Outlet Stores

19 04 2007

The best deals in usual stores in Italy is in January and July (like in the UK) where items are slashed by 70%. Discount stores never have sales. Outlet stores have items from previous years’ selections, factory seconds or showroom pieces. 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 1500. Some even stay closed for the entire day on Mondays. Pretty much avoid Mondays. Also check for Bank Holidays – they have loads of them. As you are a visitor and plan to leave the European Union, 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. If you are serious about scouting out discount stores and outlets, pick up “Lo Scopri Occasioni”, written by Theodora Van Meurs and published by Editoriale Shopping Italaia S.R.L. This English book serves as a guide map to finding the stores you want to visit, listing over 2000 shops along with directions and what to expect when you get there.

If it’s Prada, Fendi, Armani, Gucci, or other famous Italian fashion designers that rock your boat, most 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, Tuscany (half way 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 see the crowd of people waiting to get in. There is a queue to enter but 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. Arrive before 0930 when the store opens. The Gucci outlet is nearby in Tuscany, at Leccio Reggello. The building itself is not marked “Gucci” but 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. Check out the Armani Factory Store in the town of Vertemate, near Como. Three stories of Armani fashions, direct from the Emporio line. Nearby is the Jil 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. Head to the town of Parre, near Bergamo, for Valentino bargains. The outlet is called New Marbas, and you’ll find an extensive collection of sweaters here. They also carry the Alfred Dunhill and Polo lines. 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, where they carry a full collection of garments, shoes, and accessories, mostly from the previous years’ lines. The Surplus Diesel is in Molvena, near Vicenza. Diesel has a bargain-basement feel with prices to match. You’ll find denim, children’s clothing and t-shirts. The first floor is full of factory seconds. Among the other outlet shops in Tuscany are Versace, Fendi, Ungaro, Tods. Yves St. Laurent, Ferragamo, and La Perla.  Outlet malls are becoming popular in Italy, and they can be found sprouting up in most major cities. Outlet malls of note are The Mall (outside of Florence), McArthur Glen Serravalle (Piedmont), and Fashion District (just south of Rome). Many major labels have shops in these outlet malls.  There are specialized tour groups for ardent shoppers. I laughed when I saw these in the Great Mall of America flying in shoppers from Scandinavia. I am sure the Fiorentinos are laughing at us now.