Thrift store haven no more: MAS in Esquilino Rome

Disappointed is the only way we can start this post. Magazzini Allo Statuto commonly known as MAS in the Roman suburb of Esquilino has always been the secret thrift haven that our Creative Director has been keeping to himself all these years, but it was rumoured to be shutting down, then saved from closure and then just last year, finally shut.

The local Romans tried so hard to save the aging department store, that even a short doco was made about it. Rä Di Martino’s 30-minute documentary “The Show MAS Go On” is the result. In 2013 it was announced that MAS would be shutting for good which was what prompted Di Martino to create this documentary about the store. And guess who also saw the value of the store and the documentary and came along to fund the project? None other than that Italian behemoth of a brand, Gucci. It premiered at the 2014 Venice Film Festival.

But back to the store itself, these images are possibly some of the the last of the store’s final days in trading, during October 2016 when our Creative Director, as usual visited Rome and stayed in Esquilino.

MAS Rome Building Facade

You can still tell, there were creative attempts to do up their windows. Yes, it’s basic but nevertheless very charming, if you know its recent chapter as a thrift store emporium and less the premium department store it started out as.

MAS Window Display visual merchandising

Rome MAS Esquilino window close up

MAS store exit Rome Esquilino

It was still getting the odd shopper, and our Creative Director of course, rummaging through rails of new clothing, many made in Italy, of defunct brands. Not all the clothing were stylish, but to the trained stylist, the potential was lurking. Especially when there were items priced from 1 Euro. Clearly, you have to know where and what is your treasure from the trash.

Clothing rails MAS Rome Esquilino shopping

Bargain bins at MAS Rome Esquilino

Talking about finding treasure, our Creative Director found this oversized blazer, brand new, probably excess stock since the late 80s and in perfect condition. 5 Euros. You think that was impressive? Check out this vintage Valentino Jeans, authentic, brand new with tag still on and made in Italy, also 5 Euros.

And then in November 2017, another visit revealed the store is completely shut. Boarded up with no stock or sign of human activity inside, in complete darkness. Our Creative Director even donned the vintage blazer (seen in the street style OOTD shots below, just a corner away from the main entrance of MAS) on that visit to the store, hoping to repeat the same success with finding another vintage gem, but sadly, no such luck.

OOTD in Esquilino Rome wearing vintage blazer and Prada waist pouch

OOTD in Esquilino Rome wearing vintage blazer and Prada waist pouch

The doors were firmly shut, no sign of the usual passers-by outside.

OOTD in Esquilino Rome wearing vintage blazer and Prada waist pouch

Even the shop windows are shut and locked up below. There’s a distinct lack of foot traffic around the building, you really start to notice how run down the frontage once belonging to the store is. Almost to the point of being derelict.

OOTD outside MAS Esquilino Rome wearing vintage blazer and Prada waist pouch

There’s no indication what’s going to happen to the space previously occupied by MAS, there are so many floors above yet to be utilised. Our guess is some developer will come in and turn it into apartments or even a hotel. When that happens, as least we can say, we knew what was there before, it was loved and treasured.

Well, before we get all teary, let’s visit the store in all its glory, on video via the documentary The Show MAS Go On. You’ll so be missed. Arrivederci MAS per sempre.

MAS Facade Rome Esquilino

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