Today we went on a walking tour of via Montenapoleone, the Excelsior department store, and the surrounding fashion-centric area, had a group lunch, and attended a presentation by Bottega Velasca. Montenapoleone is a famous shopping street in Milan and is home to the flagship stores of many important Italian and international brands. Some of the stores with retail spaces on the street include Bottega Veneta, Gucci, Goyard, and Brunello Cucinelli. The stores themselves are gorgeous and impressive but the street is also effortlessly elegant and glamorous. The people walking down the street exude style and wealth as the walk by Audi advertisements that are literally a car parked on a platform next to the sidewalk or signs detailing the boats owned by members of Milan’s yacht club. Walking down this street definitely brings you into a different reality than that in which most of us live. In some ways it is simply amazing and, in others, inspiring and motivational.
We also visited Excelsior, a concept department store located a few blocks from Montenapoleone. The store has five floors for clothing and accessories as well as two underground floors for food and drinks. The store prides itself on offering an eclectic mix of styles hung on the same racks and encased in the same displays. The result is a bohemia inspired Isabel Marant jacket hung next to a very loud embroidered Gucci sweatshirt. This store and Montenapoleone remind you why physical stores still exist as they show how shopping can be more of an experience than simply a utilitarian task.
After the walking tour, we had a group lunch at a nearby restaurant and then went our separate ways. I decided to walk back through the area we had just toured to look into some of the shops and get a better sense of the importance of these locations for these brands.
I returned to the hotel for a nap after walking back down via Montenapoleone. In the afternoon we had a visit by a digital marketing professional from an Italian, direct-to-consumer shoe company called Bottega Velasca. We learned how a big part of how they grow their business is by telling a story to their customers and trying to target a specific type of modern urban man who is quite understated, stylish, and somewhat international. It was interesting hearing about their story and their focus on providing quality, handmade Italian shoes at reasonable prices. One of my roommates for this stretch of the trip went to their store and purchased a pair of shoes and they were truly gorgeous. The color, silhouette, and construction were all top notch. I will definitely keep them in mind when I next need dress shoes.
After the presentation, I went out to dinner with some friends on Corso Como and got gelato at the Venchi location in Porto Nuova.