Shopping in Italy, or the strange phenomenon of outlet villages

Italy is not only about magnificent landscape, mixed up with snowy Alps and sunny beaches, beautiful historical heritage, good wine and great food. Italy is about fashion too. However, in this case I will not discuss the daily life, which is absolutely the same like anywhere else in Europe: there are hip creative people, looking absolutely stunning, and there are people, who obviously do not care what they wear. I won’t speak about iconic haute couture events, like fashion weeks in Milan, Alta Moda days in Rome or Pitti shows in Florence too. I even won’t touch the topics about famous chic shopping streets in my already mentioned Italian towns, let’s say Milanese Via della Spiga and Via Montenapoleone, Roman Via dei Condotti or Florentine Via de’ Tornabuoni. I will speak about the phenomenon of designer outlet villages in Italy. It is incredible, how many people are coming to this country only for the possibility to make shopping in one or few of them. And, how many – involve these outlets to their relaxing holiday’s agenda…

Once I visited the Italian outlet village too, ‘cause had to find what to wear for a very important occasion in my life. So, that time I’ve chosen to check out one, located close to Milan. And, I got totally disappointed! Yes, that was really very nice and clean place, like a small town, filled up with countless number of various designer boutiques and regular clothing shops. But, first of all, for me the soul was missing there: the soul of this polished tiny city, and the soul of sad old clothing and footwear, which were left, ‘cause nobody wanted to buy them on the right time… Then, secondly – I didn’t like the offer. Yes, outlets are famous for the goods from previous collections, which you’ll never find anymore in regular shops, but I simply expected something else… And, thirdly – I didn’t like the prices, ‘cause in some cases even with discounts they really remained indecently too high. Ok, of course luxury costs, and all is good with that, but sometimes you see that it’s totally not worth.

I am not saying that such outlets are wrong places to buy things – I know people who can really successfully spend there bunch of cash. In my opinion, all that depends on a few aspects: personal style, luck and general ability to find things. Probably I was not in the right mood that day for digging the clothing mines, so I really didn’t buy anything. My only purchase in the outlet village was freshly squeezed orange juice! Pure haute couture!

After this experience, I found out that I am totally not the outlet person. If I need something particular, then I prefer to wander around Santa Croce zone in Florence or Navigli and Brera zones in Milan by checking out all tiny boutiques on my way.

Tell me, what do you think about Italian outlet villages?

Note. Usually there is being provided a service of shuttle buses, going from major cities to these designer outlet villages. Yes, that is necessary, ‘cause they are almost always located quite far. But, always think twice before taking the shuttle! Their timetables may be very uncomfortable. In this case I mean the round trip, giving you five or seven hours of time in the outlet village. Wait, but what to do if you’re done with your shopping in two hours? So, the most comfortable way to reach such outlets is by car. Don’t have this possibility? Consider regular trains, then!

By Gintarė Adamonytė

More about shopping in Italy: Italy off the beaten path: luxury Forte dei Marmi and cozy Pietrasanta


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