Our editorial team has a bit of a soft spot for the (until recently) hard-to-come-by Italian label Alberto Aspesi. To celebrate the launch of the brand's new online store, a few of our editors explain why a trip to Milan has always included a visit to the Aspesi store on Via Montenapoleone to stock up on shirts and Japanese nylon outerwear - and offer some random ramblings about fresh mozzarella cheese...
Nick Vinson, special projects director:
I moved to Milan in 1998 and that was when I first discovered Alberto Aspesi, the man and the brand. In the Montecarlo restaurant near his factory outside Milan, we ate delicious burrata. I was told Mr Aspesi only ate the creamy buffalo milk cheese on a Tuesday as he knew precisely when the deliveries came up from Naples and it was best fresh. It was my first lesson on the joys of Italian food. Needless to say, these days I am as picky as he about procuring produce.
Soon after that lunch I bought my first piece of Aspesi, a padded waistcoat in technical Japanese nylon, woven like poplin, a fabric with a super-fine yarn count and a really sophisticated continental colour card. 14 years on, I have amassed more than one piece of outerwear for each and every year, 16 pieces actually, at my last count. More waistcoats, heavy duty puffa jackets, packable puffa jackets, blousons, bombers and my number one favourite, the padded shirt - the newest version (in bottle green) got its first outing today.
For years Aspesi was the secret of the chic Milanese, almost a uniform in certain circles, and until now, with the new online store, it just was not available anywhere else. Aspesi, like Azzedine Alaïa, works to its own schedule, which presumably did not work for the American stores, who want fur and knitwear delivered in May and spring-like pastels delivered in November. So delivering winter in winter and summer in summer and having a very loyal client base at home meant things stayed, well, at home.
Introducing the brand's wares to friends and family meant that I was forever at Biffi in Milan stocking up and shipping to London, New York and San Diego (the first Aspesi store in Milan only opened in 2006 with other Italian locations and an outpost in Paris and Madrid following later). Thanks to the new website, its all just a click away.
Sébastien Clivaz, fashion director:
I heard about Aspesi during my first week at Wallpaper* when our former US editor handed me a shopping list and some cash. I was due to travel to Milan for Menswear and also (very importantly) to stop by the Aspesi store to shop and smuggle as much clothing as possible back to London (at the time Aspesi was only available in Milan).
Needless to say I caught the Aspesi bug and any spare space in my luggage has always been reserved for my purchases.
My first buy, and all-time favourite item, is a lightly padded nylon shirt. I wear it as outerwear over a thick jumper or layer under a formal coat when it gets cold. My next purchase will be a restock of chambray shirts.
Nick Compton, features director:
I'll be honest, it doesn't take much to keep me from schlepping out to the Fiera during Salone week in Milan. Give me the Brera or Golden Triangle beat any day. And there is one ritual element to my Salone time snuffling. I always shuffle my way into the Aspesi store and I always buy something.
The appeals are many. For one thing, it's such a calming space, somehow at odds with the dazzling clamour all around. The staff are friendly in exactly the right amount. Also, they have what I think they call in the trade a 'tight offer'.
They do a few jacket styles, a few shirts, and trousers, all in a good range of colours and fabrics. I like that. I'm easily confused.
It's also a good place to bump into people. I often bump into friends rifling through the rails rather than doing whatever they were supposed to be doing. Just like me.