For emerging and small-scale fashion labels, Milan can be a tough nut to crack. With big players like Prada, Gucci, Bottega Veneta usually taking center stage at Milan Fashion Week (already one of the most crowded fashion week calendars), it’s a difficult task to get the fashion set to take notice without the advantage of big budgets and a celebrity front-row. While established Italian houses continue to deliver exciting collections, it’s important not to ignore the under the radar talent that also contributes to Italy’s reputation as a go-to for fashion innovation and craftsmanship. In the spirit of always looking for what’s next, presenting, seven brands we see as worthy challengers to shake up the Italian fashion scene. A few have already gained enough momentum and excitement to attract buyers from Matches and Net-a-Porter, so it’s only a matter of time before they show up everywhere else. From resort-focused brands like Le Sirenuse Positano to newcomers that champion sustainability like Garbage Core and Gioia Bini, these are the Italian brands to watch. If you can count Rei Kawakubo as a mentor, you know that you’ve made some sort of impression. Sara Lanzi established her company over a decade ago, but the Italian designer has recently started to make waves on a larger scale, with her collections placing in retailers like Dover Street Market and Nordstrom. She’s an expert at creating high-impact pieces that require little to no effort to pull off: think whimsical jackets with unique shapes and voluminous dresses. Turning the world of denim on its head is Made In Tomboy. If you’re guessing, the namesake sort of speaks for itself: with super wide-leg jeans and billowy puff sleeve tops, each piece incorporates a masculine flair on classic casual staples. While Italy may not immediately come to mind on the topic of denim, that soon may change. With Milanese label Garbage Core, modern bespoke meets sustainability. Launched by Giuditta Tanzi in 2019, the brand upcycles flea market finds to construct entirely new couture creations. With that in mind, each item is entirely one of a kind, so if you have your eye on something it’s best to act fast. We love its homemade appeal with deconstructed seams and asymmetric construction. If you aim to capture the vintage glamour of Italian film stars on the Amalfi Coast, check out Gioia Bini. The eponymous label from designer Gioia Bini was born out of her childhood travels between Florence and Sub-Saharan Africa. It nails the balance between effortless and elegance with retro-inspired dresses you’d imagine wearing on a yacht in the middle of the Mediterranean. Count yourself lucky if you’ve had the pleasure of staying at Le Sirenuse Positano on Italy’s Amalfi Coast. Since travel is virtually off the table, you can at least transport yourself there with the resort’s clothing collection, Emporio Le Sirenuse. Of course, there are lots of caftans and easy-breezy tops meant for mornings lounging at the beach, but there are some cool pieces you can easily adapt into your daily wardrobe with the right styling. We love the bright tropical leaning prints and saturated colors. Blaze Milano is already a brand blinking on the radar of most fashion-girls, but it’s not as much a household name as the Guccis and Pradas of the world. You’ll want to keep note of this brand if you’re a fan of elevated separates, and as its name suggests, it’s no surprise that tailored blazers are what they do exceptionally well. Its funky retro patterns also stand out amid the sea of minimalist leaning brands.
Much like Sita Abellan’s eccentric style, Lilith is really not like anything else. The brand– which is handmade in Milan–is inspired by astrology and tarot, with items like earrings emblazoned with painted enamel snakes and gold lunar themed chain belts. Everything comes in at a pretty affordable price point of under $250. An alum of Schiaparelli and Rochas, Marco Zanini was a well-seasoned designer before launching his own label a few years ago. His first collection debuted during the F/W19 season at Milan Fashion Week, prompting praise for its strong tailoring and point of view. For the brand, the fabrics play just as big of a role as the designs themselves: each piece is meant to be elegantly timeless.