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Milan: from Apple to Uniqlo. International brands conquering the golden mile

11 September, La Repubblica

From America to Japan, the big international brands chose Milan to enter the Italian market and, in some cases, Europe. After Starbucks, the golden mile between San Babila and Cordusio will see the arrival in the next months of two other international stores, already present in New York and other European capitals.

Yesterday it was announced the opening of the first Nba European store in Galleria Passarella. The objective is to open the store already by Christmas, reproducing the same style of the megastore on Fifth Avenue, with a multi-storey shop selling Nba official merchandise, like players’ uniforms and autographed balls. This is great news for basketball lovers. Besides the stores in the US, the last Nba store was opened last January in Qatar.

Another brand already present in New York, Paris, Berlin, Barcelona, and Japan (its home country) is Uniqlo. The clothing chain has become famous for its ultra-light jackets and its cashmere jumpers at affordable prices. The store will open in Piazza Cordusio 2, in the early-20th- century building managed by the group Hines Italy and currently under renovation by the F&M Ingegneria and Park Associati. The project will implement in the building both commercial spaces and offices. Ideally, it will be the continuation of the requalification process of Piazza Cordusio, following the arrival of Starbucks. The store opened last week, causing a lot of debating from politicians: “I wouldn’t queue for two hours to have a coffee if you paid me” (Matteo Salvini), along with comments on the Italian pride (“How can you prefer their coffee to ours?”) and immigration (“Starbucks has arrived in Italy and will hire immigrants”) from politicians Giorgia Meloni and Silvia Sardone.

Maybe also the new Uniqlo store will stir up another debate. So far, there have been complaints about the “privatisation” of the sidewalk in front of Starbucks, which is occupied by outdoor tables. Who knows whether the debate will go on with the opening of four smaller stores by April. One of these will be located at the end of the golden mile, in Piazza San Fedele, close to another American store. It is, in fact, a restaurant of the American fast food joint Five Guys which opened at the beginning of the month. Also the restaurant chose Milan for its landing in Italy, placing itself close to other fast food chains such as McDonald’s.

However, not all the American brands that arrived in Italy had been successful. It’s the case of Banana Republic, which renovated the spaces of the historical building designed by Bbper in Corso Vittorio Emanuele to open its sole Italian store and had to close last year. Nevertheless, starting from Milan to conquer the Italian market is a consolidated trend. The choice is focused between San Babila and Castello, where there are also requalification projects concerning offices currently going on, like the building between Corso Vittorio Emanuele II and Corso Europa (built in the Fifties by Gio Ponti) which will be turned into the San Babila business centre.

The opening of the Apple store in Piazza Liberty last July seems to have been fully digested. In that case, the controversies concerned the big glass and water parallelepiped occupying the square and the transformation of cultural spaces (like the cinema Apollo) into megastores. The transition is still ongoing.

In an attempt to mediate the critics, Apple has proposed a calendar of cultural events, including music workshops and photography tours.

Source: La Repubblica

Translator: Cristina Ambrosi

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