For those of us who love to shop, Florence is a veritable playground for fashion-seekers and the upwardly trendy. With some of the finest designer names in the world showcasing their covetable creations on Florentine streets, often with numerous showrooms around the city, the shopping experience can be a daunting one at times. Locals and travelers alike can pay homage to brands like Gucci, Roberto Cavalli, Dior and Prada on the exclusive and posh Via Tournabuoni, with Fendi and Louis Vuitton just around the corner on Via degli Strozzi.
These boutiques carry the latest “It” bags, clothes and accessories of the season: think eyelet shirts and dresses, skinny jeans, wedge-heeled platforms (innovated by Italy’s own Salvatore Ferragamo in 1938) and stripes, stripes, stripes!, along with the classic styles and silhouettes we’ve come to expect from these notorious design houses.
Incredulous of the thought of spending 400 Euro on a shirt? If the price tags on these uber-glamorous items force you to wince, don’t be deterred just yet.
There are countless stores around Florence with unique, captivating, signature merchandise that is much more affordable and conducive to the budget-oriented shopper.
Looking for the perfect vintage piece? Pitti Vintage on Sducciolo Dei Pitti has an ample array of well-maintained dresses, shoes, jewelry and other pieces dating from last season to as far back as 1930. Check out the handbags and old-school clutches, they have everything from patent leather to crocodile skin, to add some flare to your wardrobe.
The shop is quaint and fairly small, but packed with distinct pieces you won’t find anywhere else. Similarly, Sol Gabriel on Via Matteo Palmieri is another great option for vintage duds. The owner and head designer of the label (same name as the store), custom makes all of the handbags in the store from both modern and vintage fabrics. The result is a delicious fusion of contemporary shapes i.e. messenger bags, totes and dainty purses, with uniquely striking antique fabrics. The bags range from around 40 Euros to upwards of 100 Euros depending on size.
Perhaps the greatest feature Sol Gabriel offers is the option of having the bag of your heart’s desire custom-made as per request in only a matter of days. The affable owner is eager and willing to tailor any of the existing bags to meet the standards of even the most particular customer, or create a new handbag from scratch. The possibilities are endless!
For trendy clothes with an Italian-edge, seek out Miss Trench on Via Porta Rossa for Diesel jeans, Miss Sixty apparel, Dolce and Gabbana bathing suits and lingerie tops and a mixture of other Italian designers.
The Patrizia Pepe store near Piazza della Repubblica and Matucci on Via Cavour offer another taste of hip Italian street fashion. Although slightly pricey at times, the sales are a great chance to indulge in the lines’ sexy Euro-style garments without splurging.
Need the perfect gift for someone at home, or just looking for something fabulous that won’t drain your wallet? Look no further than the sprawling market at San Lorenzo. Here you can scrutinize the varied leather outlets offering gloves, belts, bags of all shapes and sizes and anything else that can possibly be made out of leather.
The market goes on for several blocks so be sure to check out all of the stalls before making any hasty purchases. You may be able to find what you’re looking for at a lower cost with a little searching and bargaining. San Lorenzo is also a great place to find looks right off the runway, no designer names here however, at affordable costs. You may have to argue for the price you want, but it’s all part of the fun.
For any style or look that strikes your fancy, there are countless stores in Florence that can wet your appetite.
Above all else, don’t be afraid to wander off the beaten path in search of a great piece of clothing or a bargain. Italy boasts some of the world’s greatest shopping. Buona Fortuna!
By Christine DiCrocco