Shopping for Giorgio Armani in the USA

Another week, another set of flights half-way around the world on business, and a chance to check out the availability of Armani clothing on another continent. This time it is Washington DC and Virginia in the USA.

I am aware that Giorgio Armani has full-scale boutiques in the USA, having seen them before – prior to this little adventure – in Las Vegas and Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills many years ago. But finding one in this region of the USA was a non-starter. The nearest I could find were smaller store-in-stores in larger high-end retailers like Neiman Marcus and Saks 5th Avenue in malls like Tysons Galleria – nice and new, but a far cry from the inspirational galleria in Milan, home to the original Fratelli Prada shop:-

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Milan’s Galleria Emanuele Vittorio II, also known as il salotto di Milano (Milan’s drawing room).

What was also disappointing, but not surprising, is that these stores carry a sub-brand somewhere between the black label Giorgio Armani and the more egalitarian Emporio lines, called Armani Collezioni. I had a good look at the clothes in this range, and I think Collezioni is much closer in quality (and price) to the Giorgio Armani RTW lines – in fact so close I bought one black polo shirt.

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It’s a practical way to scale Armani clothing across this huge market, and also a way to keep shops stocked at lower cost (the polo shirt was made in Turkey, not Italy as would be the case with pure Giorgio Armani), but it’s not the same.

The luxurious nature of shopping in the boutiques is on another level entirely, at least in my experience. The attention I received in the Milan boutique in January, or in the Florence boutique in December, was incredible. Clearly they want to sell me clothing, but they see that I am a serious buyer who knows the Armani Code, and react accordingly.

As just one example they altered a knitted cardigan (again, that word “cardigan” does not do the garment justice) by taking off the knitted sleeves, shortening them by 2 centimeters, and then sewing them back on again, flawlessly, in just one hour. Now, all GA boutiques have in-house seamstresses/tailors, and they are all good – the Florence and Munich ladies are great. But my attendant in Milan told me that store has 11 seamstresses in-house waiting to make alterations. Eleven.

And now that I am a regular customer, the prices in the Giorgio Armani stores are slightly more accessible – this simple black polo had zero discount because Saks don’t see my Armani shopping record on their database, whereas the Milan GA store definitely did see my record, and offered me 10%-30% offsets from the tag price.

So overall this was not the most exciting or rewarding or financially astute shopping I have done for Giorgio Armani clothing, but I hope that I will get a chance to give America a fair shake through a visit to the serious boutique on Rodeo Drive before too long. Stay tuned for that Hollywood update.

Good Morning from Teatro Armani

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As the crowds start to gather outside the main entrance to Teatro Armani, and – I think – I’ve already spotted Christian Bale, aka Batman, who wore Giorgio Armani suits in the Bruce Wayne persona. The invitations are very cool, and contain an RFID chip – so even if you know what they look like, you can’t copy them.

Giorgio Armani Limited Edition Jeans

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I am now wearing what must be the absolute last word in designer jeans, which I bought in Giorgio Armani Florence, where this whole project began just over a year ago. According to the label these Giorgio Armani jeans are not only made from special Japanese denim, which is incredibly soft; and not just top-of-the-line GA – also a special Limited Edition; but they also feature gold-plated hardware. Yes, gold-plated, which may partially explain the $1,125 price tag. I’ve wanted, but resisted, buying Giorgio Armani jeans for a while now, as the latest collections featured a huge metal GA logo on the standard items which reminded me of brash Gucci logos, but after being convinced by Stefano at GA Florence to try them on, I had to buy them. This logo is still a bit bright, but the pants looked and felt so good I could not say “no”. To be honest, as nice as they are, I’m still not sure I like the idea of gold-plated jeans…

Choosing a Brand

This all started about 10 days ago in Florence, Italy.

And since then I have made some important choices about what brands I want to wear — and what brands I should not.

The brands I am choosing not to wear is roughly defined by this list:

  • Dolce & Gabbani
  • Louis Vuitton
  • Gucci
  • Tommy Hilfiger
  • Armani sub-brands like Armani Exchange or Jeans
  • Ferragamo
  • Hugo Boss

Those brands have their own looks and feels: too young, too branded, too generic, too cheap, too old, too many logos etc.

I have nothing against those brands, and some of the clothing was very well made. But after several afternoons of browsing I am certain they are not what I want to wear just now.

The brands I am choosing as my “home brands” is better defined by this short, short list:-

  • Giorgio Armani for clothes
  • Prada for shoes

The key reasons behind these two choices are simple:

  • Almost everything I saw at the Giorgio Armani shop was understated, muted, but still just looked and felt amazing. So many pieces I could have bought…
  • I think that Prada makes the best shoes I ever saw in my life — just different thinking about how shoes should look.

The combination just feels right to me.

From now on, whenever I buy clothes, they will be from those brands, and those brands alone.

Whatever it costs and wherever I am, I will become Armani Man.

The Decision

I have to admit I have not been noted for being the world’s most stylish person.

I would normally wear a combination of standard denim jeans — Joker — and check shirt or High Street polo — Esprit — with some mountain wear like North Face or Mammut and a pair of battered old Campers.

It didn’t help that at about 106kg I was about 15-16 kilos over a vaguely normal weight 3 months ago.

In summary, I looked like crap.

And when I went shopping with my wife or her sister in fashionable stores, I would just say “this stuff doesn’t suit me”.

All that changed when I:

  1. lost 15 kilos in 3 months
  2. walked into the main Giorgio Armani in Florence
  3. tried on some Giorgio Armani pants, not ever meaning to buy anything
  4. listened to Roberto, who made me try some shirts and jackets too.

Oh boy…

Is that me in the mirror? Seriously? What the hell just happened?

And that’s when I realized I had to change.

So I made a decision: I will buy only the best quality clothing possible from this day forward.

And I’m going to start right now.