Combining holidays with shopping
Most of the major fashion houses have outlet stores, and outlet malls are all over the country.
The best deals in regular stores in Italy can be found in January and July, when you can find items reduced up to 70% off their retail prices. Discount and outlet stores never have sales. Some of the items you’ll find in the outlets are factory seconds or showroom pieces, and you will find garments from the previous years’ collection as well.
Most shops are closed on Monday mornings, and do not open until 3 pm. Some even stay closed for the entire day on Mondays. If you are a visitor you can get a refund on the taxes you have paid on your purchases, called the ‘Detaxe’. Many stores have a minimum purchase in place to qualify for the Detaxe, so check with the shopkeeper or store manager for details.
Most of the fashion houses have outlet stores in or near Milan, Florence, and Turin. All offer a designer shopping environment and friendly, courteous staff that speak a number of different languages.
In the small town of Montevarchi located between Milan and Florence, you’ll find the Prada Outlet, officially named ‘Space’. The sign on the building is very small and hard to recognize, but you’ll see the crowd of people waiting to get in. Be prepared to wait in line to enter the store, but once inside you’ll find rows and rows of Prada and Mui Mui clothing, handbags, and shoes, all at 60-70% off their regular retail prices. It is advised to arrive before 9:30 am when the store opens.
The Gucci outlet is also nearby in Tuscany, at Leccio Reggello. The building itself is not marked ‘Gucci’ – in fact, there was no announcement when the store opened – but the secret is out and many have enjoyed buying last season’s Gucci items at more than 50% off. Look for a white and green building with red awnings, that looks somewhat sleeker and a bit out of place with its surroundings.
Also be sure to check out the Armani Factory Store in the town of Vertemate, near Como. Here you’ll find three stories of Armani fashions, direct from the Emporio line. Nearby is the Jill Sander outlet, in Cirimido, where you can purchase gorgeous shoes and boots, as well as the Lario collection of footwear. For shoes, you should also visit the Bruno Magli outlet, found in Bologna.
Fontana di Trebbia in Milan carries Dolce & Gabbana and Fontana suitcases, handbags, and some assorted accessories. Again, arrive early to avoid the rush. The main Dolce & Gabbana outlet can be found in Legnano, just outside of Milan. They carry a full collection of garments, shoes, and accessories, mostly from the previous years’ lines.
Among the other outlet shops in Tuscany are Versace, Fendi, Ungaro, Tods. Yves St. Laurent, Ferragamo, and La Perla. You can book shopping excursions that will include travel, hotels, and stops at many outlet stores, so check with your travel agency for deals on these. Or, consider hiring a personal shopper to take you exactly where you want to go and help you find the items you’re looking for.