as innovative as ever; the two-story industrial building houses an art gallery, bookstore, design shop, restaurant, terrace bar, mini hotel, restaurant, and clothing shop. Browse the ever-changing and extravagantly displayed selection of hot-off-the runway gems from Gareth Pugh, Maison Martin Margiela, Alexander McQueen, MSGM, Comme des Garçons, and more, then grab a prosecco in the garden cafe and stay to people watch an incredibly chic Milanese crowd.

10 Corso Como
, Corso Como, 10; 390-22-900-2674.
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Photo: Courtesy of Frip.
When a store is run by a husband-and-wife duo, it's sure to deliver a pretty personalized retail experience, just check out Frip, a Scandinavian-inspired concept shop located just south of the city center and run by a stylist and DJ. The minimalist space features a hand-picked selection of edgy men's and women's items from imported streetwear brands like Hope, Ann-Sofie Back, Bless, and Marios, as well as rare vinyl and indie magazines, like AnOther and The Gentlewoman. The merchandise mix is so fresh, you'd never know that Frip has been making waves (and spinning live tunes for its shoppers) in Milan for over 20 years — it was even the first shop in town to stock ACNE.

, Corso di Porta Ticinese, 16; 390-28-321-360.
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Photo: Courtesy of Biffi.
Alexander Wang, Charlotte Olympia, Duro Olowu, Marni, Peter Pilotto, Christopher Kane, and more: The designer roster at Biffi is a fashion dream come true. The store’s original location on the corner of Corso Genova occupies a massive, light-filled 2000-square-foot space and was recently treated to a sleek redesign by star architect Gae Aulenti. Right across the street, you’ll find the retailer’s cozier sportswear-themed shop, BContemporary. Give yourself plenty of time to browse both; since each offers a huge selection of men's and women's clothing and accessories, you’re definitely going to need it.

, Corso Genova, 6; 390-28-311-6052.
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Photo: Courtesy of Made in the Shade.
Made In The Shade
With its bohemian vibe, wide canal, and young crowd, Milan’s Navigli neighborhood is home to some of the city’s most interesting shopping destinations. Made in the Shade, a 9-year-old-boutique occupying a former butcher shop, is one of the coolest. Boasting plaster walls, exposed wood beams, and a healthy dose of rustic-meets-New Age decor (hand-painted sticks, antelope skulls), it’s the kind of place that could easily be located in L.A.’s Silver Lake neighborhood or New York’s Williamsburg. The merchandise — which the owners say is partly inspired by ‘70s California surf culture — suits the laid-back vibe of those places, too. Vintage-tinged designer labels, like Isabel Marant, Local Apparel, and Bsbee, as well as a thoughtful smattering of global finds, like New Zealand-knit fishing sweaters and authentic Spanish espadrilles, call this place home.

Made in the Shade
, Ripa di Porta Ticinese, 53; 390-25-811-8785.
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Photo: Courtesy of Cavalli e Nastri.
Cavalli E Nastri
Milan’s most famous vintage shop is also one of its most fun. Located in the heart of Brera, this small store is cheery, well-organized, and — best of all — totally unpretentious. Though the selection is made up of museum-worthy Christian Dior, Emilio Pucci, and Yves Saint Laurent, you’ll feel totally welcome as you thumb through the colorful racks and explore the glass drawers brimming with glittering decades-old costume jewels. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a famous face while you browse the silk Hermès scarves and leather Gucci bags: Style icons like Naomi Campbell have been known to stop by frequently.

Cavalli e Nastri
, Via Brera 2; 390-27-200-0449.
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Photo: Courtesy of Wait and See.
Wait And See
Owner Uberta Zambeletti has worked for big-name Italian brands like Missoni, Max Mara, and Etro, so it’s not surprising she’s got a well-honed eye. But, don’t go thinking Wait & See is just another sterile store filled with high-end accoutrements. Nope, Zambeletti — who also studied fashion design at London’s Royal College of Art — is way too interesting for that. Her welcoming little shop on Via Santa Marta is a treasure trove with a riotous mix of color, pattern, and texture. There are geometric-printed skirts, striped raffia bags, surreal costume jewelry, cheeky tees, colorblock sandals, crocheted pillows, and metallic trench coats. It’s the kind of place you could imagine Iris Apfel shopping, and you’ll probably want to buy everything in sight. Luckily, while the selection might be out of this world, the prices are far from astronomical.

Wait And See
, Via Santa Marta 14; 390-272-080-195.
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Photo: Courtesy of Wok Store.
Wok Store
Despite Italy’s wealth of famous fashion houses, a common complaint within the industry is that Milan style can sometimes feel a little traditional, even staid. Wok owners Federica Zambon and Simona Citarella are hoping to change all that. The two, who opened the store in 2007, wanted their city to have the same sense of the excitement for avant-garde style and young designers that places like London and New York already have. Fast forward to 2015, and their Navigli-based shop has become a hotbed for eclectic fashion from all over. Local talents, like Super and Malibu 1992, can be found alongside up-and-coming international names, like Andrea Crews and Anntian, and the store regularly hosts art exhibits and fashion events that bring Milan’s creative types out in full force.

Wok Store, Viale Col di lana 5a; 390-28-982-9700.
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Photo: Courtesy of Excelsior.
With its chaotic digital screens, imposing facade, and prime Duomo locale, Excelsior is pretty hard to miss. And, you definitely shouldn’t. This 4-year-old mega-shop clocks in at a whopping 40,000 square feet and features clothing, accessories, jewelry, and shoes from nearly every high-end designer, contemporary brand, and obscure-but-cool heritage label worth mentioning. But, what really sets Excelsior apart from other department stores (aside from the two whole floors devoted to dining, gourmet takeout, and artisanal groceries) is its futuristic layout. There are neon lights, glass partitions, dark walls, and flashing video displays. Even cooler, Excelsior lets its stock co-exist along its gilded racks, rather than confining each label its own boring little shop-in-shop. That means one minute you’re looking at a studded Balmain jacket and the next, a wispy Isabel Marant peasant dress. Which, come to think of it, is exactly the way our closets are arranged at home — or in our dreams.

, Galleria del Corso, 4; 390-27-630-7301.
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Photo: Courtesy of DMagazine Outlet.
DMagazine Outlet
If you’re wondering why everyone in Milan seems to be decked out in super-chic designer clothing, here’s a secret: They’re not paying full price. Okay, maybe some of them are, but we’re willing to bet that a vast majority are shopping strategically at the city’s numerous outlets. And you should, too. Start with DMagazine Outlet, located smack dab in the middle of the shopping district on Via Montenapoleone. Stuffed with second-season pieces from the likes of Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, and Miu Miu, it’s the kind of place where you’ll definitely have to dig, and maybe elbow a few people along the way. Once you get your hands on a runway goodie that’s marked 70% off, you’ll be really glad you did.

DMagazine Outlet
, Via Montenapoleone 26; 390-27-600-6027.
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Photo: Courtesy of Dictionary.
Dictionary owner Matteo Rancilio describes the popular Ticinese shop he opened just four years ago as ‘90s skate shop meets Northern European sportswear boutique. Sure enough, it boasts an inviting wood-accented interior filled with the kind of men’s and women’s pieces that manage to look relaxed, sporty, and super-sleek all at once. The sweet selection of cult Danish brands (Wood Wood, Libertine-Libertine), and Italian streetwear favorites (Department 5, Tothem) is almost as covetable as the assortment of hard-to-find footwear: The printed tapestry trainers by Gram and snakeskin combat boots by Farewell are among the coolest we’ve seen in awhile.

, Corso di Porta Ticinese 46; 390-28-358-212.

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