Do you get a thrill out of finding a totally unique item for bargain prices? Does the idea of finding one of these pieces in a foreign country make the idea even more appealing and the piece even more sentimental? If so, then you might have been Googling, “thrift stores in insert city here.” This works for some places and doesn’t in others. Milan is, from my experience, one of the places where Google isn’t very helpful.
Since I relocated to the fashion capital for half a year and spent a good chunk of that time wandering around, I thought I would compile a list of my favorite thrift shops in Milan. Most of these are located in the south/central region of the city (around Tram 3 if you know where that is) because that’s where I was living and exploring the most.
This is by no means an exhaustive list; unless you are walking around every neighborhood in the city, you will never find all the hidden gems. Someone really needs to tell Italy that it’s helpful to list their businesses in Google Maps. Until then, hopefully this list (and the map below) helps some of you. If you know of any places I missed, please leave them in the comment section to help everyone out!
Specchio di Alice
This is my favorite thrift shop in Milan by far! They have a huge selection of Dr. Martens, flannels, army jackets, and Levi’s. The prices are more expensive than a Goodwill but pretty on par for more “curated” shops back home. I bought a pair of vintage Lee jeans from there to fit in with the whole Levi 501 trend (which I have come to realize will never fit me). There are about 500 other items there that I’d love to bring home but I have taken a vow of relative minimalism and so they will live on only in my memories.
Groupies is much the same aesthetic as Specchio di Alice but, from my experience, it has more (amazing) custom pieces, but higher prices and less selection. I think that, for the right person, it’s a goldmine. For me, I couldn’t begin to dream about affording one of their custom pieces and the rest of the store was slim-pickings which made it so I never returned after my initial visit.
This shop, while cute, runs a bit expensive for me and doesn’t quite fit my taste. It’s one of the largest I’ve seen, practically taking up an entire alley with their collection of ever expanding shops and with what looks like another location elsewhere in the city I’ve never visited. If you have a more classic or girly sense of style and a bigger budget, this shop will be right up your alley. For someone like me, it’s still fun to peruse but I think it’d be unlikely that I’d every buy anything.
Humana Vintage Milano
This is probably the closest to Goodwill that Italy has (at least inside the city) but it’s still very small. The selection in the store is the most random and least curated of this list and the prices are pretty reasonable for Italy. Best of all, the store is just around the corner from Duomo in the city center, so if you are only in the city for a few days and want to get something totally unique for your closet to remember the city, this is your best bet.
While this really isn’t a thrift store, the selection and atmosphere is too cute to omit from this list. It’s a nicer flea market that meets about once a month, sometime more for special edition markets. It’s the only thing place on the list I haven’t personally been to because it’s super inconveniently located for where I was living and I never had the time or motivation to get over there. However, it’s such a cool market that I just had to include it on the list. Let me know in the comments if you check it out!
If you’re like me and find that the whole point of thrift shopping is to find randomly amazing items for dirt cheep, then this list might be disappointing to you so far. That’s because, for the most part, thrift shops in Milan are very curated and expensive and nothing like the Goodwill or Salvation Army’s Americans are used to. If you don’t mind digging and fighting through crowds, then your best bet for finding cheep clothes are the neighborhood flea markets.
Most of them are on Saturday but they can be during the weekdays too. The smaller markets will be mostly produce with a few booths selling random stuff like cleaning supplies and what I call “China clothes” (meaning the super low quality, cheep clothes that shops buy in bulk directly from the factory, often located in China). However, some of the bigger markets are actually known for their used clothing selection.
I have personally only been to Viale Papiniano Market which is every Saturday. It’s very big with quite a few booths that are entirely bins full of used clothes to dig through ranging from 1-3€ a piece. Another market in the area that I know of is Fiera di Sinigaglia but I have never been. Other than those two, I would recommend you to ask around if there is a market in your area and when it’s held. Otherwise, do some translating and see if Google can tell you if there’s anything nearby.