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Milan’s Montenapoleone luxury street moving towards China, rents keep climbing

by Giulia Crivelli

In 2016, Milan’s via Montenapoleone hit yet another milestone: according to the latest figures from Cushman & Wakefield, rent per square meter on Milan’s most famous high-end shopping street rose by 20% to €12,000 per year, ranking number one in Italy and third overall in Europe. Has the crisis, or at least a slowdown, not affected the luxury sector?

“We’re still growing in every sense, because there’s no street like via Montenapoleone in the world: a place that offers such fine quality goods, from jewelry to clothing, watches to accessories, with historical restaurants like Marchesi and Cova,” replies Guglielmo Miani, president of the 150-member Via Montenapoleone Association, “If you also take into account the entire Fashion District, there are also design firms, home furnishings, and other fine dining establishments.”

Having been tasked since 2010 (in April he won reelection to his third term) with promoting the street which was formerly known as the “Contrada del Monte” before 1861, Miani is particularly proud of the deal he just signed in China. “Via Montenapoleone will be the centerpiece of the Italy-China Fashion and Creativity Committee’s plan, which was created on November 19th at the Shanghai Furniture Expo during the tenth Forbes Forum in China,” he explains. “Thanks to an agreement with Nanjing Road, Shanghai’s most important luxury street, we will bring our ’Vendemmia’ event to China: an event that we have been holding for the past seven years in Milan, and is dedicated to excellent wines. We are also working on a nautical event: Italy is the global leader in high-end nautical goods”.

His goal is to introduce ‘Made in Italy’ and the Italian lifestyle to the Chinese: this small taste of the country will serve to entice the Chinese into coming here and experiencing a more complete and fascinating version. “What the Americans call, ‘the real thing,’” says Miani, smiling, “We want to play an active part in promoting and creating value not just for via Montenapoleone and Milan, but for all of Italy, with our numerous wonders spread through places that few tourists know. Our street is an exceptional showcase, the tip of the iceberg in displaying the creativity and artisanal qualities that our country has expressed for centuries.”

The campaign to entice and attract Chinese tourists (who have lead the world in Italian luxury sales for two years) is working in tandem with Milan’s plans to attract global shoppers from other countries. “We are currently in the sixth edition of our Christmas shopping experience,” Miani explains, “Until January 13th, there will be decorative lights and music (enchanting, but not intrusive) on Montenapoleone, Verri, Sant’Andrea, Santo Spirito, Borgospesso, and Bagutta streets, thanks to a deal with Radio Montecarlo. And that’s not all: for the third year in a row, we’ll be displaying Christmas lights outside of the city center. In 2016 we chose to display them in the Ponte Lambro neighborhood, because Milan is much more than just the Fashion District.”

The Association (which just joined the Altagamma Foundation in November) has just signed a strategic deal with SEA Prime, who manage private flights at Linate and Malpensa airports. “We will have two Prime Lounges where you can book customized flights, with a private fitting room and personal shoppers who specialize in different fields: fashion, design, jewelry, and watches,” Miani concludes, “But you can also reserve tickets for soccer games, auto races, and stage shows, with interpreter services and tours designed around luxury shopping.”