Calling all fashionistas:
Tuscany is designer-outlet heaven
Fashion fans, it’s time to put down that glass of Chianti and hit the shops because the countryside around Florence is one of the world’s best designer discount-shopping destinations. This is where many of the top luxury houses (we’re talking names such as Prada) have their production facilities. And at their factory shops, you’ll find pieces on offer from previous seasons with a whopping 30 to 50 per cent off the recommended retail price. But it can still be pricey – don’t see it as a cheap-and-cheerful bargain, more an investment for less. This is the moment to crack open the savings and splash out on that designer bag or wallet you’ve always wanted, a Dolce & Gabbana dress you’ll still be wearing in a decade, or to stockpile some classic Armani suiting. Make sure the following are on your hit-list:
This vast, open-air space contains the biggest selection of fashion labels – including Valentino, Moncler and Saint Laurent. For the best discounts on pieces, go for the Italian labels. Number one on your list should be the huge Gucci outlet. White-hot since creative director Alessandro Michele took over in 2015, the pieces here have now caught up (until fairly recently, they were still clearing the last of previous designer Frida Giannini’s collections). And there’s a queue to match, with a tightly controlled entry system letting very few people in at a time. Expect to wait half an hour to enter, even if it looks quiet. Inside, make a beeline for the accessories – snap up leather belts with the GG buckle and any of Michele’s hit bags, such as the Dionysus (especially in the classic Gucci monogram leather). If you find Ace trainers on offer, don’t hesitate – they’re a modern men’s classic. Elsewhere, the best buys are Made in Italy standards. Head to Marni for artsy prints and chunky resin jewellery, Armani for Giorgio’s signature slim-fit, two-piece suits, Ferragamo for classic ladylike quilted pumps. A Moncler down puffer jacket and a pair of Tod’s Gommino loafers will add some Italian polish to any wardrobe.
The Italian fashion giant Prada has its own dedicated outlet a few minutes from The Mall, selling both Prada mainline and Miu Miu. Prada runway pieces featuring each collection’s key prints become instant classics, so keep your eyes peeled for standouts such as a jacket or T-shirt emblazoned with feminist cartoons from SS17. There’s also a huge selection of bags and small leather goods – quilted leather Miu Miu wallets and iPad cases make brilliant presents.
Dolce & Gabbana
This label is known for turning out an extensive commercial collection in every conceivable colour and variation, making rich outlet pickings for fans. Every product category has its own area at this dedicated outlet – there are rails of blazers, racks of skirts, a whole section for jackets, and so on. Dolce ode-to-Italy prints never date, so treat yourself to a 1950s-style sundress or a weekend shirt in a colourful oranges-and-lemons pattern. The design house also excels at va-va-voom evening attire – one of its tuxedos or a corseted black lace dress will see you through years of parties and functions.
Barberino Designer Outlet
Part of the McArthurGlen outlet chain, this mall offers mid-market casualwear labels, including Tommy Hilfiger and Gap – although the discounts on US brands here aren’t particularly good. Instead, check out Italian contemporary labels such as Pinko and accessories brand Coccinelle for cool, dressed-down pieces with a twist.
Valdichiana Outlet Village
Valdichiana has less of a selection of recognisable fashion labels. but is worth a stop for homewares. Pick up kitchen essentials such as an espresso machine from Bialetti, and treat yourself to some pretty napkins from Borgo Tessile. There’s also a Calzedonia store – Verona’s answer to Victoria’s Secret – which offers well-priced lingerie and hosiery, and colourful swimwear.
Jess Wood is Fashion Features Director at Marie Claire marieclaire.co.uk
The Mall Luxury Outlets Via Europa 8, 50066 Leccio Reggello (Florence). Tel: +39 055 8657775 Web: themall.it/en/outlet-italy
Space PRADA Outlet Loc Levanella, Via Aretina 403, 52025 Montevarchi (Arezzo). Tel: +39 055 9196528 Web: facebook.com/pages/Space-PRADA-outlet
Dolce & Gabbana Factory Outlet Via Santa Maria Maddalena 49, 50064 Incisa Val d’arno (Florence). Tel: +39 1300 055 833.
Barberino Designer Outlet Via Meucci, 50031 Barberino di Mugello (Florence). Tel: +39 055 842161 Web: mcarthurglen.com/en/outlets/it/designer-outlet-barberino
Valdichiana Outlet Village Via Enzo Ferrari, 5, 52045 Foiano della Chiana (Arezzo). Tel: +39 0575 649926 Web: valdichianaoutlet.it/en