For centuries, Italy has lured travelers looking to enjoy the trappings of la dolce vita—everything from architecture to food done with tremendous style. And Venice is ground zero for Italians doing what they do best. The city’s many islands are brimming with palazzos plastered with Renaissance masterpieces and impeccably turned-out locals sipping their daily aperitivo. Like most Italian guys, Venetian men have a way with fashion—equal parts tailored and rakish, and always effortless. Given its history as the epicenter of Italy’s textile trade, Venice’s shopping scene is rich with stores that specialize in exemplary materials. While the standard Venetian souvenirs like gondolier sweaters and velvet slippers certainly have their charms, these three stores are your best bet for adding a bit of that enviable Italian style to your own wardrobe.
Al Duca d’Aosta
Beginning in 1902 as a shirting fabric shop, Al Duca d’Aosta has grown to become Venice’s most dynamic multi-brand boutique. Now run by the fourth generation of the founder’s family, the store stocks a unique mix of brands that run the gamut from traditional (think Loro Piana and Lardini) to avant-garde (think Comme des Garçons and Marni) alongside a slew of under-the-radar Italian labels. One of the few department stores in Venice, Al Duca d’Aosta carries men’s fashion, shoes, and accessories as well as a full range of women’s offerings. The store also produces its own in-house collection of beautifully made staples like ribbed wool sweaters and plaid Crombie coats.
Golden Goose Deluxe Brand
Though Golden Goose’s artfully distressed sneakers have become a worldwide phenomenon, the brand’s roots are in Venice. Founded by two native Venetians, Golden Goose’s hometown flagship is on a prime block between Piazza San Marco and Harry’s Bar (a favorite watering hole of everyone from Ernest Hemingway to Brad Pitt). The store’s interiors nod to Venice’s history, with walls upholstered in Rubelli silk damask and floors tiled with Carrera marble. The clothes, however, are unmistakably of-the-moment: Glossy leather bombers, sleek blazers, and a variety of pitch-perfect jeans all stock the shelves—as does, of course, dozens of pairs of the brand’s signature kicks.
Venice-based Barena draws inspiration from the utilitarian attire of local sailors and fishermen, upping the luxe factor by rendering classic pieces in exquisite fabrics and refined details. Its intimate little shop—across from one of Venice’s few mid-century architectural gems, Cassa di Risparmio—feels like a gentleman’s study-cum-closet, with all dark wood paneling and a rolling library ladder to access clothes tucked into the floor-to-ceiling cabinets. The small but thoughtfully curated selection includes a variety of unstructured blazers, work-wear jackets, and trimly tailored trousers in ruggedly elegant fabrics like mottled wool and washed linen. In addition to Barena’s seasonal collections, the store also stocks several exclusive pieces created with vintage or limited-run textiles.