Forza Italia: A melting pot of Italian culture

Katie Johnson

From humble beginnings as a small store in Perth, Forza Italia has blossomed into an iconic Lygon St institution and Australia’s largest Italian megastore.

Since 2009, Forza has been offering everything from official sporting merchandise, novelty items from various Italian regions, clothing designed in-house and a wide range of souvenirs.

Founder Joseph Gerace said that as a third-generation Italian he was inspired to start the store to “keep up tradition”.

“There were always little stores that sold Italian souvenirs but nothing that consolidated every aspect of Italian culture,” Mr Gerace said.

“In Australia we’ve got just over a million Italo-Australians and Lygon St is earmarked as Little Italy so it was the perfect spot for the store that runs alongside our online presence.”

Gerace and his staff take great pride in hand-picking more than 5000 products, including merchandise from big brands like Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, and Puma – including hard-to-get limited-edition sporting jerseys which are usually only available overseas.

Forza also designs and manufactures its own clothing in-house, using quality materials imported from Italy.

Mr Gerace said that by manufacturing on site, Forza was able to ensure that all of the products were of the high quality that their customers have come to expect.

“Our team designs and custom prints everything on an order basis – everything from men’s and women’s clothing to babies garments,” Mr Gerace said.

Forza’s internally developed Merch Group division specialises in print-on-demand and e-commerce and boasts clients such as comedy sensation Sooshi Mango.

They have also recently gained exclusive rights in Victoria for Italian sportswear brand Macron, which is now the technical sponsor of Melbourne Victory.

With a huge online presence, the Lygon St store mainly acts as a showroom so customers can become familiar with the products.

The website has more than 30,000 members, who receive loyalty points as well as news about new product ranges, updates about Italy, and events across Melbourne.

“We have our retail store which is loved by tourists in Lygon St, including interstate visitors who had come with their family for school holidays,” Mr Gerace said.


With COVID we aren’t getting those in-store visitors, but we have a huge online presence which serves lots of our long-time customers who know we sell quality products.


In terms of favourite items, Mr Gerace said he couldn’t go past the official licensed products from the iconic Italian brands.

“It’s exciting to see the innovative printing techniques and quality design and manufacturing of brands like Alfa Romeo and Puma Italy,” My Gerace said.

Although Mr Gerace said that Lygon St and Carlton had changed over the years, it was important to evolve and innovate with the times.

“You need to be innovative and you can’t be stuck in one mindset – you have to be clear on who are customers are and what they want,” Mr Gerace said.

“We’ve evolved over the years but our slogan has always been tradition, passion and pride and we stay true to that.”

Forza Italia is open Monday to Saturday at 265 Lygon St •

Like us on Facebook