If you’re looking for street culture in Milan, then the Slam Jam Milan store is the city’s holy grail.
Located in Lanza, just outside the fashion-driven neighbourhood of Brera, the Slam Jam Milan store stocks a host of the world’s most sought after brands – from Japan’s most revered designers to a host of lesser known American brands.
A pointed curation of runners and streetwear, Slam Jam opened its doors in Lanza, in 2016. Since then, it’s grown to be the go-to spot for the latest releases in Milan. When we pulled up to speak with Marcello Cutrona, the store manager and buyer for the Slam Jam Milan store, a line of people waited outside to pick up their successful sneaker raffle. This store is the physical manifestation of the trends that have swept Milan in recent years.
But the quality and exclusivity surrounding the brands stocked by Slam Jam are not always fully appreciated by the local populace. As Marcello told Streetwear Jobs, the youth generally are looking for trendy brands, getting inspired by their favourite rapper or celebrity. The appreciation for a cut, a fit, or a brand’s story is generally less important than if Travis Scott or Italian trap star Sfera Ebbasta is donning it in his latest music video.
“Street culture is now mostly hype-driven” Cutrona told us.
Italy is traditionally connected more to bespoke suits and classic menswear than the new trend of streetwear. Many of the country’s factories and more glamorous thoroughfares still cater to a crowd seeking a more classic masculine look. In days past, the Paninaro movement emerged – largely influenced by looks from the UK or US.
But Cutrona said the young generation of teens to early 20 year olds, which makes up around 60 percent of Slam Jam’s clientele, are mostly influenced by rap icons. They pick heroes and follow their style. The passion for a particular pair of shoes or jacket though is just not there.
“We’re missing a street culture,” he said. “In the US you have sneaker culture, like with the (release for the) Nike SB Pigeon, it was really impressive. But in Italy we just have people wear what they see on Instagram, or Hypebeast etc.”
This is most apparent in Milan. The fashion capital of Italy, Milan’s reputation has often been of a conservative fashion city. New York and Paris fashion weeks’ have been more daring than here. But a walk around the trendy Naviglio neighbourhood reveals an ubiquity of brands like Off-White, Balenciaga, Gucci, Supreme, GCDS and more. Virgil Abloh set up Off-White’s office in Milan recently and the influence has been palpable. The youth of Milan have traded in the button downs for box-cut tees and the leather loafers for Nike collabs.
Leading this renaissance is a host of streetwear stores. And Milan’s crown jewel is Slam Jam. If anyone will teach the city to have a genuine and organic street culture, it’s people like Cutrona. The store began by selling a host of Japanese brands like WTAPS, Undercover, BAPE and more. Cutrona says these brands make up the “DNA” of the store, but they’ve since expanded to a host of other brands and are now looking to include more indy brands from America – as we saw with the American brand Paterson now stocked there.
“We want to believe in the brand and their philosophy,” Cutrona said. “We want to look at small t-shirt brands from LA and the city style of New York. We’re also following the outdoor movements.”
By bringing in new brands to Italy, the goal is to influence people to not only shop for brands with hype but to develop a personal style. The hope is that people can move away from shopping exclusively for something that they hope will give them a certain status. Instead, streetwear can be paired with the Italian tradition of personal style.
“Our aim is to drive people towards looking for their own inspiration” Cutrona said.