Venetian Fashion has always been something separate from Italian fashion, generally speaking. Once again, Venice decided to carve a slightly different path from its neighbors. This is unsurprising when you consider that it was a completely separate entity until recent decades (as were other regions in Italy). It had its own rules and culture, therefore it also its own trends.
It’s often said that fashion was led by the Aristocracy and the Courtesans, an idea that speaks volumes in itself. However, there a few things that are worthy of considering as we enter into the discussion of Venetian fashion. First, the considerable distances covered on foot, which makes it an unfriendly city for high heels. Secondly, the Bora Winds, which are relentlessly cold, and each time take you by surprise. Finally, the undeniable necessity to occasionally be unrecognizable in Venice.
Our 2 Chosen Fashion Items:
In this article, we won’t cover every clothing item that the city is known for, but just two of my personal favorites. These specific two are also arguably two of the most famous fashion pieces nowadays. Furlane (Venetian slippers) and the Tabarro / Mantello (the Venetian cloak).
The Venetian slippers have more recently become known worldwide but were originally found in the countryside. Designed in velvet made with a rubber bottom from reused bicycle tiers, they quickly became adopted by Gondoliers for two reasons. First, comfort of course! Second, the rubber soles don’t leave marks on the boat. Nowadays, some tourists unwittingly refer to these shoes as “Gondolier Slippers,” although that was never their origin.
Modern Furlane styles can be found in many different materials and designs, making it nearly essential to have more than one pair.
The Tabarro / Cloak:
This was originally noted in the Medieval ages, as a slight descendent of the Roman Toga. It was then abandoned for a period until the Renaissance when it was the particular favorite of many Bourgose or Aristocracy. However, it once again disappeared for the public eye until the ‘Dandy’s’ of the 18th Century reinvented the cloak’s popularity.
It was and still is particularly popular for traveling, as it was very effective at keeping out the cold and can be draped over everything. It’s always maintained a strong connection with this city, especially in connection with Venice’s mysterious personality. One can imagine the elegance of a cloak sweeping around the the small dark corners, not wanting to be followed.
As we move into the winter months, with winds whipping around the calles and Acqua Alta rising, one might ask how can Venice maintain a level of elegance? As a city, it’s not renowned for its shopping like other Italian cities – and for good reason. Fashion shops in Venice have found the balance between traditional techniques and modern style. With this in mind, they’re more into a local aesthetic than the global brands. There are a few shops that are well worth visiting, especially when searching for these particular garments. See suggestions below!
For il Tabarro and hand crafted hats
SAN POLO 2235, CALLE SCALETER 30125 VENICE
DORSODURO 3235, CAMPIELLO SQUELINI 30123 VENICE
Drawing Massimo and his father Gianni.