Milan, Italy. An icon of a city. Before coming to Milan, my perception of the city was something like this: unless you are part of the Kardashian clan and have millions to blow, there is no point in hitting the shops.
In this, I was wrong.
As per usual, you have the staple Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada, and the likes lined down the iconic Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, as well as several discount boutiques with everything from Balenciaga to Yves-Saint Laurent. You may even stumble across a few shops down some alleys with vintage Gucci heels, as I did. There are a variety of more affordable stores as well. H&M and Zara are located just a minute’s walk from the Duomo, and plenty of department stores are just a google search away. Don’t fall into the misconception Milan is only for the rich – sure, there are plenty of high-end stores, just like in any other major metropolis, but there is an equal amount of affordable shopping on almost every street as well.
In terms of street style, the go-to is black. Black everything: black purses, black jumpers, black heels, black scarves. You name it, 9/10 times it is black. Whether dressed for a night out or a casual aperitivo with friends, black seems to be the color of choice. While there, one of my favorite activities was people-watching as I waited for my food at a restaurant down a picturesque alley. I could sit for hours watching the different styles walk down the street. One of my takeaways was for certain: there is never such thing as “too much” in Milan.
The biggest surprise for me (though, it should not have been a surprise at all) was the sheer amount of Instagram influencers flooding the streets. This was the first time I got a close up look at the behind-the-scenes of one of the most photographed cities in the world. Instead of admiring the Duomo, I couldn’t help but notice girls dressed as if it was Fashion Week, holding empty Louis Vuitton bags and posing obnoxiously for photos. What I saw on Instagram countless times before felt much different to what I was experiencing at this moment.
I am not going to lie – it made me sick to my stomach. The perfectly edited image presented on Instagram is clouded by the evident lack of living in the moment in reality. Milan is full of history: The Last Supper, countless priceless works of art in the Pinacoteca di Brera, the historic Sforzesco Castle… the list goes on. Those who seemed like influencers rarely took the time to look around at the magnificent city they were in. Is this what fashion is turning to?
In recent years, it feels as though the industry, specifically within the online community, has become more of a transitory, fleeing concept, with hoards of bloggers, influencers, etc. flocking to the next picturesque city to capture the latest trends. As a result, to me, fashion feels more distant. It is as if it is moving towards a simplification, a secluded bubble if you will. Fashion’s representation is becoming rather simplified and losing its unique narrative as a complex mesh of people and cultures and narratives. I may be reaching, and I may be wrong. One thing is for sure: Milan’s fashion scene is not one to miss. Milan itself is a work of art and deserves to be treated as such. I can’t help but wonder if Instagram influencers who come for their pictures actually look up from their phones once in a while.