ReturnSpectrum Store Celebrates 12 Years in the Graffiti Game
The Milan based premium reseller serves the local graffiti and streetwear crowd seven days a week
There’s one essential stop for fans of graffiti and street culture in Milan, which happens to be planning for its 12-year anniversary when MTN News drops by. Located on the fringe of the bohemian Porta Venezia neighborhood, Spectrum Store is a prime example of how a local, specialized business can evolve along with the tastes and interests of the community it serves.
Store manager Fabio is sweeping the autumn leaves off the pavement just after the Spectrum has opened its doors. The shop is immaculate, outside and in. Montana Colors Hardcore, 94 and Water Based Paint is well stocked behind the counter, and an array of markers and pens are neatly displayed in the glass counter. Around the store are racks of brands representing the favorite clobber of contemporary writers: from outdoor protection by Arc’Teryx, The North Face and Patagonia to hip-hop classics from Nike, Kangol and Stüssy.
After we are introduced to the three other members of staff on shift, we get the chance to talk to Fabio before the Saturday morning shoppers flood in to pick up their art and streetwear supplies.
“Spectrum started as a graffiti shop in 2009,” he explains. “Only spray cans, some markers. Some of our own products - we are actually behind the Grog ink brand too.” Their selection of pens is still one of the USPs at Spectrum, with everything from Japanese calligraphy tools to street markers by Grog, Krink and MTN.
Milan stands out as a graffiti capital, with the late 1990’s a particularly productive period. Fabio explains that “from 1998 to 2015/6, people painted a lot of subways, until the vandal squad came and almost everything finished. But bombing is the soul of Milan.” However, if underground exploration isn’t on your itinerary, the city is particularly well organized for writers who want to take their time and do more elaborate pieces. The Milan City Hall has over 100 walls mapped out on their website, spread out all over the city.
The Spectrum Store is perfectly located as a starting point to discover the lively area of Porta Venezia. From classic pizzerias to food from all corners of the planet, the area which is just a short walk from Milan Central Station effuses a friendly warmth, especially in the evening when it really comes to life. “It’s a neighborhood which has really grown in the last five or six years,” explains Fabio.
These days Fabio sees the clear links between the graffiti writing community and the streetwear fiends in Milan. “Writers use brands like Carhartt and The North Face. In fact for me, there are similarities between the colorways of the shoes and graffiti. Sometimes we get our ideas from the sneakers!” Footwear has been a key part of graffiti culture from its inception, and Spectrum takes the market seriously, as we can see in the select creps from Nike, New Balance and Asics on display.
Their impeccable selection of garments have attracted some of the city’s more well-known faces, from Italian rap artists like Salmo to actors and even Internazionale and AC Milan football players. We wondered if the Spectrum staff had any preference when it came to matches between I Rossoneri and I Nerazzurri? “We’re split 50/50,” Fabio says. “We argue during the games, but we’re always friends after.”
Fabio has been at Spectrum Store for more than a decade but he still loves the place. “There are a lot of satisfying moments working at the shop. When you see people who appreciate what you do. It happens almost every day,” he says. The anniversaries are especially memorable. “Every year we do a party to celebrate, some book releases too. We have a lot of writers coming from all over Italy.”
The key to the success of Spectrum Store is innovation and evolution, and the team is constantly adapting their selection of goods to new trends in art and streetwear. So what about plans for the future? Fabio says: “We have a big project coming in early 2022, a great reason to keep all eyes on Spectrum.”
The COVID-19 restrictions in Italy are still quite strict, so there won’t be a big party this year, but you can be sure that Fabio and the rest of the staff will enjoy a Negroni or two on the night of 12th December, when the Spectrum Store celebrates 12 years in the game.
ShareDecember 09, 2021