Opening a small shop with a selection of vintage clothes and objects in the city of fashion is a bit like taking part to a yacht competition with a little sailing ship. It’s not an easy decision, but taste and style, mixed in the right way, always pay off.
TUG store is a small shop of second-hand clothes and accessories so carefully selected that, when you step inside, you have the feeling of entering a magic studio, Miriam and Francesca’s laboratory.
Miriam has always had a hard time as an employee, so after working for a while in the fashion industry she developed an idea of her own: a strictly cultural approach, far from a consumerist one. It took a couple of years of researching the sartorial and second-hand field before she developed the idea of having a unique product, clearly aesthetically defined, that went against the big chains and fashion brands leading the market.
“The first choice we all make is to decide what to wear. The way we get dressed conveys our thoughts and personality, our background, our mood. This is what pushes us towards the search for a unique, original piece, that allows us to freely express our individuality.”
Francesca’s addition, as an architect, allowed Miriam to synthesize her “cultural logorrhea” and give a specific line to the products the two girls choose for TUG.
Francesca, on the other hand, had experience as a furniture and vintage clothing buyer in Paris. She came back to Milan for love and met Miriam. Since then the two of them never divided and started to funnel their knowledge and their cultural and aesthetic vision of fashion inside TUG. The first thing the two of them agreed upon is the sartorial quality of clothes. “We are used to prices created by an industry”, says Francesca. “But you just have to look at the seam of the T-shirts we buy in big stores and compare it to sartorial tailor-made products to notice the difference. Here at TUG we look for those details: buttons, seams, fabrics that turn a random piece of clothing into a valuable piece. Sartorial items are researched, they are mathematical, architectural, almost art. Sometimes we keep some really strange pieces in our archive that we’re never going to sell – for us they are invaluable treasures. When our parents were kids, it was normal to have clothes made by a tailor. We want to go back to that dimension of customized pieces of clothing and accessories”.
“I’m into the nautical jargon”, Miriam says. “A tugboat is a small boat, very cute and powerful, that can drag huge industrial ships. In a moment of exaggeration, in a frantic aesthetic and market, we needed to find our safe harbor”.
Beside taking a precise stand regarding the fashion industry, Miriam and Francesca are against a certain idea of vintage: “Sometimes people who sell vintage happen to become a little bit vintage inside, too. We are not leaning on revivalism, we don’t think there was a golden age in fashion: we are looking for the identity of the single piece. That’s why we don’t buy stocks, but single items. Years ago, the reality of vintage shops in Milan was a chaos. You would enter in shops with huge baskets and have to dig for hours to find something decent. We select and display few pieces to prevent our clients from getting bored while looking for the right one. We also try to select particular items that are out of the customer’s comfort zone; we like to think that someone who comes here is prone to experimenting with herself, trying things she would have never imagined to wear. We want to give our customers the chance to open their eyes and leave with an idea of themselves a little bit different from the usual”.
“We cover miles and miles in our search: London, Berlin, Paris. Travelling helps us break the cliché that link certain kinds of people to certain ways of dressing. We think these labels shouldn’t exist and this is how we state it. That’s why our price policy is very democratic. We don’t care about design pieces. Instead, we aim at sartorial pieces because the greatest inspiration comes from there, from the hands.”
“Our aim from the very beginning was to make customers feel at ease, to make them feel at home. We decided to put a sofa right in the center of the shop to invite our clients to relax, to take it easy, to talk to us. We want it to be a moment of comparison, exchange, play. Our greatest satisfaction is to pass on to whoever comes to TUG the idea that you can’t judge a book by its cover, that the choice of a piece of clothing can be a statement of individuality, of freedom of choice.”
“The neighborhood where we opened our shop is not one of the usual shopping districts. We avoided a certain kind of circuit to settle in a corner of Milan that still works as it did forty, fifty years ago. Sure, today it’s an area where models hang out because of the showrooms, but it still has a popular soul linked to students and old houses. There’s a cross-feeling we love and a much more relaxed pace, reminiscent of the old Milan.”
5 * places suggested by TUG Store:
HOMH STREET YOGA: people practicing yoga and travelling a lot are always looking for places to feel comfortable in a nice atmosphere. The guys at this yoga center are young and super nice.
LUCA CIPELLETTI: a fully functioning architecture studio that was expanded and turned into a sort of museum. An extremely important place for Milan, being the capital of design and architecture, beside fashion.
LA DODO DESIGN: Dorothe is a Belgian girl who opened her small gallery in the same street as TUG. We respect not only her research because it’s very particular in Milan and bears a strong Northern-European taste, but also her bravery in opening such a place here.
DIMORE GALLERY: one of the most beautiful 20th century collections in Europe: a place of incomparable poetry.
TRATTORIA LA MADONNINA: it’s a little bit like my grandparents’ tales coming to life and having a taste.