Compared to yesterday, I certainly had a much calmer, more relaxed day in Milan! We started with a company visit to 10 Corso Como, a high end store in Isola that combines fashion and lifestyle. An absolutely gorgeous store, it showcases the work of many well-known designers as well as many newer designers to expose their work to the market. In this way, the business is essentially a living magazine that brings to light new fashion and lifestyle trends. I thought this company visit was very interesting because every time I looked at an 1,150 euro pair of heels or 2000 euro jacket, I wondered how this company manages to stay afloat because most people don’t go into a store ready to spend that kind of money on clothing.
Yesterday, I learned that Italian business requires a lot of innovation because they lack several natural resources that other countries have in staples. To make up for this, they need to create their own unique industries to dominate to generate revenue. I also learned that companies, like Velasca, have a better chance of surviving if they create their own market instead of entering an already existing one, where they will have competitors. 10 Corso Como seems to have done both of these and has created a very unique business model. By seamlessly combining design, art, culture, food, literature, and fashion into one store, they have created their own market of the “concept shop” and have created a new type of industry that combines lifestyle and fashion all in one place.
I really enjoyed this company visit because from the moment you walk in until the moment you walk out, you are truly engulfed in the beauty of the store with all of its plants and products. I was swept away by its beauty, and it truly is a living magazine. Throughout the store, there were several mannequins dressed in very chic outfits I would only find in a magazine. These mannequins serve as inspiration for other outfits that I may put together. It was a very interactive and fun experience just to stroll through the different floors. I likewise enjoyed it because we were given the freedom to walk around the store at our own pace without a guide.
After we finished our company visit, we went on a fashion walking tour of Milan that started right at Corso Como. On our way to Via Monte Napoleone and Via Della Spiga, the two main streets of Milan’s fashion quarters, we learned more about the canals that once flowed straight through the heart of Milan. For example, we learned that the canals have changed/expanded their purpose as time went on until they were drained and put into disuse. It was first used for irrigation alone, but then it became more of a proponent of the transport industry and actually was used to transport marble for the Duomo. In addition, I learned that Leonardo invented the locks for this canal, which is one of his contributions to engineering.
It was easy to tell when we got to the actual fashion district because it was the highest concentration of high-end, luxury stores I have ever seen. I saw Versace, Gucci, Dolce and Gabbana, and so many more well-known storefronts scattered throughout the district whose store fronts are supposedly the most expensive. Each of these stores were very unique; I especially liked the Valentino store from what I could see through the window because it looked like a palace inside. There was likewise a lot of strange window art in many of the stores; for instance, one store had a mannequin flaunting a safari outfit surrounded by monkey dolls. It seems like these luxury brands really go to extremes to distinguish themselves from one another and stay ahead of their competition!
One thing that surprised me about this walking tour was how fashion represented so much more than simply clothes when the fashion district was first growing; in fact, fashion represented a political aspect of a person. Being dressed in a proper way was a reflection of personality, status, and the proper transformation of society. This was surprising for me to think about because, in America, apparel is nowhere near as important; it is perfectly acceptable to wear sweatpants and t-shirts wherever. However, in Italy, fashion means so much more.