When I ask, ‘what is the fashion capital of the world?’ what springs to mind – London? Paris? Milan? New York, perhaps? For decades, these same four cities have been jostling tirelessly to be the answer to said question. And considering some of the world biggest fashion labels originated from one of these four cities; Versace (Milan), Chanel (Paris) Burberry (London) and Calvin Klein (New York), they’ve had every right to do so. However, change is afoot. Across the world, as we speak, new cities are rising to challenge the domination of the ‘Big Four’ and to stake their own claim to the fashion capital of the world. From Barcelona to LA, Tokyo to Sao Paulo, the world of fashion is about to enter a new dawn.
Just this year, for the first time ever Barcelona pipped Milan to (accordingly to Global Language Monitor) the third spot for fashion capitals in the world. Allowing Barna to officially announce itself as the new fashion mecca of the Mediterranean (and maybe the world next year!). Flamboyant and quirky, Catalan identity manages to interweave itself explosively into every facet of its fashion industry. After all, not a single model walks down a Barcelonan catwalk without being drenched, head-to-toe in an abundance of colour and charisma. Don’t believe me? Check out the designs of; Ailanto, Natalie Capell and Zazo & Brull. Warning: be prepared to have your breath taken.
Despite being home to all things glitz, glamour and of course Hollywood, surprisingly, in the fashion stakes, LA has always lived in the shadows of its East Coast cousin, New York. Well, that is until now. Decades of incubating some of America’s most promising labels; Armature, Bree Layne and Apolis (to name just a few!), has finally paid a dividend and helped establish LA as a force to be reckoned with. No more finishing silver for this The Golden State. In contrary to New York’s prim and proper approach to style, LA’s edgier fashion scene will be a welcomed counter-point.
Renowned for some of the most eye-catching and unusual designs in the world, when it comes to eccentricity, very few do it better and more bizarre than Tokyo. Responsible for nurturing the talents of Issey Miyake, Junya Watanabe and Yohji Yamamoto, this city has had a rich history of inspiring some of fashion’s greatest visionaries. In Tokyo, fashion isn’t about peacocking wealth or labels, it’s about complete and utter creative freedom, and breaking away from the shackles of the ordinary. After all, gender-neutral dressing, crop tops and mini backpacks were all birthed on the streets of Tokyo.
Characterised by being colourful, energetic and diverse, it should be no surprise that Brazil is home to an emerging fashion capital, Sao Paulo. However, with a government constantly wrought with instability, Brazilian designers have for decades been seeking ways to creatively channel ethics and political issues into their work. As a result of this, native designers like Carlos Mile, Francisco Costa, Ricardo Almeida and Gloria Coelho, are some of the most thought-provoking and conscious designers in the world right now. And it should be no surprise that the country with a love affair with big butts, has become a specialist in sultry swim and beachwear. Oh, did I forget to mention that at least 5-in-10 of the best models in the world are Brazilian? Gisele Bundchen, anyone? Adriana Lima?
Already Africa’s economic and entertainment juggernaut, it just seemed inevitable that Nigeria would capture the fashion title as well. Already the cultural hub of an entire continent and propelled by a rich artistic history, no doubt Lagos will soon be offering up the biggest fashion labels to not only Africa but the world.