Jonathan Anderson on his new store in Milan, an ode to the city’s design codes

For his second JW Anderson store – and first outside of London – Jonathan Anderson has set up shop in Milan with a space that pays homage to the city’s stylistic codes. Here, he tells Wallpaper* the story behind the opening

Neon lights at Jonathan Anderson’s JW Anderson Milan store
The exterior of the new JW Anderson store in Milan
(Image credit: © De Pasquale+Maffini, courtesy of JW Anderson)

On a sweltering afternoon last June, Jonathan Anderson took over a former industrial warehouse on the outskirts of Milan to show his Spring/Summer 2023 menswear collection for his eponymous brand, JW Anderson. Outside, models lounged on plinths; inside, the collection shown was an idiosyncratic ‘crash’ of influences and elements, from Rembrandt self-portraits to bicycle frames. Later in the evening, he took over a neon-lit Milanese nightspot, Teatro Principe – previously the Discoteca Tropicana – where guests danced long into the morning. 

It signalled the beginning of a more permanent relationship with the Italian city for the British designer, who is primarily associated with London – where he has traditionally shown his JW Anderson collections – and Paris, where Loewe holds its seasonal runway shows (Anderson is creative director of the Spanish luxury house alongside his own label). In January 2023, he returned to Milan to show his Autumn/Winter 2023 JW Anderson menswear collection at another warehouse space in the city; this week, he opens the doors to a store in the Quadrilatero – Milan’s traditional shopping district – which marks his first outside of London for the brand and second JW Anderson store overall (the Soho store opened in early 2020, just prior to the pandemic).

Jonathan Anderson on his new Milan store

Inside of JW Anderson store in Milan

The design features walnut fluted panels and a custom terrazzo floor

(Image credit: © De Pasquale+Maffini, courtesy of JW Anderson))

‘I love Milan because they love fashion,’ Anderson tells Wallpaper* of his decision to open in the city. ‘There’s a heightened curiosity and an appreciation for fashion in a way that’s very different [from other places].’

Located at 16 via Sant’Andrea – neighbours on the prestigious shopping street include Bottega Veneta, Miu Miu and Chanel – the single-storey 53 sq m store is divided over two rooms in a design by London-based 6a Architects, who previously ‘authored’ the JW Anderson Soho store (‘they’re fantastic, great architects – they understand and really grasp my visual language,’ says Anderson). A neon-lit signage – originally created as an ode to Soho nightlife – provides a visual link between the two stores, though Anderson says each outpost’s design is reflective of the city it is in.

Neon lights which read JW Anderson in window of Milan store

Neon lights in the window of the new store, reflecting those found in JW Anderson’s London outpost

(Image credit: © De Pasquale+Maffini, courtesy of JW Anderson)

Here, this means riffing on hallmarks of 20th-century Italian design – ‘the JW Anderson lexicon spoken in a Milanese inflection,’ as the notes on the store’s design read – particularly through the use of terrazzo which extends across the floor and is inset with the brand’s anchor motif. ‘The elements of Milanese design really factored into the materials we used in-store; it was very considered,’ he explains. ‘Particularly the amazing floor we installed. It’s really special because it’s almost a chequerboard effect – where it breaks up into different sections, but all rendered in terrazzo.’

Scaffolding-inspired fittings, like those found in the Soho space, provide a feeling of juxtaposition, while walnut-fluted panels and hanging curtains lend intimacy and warmth. Various pieces of furniture and artwork are placed ‘sparsely’ around the space, each chosen to reflect the feeling of entering a Milanese ‘salotto’ (salon). A ‘Cardinal Hat’ pendant light by Lutyens Furniture – a playful design made to evoke the headwear worn by Roman Catholic cardinals – hangs in the main space, while Mac Collins’ Iklwa chair and matching side tables for Benchmark Studio ‘nod to a [the] salotto with their imposing presence’. Artworks include a duo of oil paintings by Chinese artist Hongyan and images by German photographer Wolfgang Tillmans, the latter hanging in the fitting rooms.

Chair and table in JW Anderson Milan store

The store features Mac Collins’ Iklwa chair and side tables

(Image credit: © De Pasquale+Maffini, courtesy of JW Anderson)

‘For me, art is always going to be a language, it’s what I love,’ says Anderson. ‘I’m always discovering things I’m fascinated with or curious about. So designing a store, that’s the personal part. To me they’re just as important as a show, if not more – because they need to last. I enjoy the process, and being involved in every decision down to the door handles. The furniture, the lighting – every aspect I choose to include.’

It fits with a growing renaissance of bricks-and-mortar retail which has seen a slew of new and refurbished openings from both established houses (the blockbuster renovation of Tiffany‘s flagship in New York; Chanel and Gucci in Los Angeles) and independent labels (Tekla’s first ever store in Copenhagen; Aries debut store in London’s Soho). ‘Since the pandemic, the store experience has become more and more important for brands,’ says Anderson. ‘It’s an extension of the brand within a physical space and it’s a nice window into a brand. It allows people to engage on a different level.’

Fitting room of JW Anderson store in Milan

An image by Wolfgang Tillmans hangs in the store’s fitting room

(Image credit: © De Pasquale+Maffini, courtesy of JW Anderson)

‘There’s this relationship in a store that forms between the brand and the audience – and in a way, the store becomes a window to me,’ he continues. ‘It’s more embracing. It can explain what you’re about, your inspirations, and tell your story.’

JW Anderson Milan is found at Via Sant'Andrea, 16, 20121 Milano MI, Italy.

Fashion Features Editor

Jack Moss is the Fashion Features Editor at Wallpaper*, joining the team in 2022. Having previously been the digital features editor at AnOther and digital editor at 10 and 10 Men magazines, he has also contributed to titles including i-D, Dazed, 10 Magazine, Mr Porter’s The Journal and more, while also featuring in Dazed: 32 Years Confused: The Covers, published by Rizzoli. He is particularly interested in the moments when fashion intersects with other creative disciplines – notably art and design – as well as championing a new generation of international talent and reporting from international fashion weeks. Across his career, he has interviewed the fashion industry’s leading figures, including Rick Owens, Pieter Mulier, Jonathan Anderson, Grace Wales Bonner, Christian Lacroix, Kate Moss and Manolo Blahnik.