Five niche Italian brands helping Milan Fashion Week get its mojo back
Gucci may be getting the headlines but it is actually a series of small home-grown labels – including Attico and For Restless Sleepers – that are injecting a much-needed dose of excitement into Milan’s fashion scene
Fashion people, especially jaded editors, love to hate Milan. Too commercial, goes the refrain. Not enough young designers at the expense of corporate giants. Too many accessories and few exciting shows.
While it is not the first time that critics have predicted Milan’s demise as a fashion capital, this season the complaints turned into a mini controversy that engulfed the fashion community both in Italy and across the Atlantic.
An article published in The New York Times, provocatively titled “Does Milan Matter?”, ruffled the feathers of the city’s glitterati, who were quick to defend their hometown. From Stefano Gabbana, who on Instagram exhorted his fellow Italian designers to boycott the publication and ban it from its shows (something that Dolce & Gabbana has been doing for years) to Italy’s most prominent newspapers, La Repubblica and Corriere della Sera, the local fashion community was very vocal in its rebuke.
While there is some truth to the issues raised by the American publication, you cannot deny that in recent seasons Milan has gone through a renaissance of sorts. The city’s fashion week is no longer synonymous with big labels and a dearth of creative talent.
Many attribute this new-found vitality to the incredible success of Gucci, the label du jour. The mega brand has undeniably played a pivotal role in putting Milan back on the fashion map, but it is actually a series of small home-grown labels that have injected a much-needed dose of excitement into the city’s fashion scene.
What all these niche brands have in common, in spite of their disparate offerings, is that they focus on one key thing and do it well, without trying to be all things to all people.
Controversy aside, here is a look at five Milan-based brands delivering those much-touted “investment pieces” that are the foundations of every woman’s wardrobe.
For Restless Sleepers
Also known as F.R.S., this brand specialises in printed silk pyjamas that can be worn out and about. In only four seasons, it has become a runaway success. Francesca Ruffini, the founder of the label, is also the wife of Moncler owner Remo Ruffini. Available in Hong Kong at Lane Crawford
Founded by street-style stars Gilda Ambrosio and Giorgia Tordini, Attico offers kimono-style robes that can be dressed down with a pair of jeans or worn on their own as evening wear. The brand has struck a chord among girls who like to be covered up but still look cool. Available in Hong Kong at Joyce
JJ Martin, a Milan-based American journalist and the creator of La DoubleJ, is one of the city’s chicest tastemakers. Her eclectic style and love for vintage are reflected in her brand’s colourful dresses, all featuring original patterns sourced from silk weavers in the nearby city of Como. Available at matchesfashion.com
Carlotta Oddi, a former assistant to Vogue Japan’s Anna Dello Russo, and her brother Niccolò founded Alanui as a passion project. The label, which takes its name from a Hawaiian word meaning “large path”, offers tribal-inspired embellished cardigans in fine-gauge cashmere. Available at net-a-porter.com
Corrada Rodriguez D’Acri, Delfina Pinardi and Sole Torlonia established Blazé Milano after meeting while working at Elle Italia. The brand makes what the trio calls “the simplest and most elegantly discreet garment” – the blazer. You can also have one custom-made at their ateliers in Milan and Rome. Available in Hong Kong at Lane Crawford