Giorgio Armani in Via Montenapoleone, Milan

A short side-trip to Milan just after Christmas gave me the opportunity to visit what Italians call il Quadrilatero della Moda – a group of four shopping streets in downtown Milan that feature just about every major fashion and luxury brand known to man, and then some.

Naturally since Milan is the central city in the Armani story, this was an opportunity to check out some of the cornerstones of the Giorgio Armani empire, including the hometown Giorgio Armani boutique on Via Montenapoleone itself – although initially I visited the large Emporio store on Via Manzoni and was directed to the boutique after asking about Giorgio Armani jeans (more on the Emporio in another post).

The boutique building, which stands apart from the rest of the street, is similar to Ginza in that the entire building is dedicated to Armani, but in this case it is not a multi-brand megastore; this is a purist GA boutique on all floors.

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Externally it is a graceful presence, with a serene little courtyard off to the side with very nice lily ponds that create a very soothing and literally reflective mood.

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Inside it is standard Giorgio Armani decor, with a huge number of staff on hand to handle customers – in fact it was a little intimidating being watched by so many people. But I imagine they do get flooded with customers, especially around the major fashion weeks, and there is one coming up in a couple of weeks, about which I hope to have some exciting news in a couple of days – stay tuned, it’s hopefully a great little story.

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It is a fairly big store, but not as spacious as London, and I was surprised and a bit disappointed by the range available – for example they didn’t seem to know about the limited edition cashmere jeans, with a discreet black leather embossed label, I had seen a couple of weeks earlier in Munich, which really surprised me for a flagship store in the home city about 500m-600m from the headquarters building in via Borgonuovo.

The SS13 collection is starting to gather some momentum and there are more pieces showing up in the stores now. I didn’t see anything I wanted on this visit, and think I detected a move towards slightly flashy customers in some of the new pieces. In the end I was a little let down to walk away having bought nothing at all, as I have been looking forward to this visit for a couple of weeks and we are at peak sale period – 40% on the FW12/13 season is pretty much standard.

I’ll be updating a few posts about other aspects of this trip to Milan, as well as an update from Florence where I had an excellent visit and bought a bunch of new stuff from both FW12/13 and SS13. Honestly it’s a mystery to me why that didn’t happen in this Milan store a few days earlier.

Meanwhile Happy New Year from a now one-year-old Becoming Armani Man blog.

My First Giorgio Armani Store-in-Store

A recent comment on this blog pointed out that while Mexico City may not have it’s own standalone Giorgio Armani boutique, it does have a store-in-store within Saks Fifth Avenue in Santa Fe.

Tokyo Ginza is also replete with many luxury-branded store-in-stores in the big department shops like Isetan, Mitsukoshi and Takashimaya. Mitsukoshi Ginza, for example, contains a Giorgio Armani mini-store:-

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This boutique was a small but fairly standard representation of the Fall / Winter 2012 collection, and also contained a small rack of about 15 pieces from the new Spring / Summer 2013 collection. I had assumed that they only displayed a few pieces of a new season as they were being released and shipped slowly, but interestingly the assistant said she had almost the entire collection available, with many more new season pieces not on display, and could bring them out if I wished to take a look.

This again makes me think about the clever retailing policies at Armani stores. At the Ginza stores, all the assistants said that sales “maybe” start in January, while they slowly start to release the new collection in a way that will minimize impact on the current season’s sales. Meanwhile in Europe I know that many stores have already started seasonal pre-sales – in fact I have received email promoting them since about 8 December. I will write about the seasonal sale cycle in the next entry, stay tuned.

Store-in-store is OK, as far as it goes, but it seems a bit cramped and can’t quite achieve the same degree of Armaniesque style and range that you see in, for example, the London store. Having seen this concept in the flesh, I am not such a big fan, but given that Armani has these store-in-stores, it makes me wonder again why the major airports are not a target for the Giorgio Armani brand. Emporio is strongly represented, and you can’t turn your head without seeing Armani cosmetics. But the high end boutiques with a similar range to a store-in-store in airports? No.

A little odd. I will have to figure this out.

Eccentrica on the Secret 9F of Armani Ginza

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By a streak of luck I not only found a nice pair of pants (that I noted, for purchase later this month while in Milan for some Xmas sales shopping at Giorgio Armani HQ), but also happened to be at Giorgio Armani as a special show called Eccentrica was going on on the secret 9th floor of the Ginza megastore building. The exhibit, on it’s last day of a short run, features quite a range of Privé gowns with a very Japanese bent, as well as some quite startling bits of personal decor, like this glass flower arrangement. I don’t think I will ever be a haute couture customer.

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En Route to Japan Again

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En route to Japan again, this time for a whistle-stop tour of central Tokyo, leaving snowy Munich airport beneath the wing of a Turkish Airlines flight flying via Istanbul. I may get a chance to see the Giorgio Armani stores in Roppongi Hills and Shibuya, but the main target is the Armani multi-brand store visited once before in downtown Ginza; I want to see what Privé is all about and give the store another chance to win me over.