• The top 12 fashion capitals of the world have been revealed, based on where the top fashion schools are located, high-profile fashion events on offer and influential street style
  • Amsterdam, Seoul and São Paulo are among the most important emerging fashion cities 
  • Fashion designer, Justine Tabak identifies sustainability, the democratisation of fashion and blurring gender lines as the most important industry trends

London, Paris, Milan and New York may be the ‘big four’ of the fashion world, but with growing investment in the industry beyond these four mighty pillars, other cities are starting to move up the fashion ranks. With expert insights from Justine Tabak, designer and founder of an eponymous sustainable fashion brand, paired with factors such as fashion schools and events, the world’s top fashion cities have been identified.

“Fashion has become ever more a democracy with a proliferation of start-ups and independents vying for attention amongst the classic giants of fashion. With this, new fashion centres emerge and create a multi-faceted global network of fashion brands.”

The top emerging fashion capitals
Traditionally, Europe and North America have dominated the fashion world, but thanks to the democratisation of the industry, fashion is now very much global. The Far East has become a fashion powerhouse in recent years, with cities like Tokyo and Seoul putting themselves firmly on the fashion map. Elsewhere, cities such as Berlin, LA and Melbourne are championing a more laidback take on fashion, while the likes of Lagos and São Paulo bring something more eclectic to the mix.

“Street fashion and subcultures were popularised in Japan during the 80s and swept into mainstream culture alongside the developing obsession with anime, manga and comic book characters,” says Tabak. As for South Korea, “K Pop, K -Beauty and now K-Fashion has exploded in popularity. Aimed at youth culture, fashion trends are fast paced, with a mix of sportswear, vintage and tailored looks all worn together.”

Fashion student? Here are some of the top cities to study in
While many other cities are proving themselves worthy fashion destinations, the ‘big four’ remain supported by the best fashion schools in the world. London is a top choice for thousands of fashion students, with the British capital boasting the world-famous Central Saint Martins college – the old stomping ground of famous grads like Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen.

“London still reigns globally as a hub of creativity, with its street and music culture and the plethora of fashion schools, from the ever-influential Central St Martins to more commercially focused universities like Westminster University and the Royal College of Art,” explains Tabak.

Top fashion school by city:

  •         London – UAL Central Saint Martins
  •         Paris – Institut Français de la Mode
  •         Milan – The Istituto Marangoni
  •         New York – Parsons School of Design
  •         Amsterdam – Hogeschool Van Amsterdam (AMFI Amsterdam Fashion Institute)
  •         Berlin – Berlin University of the Arts
  •         LA – The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising
  •         São Paulo – Istituto Europeo di Design São Paulo
  •         Seoul – ESMOD Seoul
  •         Tokyo – Bunka Fashion College
  •         Melbourne – The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology
  •         Lagos – Lagos Fashion and Art Academy

The most notable fashion events and exhibitions
The traditional fashion calendar revolves around the bi-annual fashion weeks hosted in Paris, London, New York in Milan, but there are hundreds of other fashion weeks held in cities all around the world. São Paulo Fashion Week has grown to become the fifth biggest in the world and is commended for its commitment for encouraging sustainability in fashion.

“São Paulo Fashion Week has garnered a colourful reputation for presenting the best of ethical and inclusive design. The city has grown into a progressive fashion hub, where designers focus their minds on the environment, with many leading the way in recycling and up cycling of materials,” says Tabak.

Key fashion events and exhibitions: 

  •         Paris – Paris Fashion Week; Première Vision; Palais Galleria
  •         London – London Fashion Week; Graduate Fashion Week; Victoria and Albert Museum
  •         Milan – Milan Fashion Week; MICAM; The Palazzo Morando
  •         New York – New York Fashion Week; The Costume Institute; Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT)
  •         Amsterdam – Amsterdam Fashion Week; Modefabriek
  •         Berlin – Berlin Fashion Week; PREMIUM; Bread and Butter
  •         LA – LA Fashion Week; LA Fashion Festival
  •         São Paulo – São Paulo Fashion Week
  •         Seoul – Seoul Fashion Week
  •         Tokyo – Tokyo Fashion Week; Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum
  •         Melbourne – Melbourne Fashion Week; Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival
  •         Lagos – Lagos Fashion Week; Lagos Fashion Fair

After some retail therapy? Check out these shopping hotspots
No fashion capital is complete without a strong shopping scene. While the likes of Paris and Milan are known for their luxury brand offerings, cities such as Amsterdam and Berlin are hot for vintage finds.

“Preloved and circular fashion has been a natural feature of Dutch living for many decades – it’s part of the Dutch psyche for green living. There’s even a museum in Amsterdam called ‘Fashion for Good’, which is dedicated to sustainable innovation and promoting best practice in fashion,” says Tabak.

And with the rising influence of street style, fashion is becoming more laidback. “Dressing down is the new dressing up,” says Tabak. “Whilst tailoring will always be valued, boundaries will continue to be blurred between smart and casual.” The same goes for blurring gender boundaries, with designers “presenting more loose fit androgynous shapes to women whilst men have more traditionally feminine touches on offer.”

Where to shop:

  •         Paris – Forum de Halles (affordable fashion); the Golden Triangle (luxury brands); Montmartre (vintage)
  •         London – Oxford Street (affordable fashion); Bond Street (luxury brands); Brick Lane (vintage)
  •         Milan – Corso Vittorio Emanuele II (affordable); Quadrilatero della Moda (luxury brands); Brera district (vintage)
  •         New York – Soho (affordable fashion); Madison Avenue (luxury brands); Bedford Avenue (vintage)
  •         Amsterdam – Kalverstraat (affordable fashion); P.C. Hooftstraat (luxury brands); De 9 Straatjes (vintage)
  •         Berlin – Alexanderplatz (affordable fashion); Kurfürstendamm (luxury brands); Flohmarkt im Mauerpark (vintage)
  •         LA – The Grove (affordable fashion); Beverley Hills (luxury brands); Melrose Avenue (boutiques)
  •         São Paulo – Morumbi Shopping Centre (affordable fashion); Rua Oscar Freire (luxury brands); Jardins (boutiques)
  •         Seoul – Myeongdong Market (affordable fashion); Apgujeong (luxury brands); Insadong (vintage)
  •         Tokyo – Shibuya (affordable fashion); Ginza (luxury brands); Harajuku (boutiques)
  •         Melbourne – Chadstone (affordable fashion); Collins Street (luxury brands); Sydney Road (vintage)
  •         Lagos – Palms Shopping Centre (affordable and luxury brands); Victoria Island (boutiques); Lekki Market (market stalls)

Read the full guide to future fashion capitals here