Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana are about to unveil a groundbreaking new retail concept — and this time, the Milanese fashion duo isn’t shy about highlighting the work of other designers.
This story first appeared in the September 16, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
This weekend, Dolce & Gabbana will open Spiga2, a multibrand boutique that is curated by Dolce and Gabbana and features the work of young, emerging designers from around the world. The store is located at Milan’s Via della Spiga 2, which was previously an accessories-only store for the brand. Dolce and Gabbana handpicked the pieces they are planning to sell in the store, and the first run of designers includes Behnaz Sarafpour, Sophie Theallet, Yigal Azrouël, Fannie Schiavoni, Erkan Coruh, Peter Jensen and Heather Williams.
“We wanted to create a new, special place, unique in the world,” Dolce and Gabbana said. “With this project, we give the emerging designers we have handpicked from all over the world visibility, offering them a real opportunity.”
The designers see this more than just a retail shop. They describe the boutique as “not only a store, but a meeting place where one can constantly get involved. The different cultures dissolve to create an innovative aesthetic language where tradition looks to the future and fashion meets technology, and where one can live the hospitable and warm ambiances of yesteryear’s village shops.”
The designers hope the boutique becomes a home to “young generations” and a “place of conversation,” offering visitors Internet services, which means they can blog about their experiences on location, share their thoughts and create a dialogue about these emerging designers.
The mix of designers and their work is expected to evolve continuously, and Dolce and Gabbana plan to sell their own accessories collections alongside the work of the designers.
Unlike other fashion capitals, Milan is generally known as a city of established designers with few opportunities for up-and-coming talent, though there have been efforts to change this. In 2005, Vogue Italia, with the support of Alta Roma, introduced the Who Is on Next competition for emerging designers.
Dolce and Gabbana’s efforts are likely to boost the city’s profile for younger designers. The duo has long been critical of the existing fashion system, and served as fashion pioneers in addressing the issues, which include the ongoing problem of untimely deliveries that results in fur coats being sold in July and chiffon tops, for instance, in November.
“I started asking myself, ‘What’s happening?’ I live in Milan and one day last winter I saw cotton shorts in our Dolce & Gabbana store,” Gabbana told WWD in 2008. “As a consumer I said, ‘No, this makes no sense.’
“I don’t want cherries or strawberries at Christmas anymore. I want to eat, dress and live on time,” he noted. “I think we all need to sit back and ponder over this anxiety we all have of constantly needing to anticipate.”
The duo has also started to address unrealistic price points and begun to shave prices by between 10 and 20 percent, while maintaining creativity and quality for both the main and D&G lines. “This crisis has two key aspects: it’s international and social. The first thing people say these days when they walk into a store is, ‘Nice, but how much?’” Gabbana noted last year. “In this moment of uncertainty, people spend more willingly on travel or spas rather than on a new dress. We want to work for the final consumer.”