Archivio Brustio-La Rinascente - Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi
The Brustio-La Rinascente Archive gathers together the documents belonging to the Brustio family from 1917 to 1971: the archive was given this name because the majority of the documents refer to the department store, where the Brustio’s held important roles, from managing director to chairman.
The archive was lent to the Institute of Economic History (ISE) of Luigi Bocconi University by Cesare Brustio so it could be made available to academics; declared to be of significant historical interest on 16 June 1997, it was eventually donated to Bocconi University in November 2015 and is currently kept in the Bocconi Library and Archives which has seen to its reconditioning.
The historic ties between the university and la Rinascente date back to the start of last century.
In 1865 Ferdinando and Luigi Bocconi opened a boutique in via Santa Radegonda in Milan, Magazzini Fratelli Bocconi, the first Italian emporium of tailored clothes. The business was a great success and led to the opening of new stores in other cities and its transfer to Piazza del Duomo. In 1877 the brothers rented the Hotel Confortable, which, renamed “Aux Villes d’Italie” (and later “Alle città d’Italia”), became the first site of an Italian department store. In honour of his eldest son Luigi Jr., who died during the African War of 1896, Ferdinando (now running the business on his own after his brother’s retirement) founded Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi in 1902, the first institution dedicated to business training in Italy. The department stores were then bought up by a group of industrialists and business owners, almost all of whom from Lombardy and Piedmont, thanks also to the decisive tender of Banca Italiana di Sconto. On 27 September 1917 the Società Anonima La Rinascente was founded and its name was suggested by Gabriele D’Annunzio. The initiative was headed by Senatore Borletti, a Milanese industrialist who, to keep the business moving forwards, quickly involved his close friend and brother-in-law Umberto Brustio, who would soon be made managing director. And so begins the story of the family that oversaw the growth of the great department store, leading it to the height of its success.
The Brustio-La Rinascente Archive is made up of a catalogue of documents and a collection of photographs, a large selection of which are presented here. The documents include various letters of correspondence, publications and company minutes with financial statements, reports and summaries of business trips, and newspaper articles.
There are also photo albums that bear witness to the most significant events in the history of la Rinascente, such as the exhibition dedicated to Japan held in the Piazza Duomo site in 1956 and the 1948 business trip to the US; images that accompany notes, drawings and descriptions of the major department stores visited in numerous cities. In addition, there are photos of meetings, openings and official events of different types; these include photos of the flag inspired by the American flag, created in the 1950s to celebrate the number of branches opened.