In Italy, the most important decisions of the day revolve around what to wear and what to eat. So it seems inevitable that top fashion brands are venturing into the food business—specifically, the hybrid bakery-cafés where well-dressed Italians congregate over morning pastries, then lunch, aperitivi and savory snacks, all the way through to late-night scoops of gelato.
Roberto Cavalli, the sexy-animal-prints pioneer, augured the trend when he revamped Florence’s beloved Caffè Giacosa more than a decade ago. Clearly he was onto something. Recently, Prada purchased Milan’s historic pasticceria Marchesi after luxury-goods powerhouse LVMH (which owns Italian brands like Fendi, Loro Piana and Emilio Pucci, as well as a plethora of French and American ones) bought the rivaling Cova. It’s no coincidence that these places are in fashionable shopping neighborhoods, so customers can have a 360-degree brand experience.
- Meet the Artist Behind the Most Insta-Worthy Café in the U.S.
- This New Café Will Give You an Inside Look at the World’s Best Coffee Machines
- Where to Go Next: Milan
If this trend sounds frivolous, it shouldn’t. Fashion houses helped save Italy’s landmarks in the midst of the 2008 economic crisis: Tod’s paid for the restoration of Rome’s Colosseum; Diesel backed the redo of Venice’s Rialto Bridge. Now they’re keeping another venerated tradition alive: the Italian café.