While there are many up-and-coming cities in the entire globe where creativity, style design, production, and the most revered names in the industry shine, nothing can deny the important role that Paris, London, New York, and Milan hold in the fashion world. Renowned as the four major fashion capitals, these popular cities boast huge influence and serve as great inspiration for fashion connoisseurs and enthusiasts.
Home to buzzing streets, trade fairs, big shops, award ceremonies, prominent magazines, exciting fashion weeks, and rich and fascinating history, it’s also no surprise how these cities emerged to be on their status today. Now, dress up, take your virtual passport, and let’s discover more about the four major fashion capitals of the world.
Incontestably hailed as the world’s fashion capital since the 16th century, Paris is the prime city of fashion and luxury. It has birthed some of the best designers in the realm of haute couture namely Dior, Vuitton, Balenciaga, Chanel, Hermès, Yves Saint Laurent, Lanvin, Givenchy, Lacoste, Louboutin, Chloe, Céline, and Jean-Paul Gaultier.
Apart from its renowned landmarks, beautiful museums, and palatable cuisine, you can also find world-class fashion boutiques, top-notch fashion schools, gorgeous catwalks, illustrious exhibitions, and stellar fashion shows. Among them is Paris Fashion Week, the most celebrated fashion event in the world held biannually in Paris that attracts all the fashion royalties across the globe.
Paris’ status as the world’s fashion leader started in King Louis XIV’s court where French royals and aristocrats heralded the fashion revolution in the city. Paris became the frontrunner in the fashion industry and had long been revered for its fashion sense. Though London and New York had made significant leaps when Paris became under German occupation in World War II, Paris regained its lead immediately when designers returned to the city after the war.
Today, Paris remains the globe’s number-one fashion destination, backed up by its long history, tradition, ingenious designers, as well as business acumen. With that, it’s little wonder why visiting and exploring the City of Light is a dream for every celebrity, influencer, and aficionado.
2. New York
America saw the quick rise of ready-to-wear garments in the 19th century. From there, New York, the world’s financial capital, made an impression in the fashion industry and has never looked back since then. In the 40s and 50s specifically, the Big Apple started to go head-to-head with Paris by integrating sports attire into the high fashion industry.
You might be surprised but it is also New York that was first to hold a Fashion Week. This grand fashion event was first held in 1943, making it the very first of its kind. Held in February and September annually, New York’s Fashion Week attracts the biggest names and the most stylish fashion elites in the industry. Plus, it also holds over 75 major fashion market weeks and trade shows across the year, using over 5,000 fashion showrooms, the most any city has in the world.
New York is also never short of innovative designers. Some of the most famous designers the city has birthed or have ties with the city include Marc Jacobs, Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan, Vera Wang, Calvin Klein, Tom Ford, Betsey Johnson, Jason Wu, Anna Sui, Isaac Mizrahi, Carolina Herrera, Geoffrey Beene, Kenneth Cole, and Tory Bruch.
Synonymous with a high-end lifestyle, and always being young and trend-forward, the Big Apple New York is shining brighter than ever and will continue to do so being one of the best fashion capitals of the world.
London’s prominence and influence as a fashion capital are rooted in long, unique tradition and history, dating back to the Elizabethan era. It was then embraced and redefined by different fashion schools, giving birth to distinct sartorial designs that have transcended time. Today, it’s not unusual to see Elizabethan-inspired concepts and styles on the runways of London.
What’s great is that London has evolved massively since the 16th century. A solid proof is its fierce and independent Punk subculture, which dawned the 70s and 80s with its iconic, rebellious attires. Moreover, the city is also known to be a multicultural hotbed and combines different fashion influences from across the world, cementing its international reputation for being imaginative and setting the latest trends.
Like Paris, London is also home to many renowned designer labels, such as Temperley, Stella McCartney, Burberry, Vivienne Westwood, Sir Paul Smith, Hussein Chalayan, Alexander McQueen, Kim Jones, Lulu Guinness, John Galliano, Mary Quant, and Christopher Kane. Each year, the city holds the London Fashion Week. Another grand fashion event where designers, stylists, magazines, buyers, and fashion aficionados congregate.
Apart from its strong fashion background, London is also among the best cosmopolitan cities in the world, brimming with museums, beautiful landmarks, restaurants, shops, boutiques, fashion schools, and other Instagram-worthy spots on every corner. As such, London remains one of the top destinations for fashion lovers from all cultures and all walks of life.
Completing this list is Milan, a style powerhouse whose history dates back as far as the Middle Ages when it produced high-end chic goods, such as dresses, robes, shoes, and jewelry.
In the 19th century, it started capturing the interest of the luxurious-style crowd, banking on its top-quality fabrics, exceptional artisanal workmanship, and elegant novelty designs. A true leader in fashion, among the top designer brands that the city has include Versace, Prada, Gucci, Roberto Cavalli, Gimmo Etro, Armani, and Dolce & Gabbana.
Meanwhile, Milan is also renowned for its Milan houses, or some of the world’s splendid luxury boutiques that offer first-rate garments and accessories made by top Italian designers. In addition, Milan also leads in the prêt-à-porter (ready-to-wear dress) category and is home to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the world’s oldest active shopping gallery, making it a haven for fashion shoppers around the world.
Of course, the city also holds its own Fashion Week, particularly in February and March (Spring-Summer Collection) and September-October (Fall-Winter Collection) to exhibit some of its designers’ most instigating and enchanting creations.
Paris, New York, London, and Milan – the Big Four Fashion Capitals of the World – all have a major influence on the world of global fashion, setting the latest and most innovative trends in design, production, and retailing, as well as conducting the grandest and most lauded fashion weeks. These cities will undoubtedly give you a once-in-a-lifetime fashion experience, stemming from each city’s unique history, culture, tradition, and personality. So, wherever you decide to go, celebrate their distinctiveness and discover how they make the fashion world more exciting.