The world holds 195 countries, each with its own sense of diversity and culture. Every major international fashion capital on this globe immensely influences fashion trends. Some continents host more than one fashion capital, but generally, one stands out on each. While every fashion capital has something that emerging designers can benefit from studying, Milan is considered the fashion capital of the world and can provide up-and-coming fashion designers with more information than any other city. This includes insights into fashion trends, annual fashion events, and the historical presence of well-known designers.
What Makes a Fashion Capital Relevant to Up-and-Coming Designers
Before diving into the details of the world’s major fashion capitals let’s break down what makes a fashion capital worth studying and observing in the first place. Each capital worthy of note has its own:
Creative Climate and Fashion Companies - The creative climate is based on the people who reside in the country, especially any well-known designers. The fashion companies and brands that have a presence in that city also have a significant role in setting the tone of the creative climate.
Major Fashion Events and Schools - Various famous fashion schools as well as fashion shows play a role in determining the influence of major style hubs.
Fashionable Locals - Every country perceives fashion differently. Clothing in some places is more functional and less about artistic statements. Observing how the locals dress usually can give an idea of how fashion-minded their community is.
Fashion Tourism Presence - If people visit a city solely for the shopping scene or to attend fashion events, it has a fashion tourism presence.
Milan hits the mark in each of these areas, and for this reason, qualifies as one of the top hubs of the world. Studying and observing fashion trends in Milan as well as other fashion capitals can potentially help you improve your fashion business with:
Inspired fashion designs
A more diverse product base
A more international perspective on fashion trends
Enhanced fashion business knowledge
Milan: The Fashion Capital of the World
While Europe has multiple fashion capitals to consider, like Paris or London, Milan has the most history. Milan became known for luxury fashion goods as early as the 16th century and became “trend-setting” during the 18th and 19th centuries. One big aspect of fashion in Milan’s history is its inclusion in many of the fashion magazines that originated there.
However, beyond that, it stands out from all other industry hotspots for its ability to meet the criteria of a fashion capital in a number of ways:
Milan’s Creative Climate and Fashion Companies - Milan has also brought the world some of the most designers including Giorgio Armani and Gianni Versace. The origins of many iconic fashion companies like Dolce & Gabbana and Prada can be found in Milan and the two major shopping areas, the Piazza del Duomo and the Quadrilatero della Moda showcase a variety of famous fashion brands.
Milan’s Major Fashion Events and Schools - Like New York City in America, Milan also hosts one of the biggest fashion weeks in the world. During Milan Fashion Week various fashion shows and events are available to attendees. Additionally, Milan is home to many fashion schools including Istituto Marangoni and Koefia, both of which are world-renowned institutions.
Fashionable Milanese Locals - Locals in Milan are known for showcasing formal and glamorous fashion apparel that encompasses a variety of different product types including dresses, jewelry, and sunglasses. This aligns with Milan’s history in luxury apparel and accessories products throughout the centuries.
Milan’s Fashion Tourism Industry - In addition to fashion magazines, events, and various company headquarters, Milan’s two major shopping districts are respected worldwide and present another showcase of Milan’s strength in the worlds of fashion and style.
A Global Panel of Fashion Design Inspiration
Milan is an all-encompassing fashion capital and should be studied and observed by all designers, but it is still important to be aware of other cities with a fashion influence. As mentioned earlier, studying and observing the fashion capitals of the world can help designers find inspiration and insights when working. The following are some capitals outside of Milan to consider using as sources for inspiration and information:
North America: New York City - Some of the most famous fashion designers and brands have ties to New York. New York is also home to many top fashion schools and hosts the world-famous New York Fashion Week. Popular apparel in New York City includes stylish flat shoes, handbags, layered outfits, and simple but elegant black dresses.
South America: Medellin - Colombia’s second-largest city, Medellin has rapidly grown its fashion industry presence. The city also has one of the biggest textile industries in the world. Some fashion items that are huge in Medellin include fitted jeans and sneakers, with an emphasis on neat and organized outfits.
Asia: Shanghai - Even though cities like Tokyo and Hong Kong are well known for their fashion influence, Shanghai is one of the most fashionable countries in the world. Since Shanghai is populous, it makes sense that its fashion scene is diverse and grand. Some apparel that shines here are pantsuits, daytime pajamas, oversized blazers, and products made from silk.
Africa: Dakar - Dakar is the capital of Senegal and primarily known for hosting Dakar Fashion Week. This event is a grand showcase of all things African fashion. In Dakar, the clothing that people like to wear showcases various patterns and colors. There is a lot of creativity at play in the scene here, making it a fashion capital worth following.
Australia: Melbourne - Melbourne is one of Australia’s most popular destinations for tourists around the world. Its Chadstone suburb hosts a variety of brands for avid fashion shoppers, including many luxury brands. Because of how accessible fashion clothing is in Melbourne, it is usually deemed the fashion capital of Australia, even over Sydney.
Despite the growth of these other fashion hubs and their influence on the industry, one thing that is very likely to stay consistent is the influence of Milan as the top fashion capital powerhouse. The primary thing that designers gain from observing Milan, in particular, is inspiration for the most up-to-date fashion trends in the city. Ultimately though, regardless of the city, emerging designers will benefit greatly from being aware of what is going on beyond just their local fashion environment.
It is easy to get closed into the bubble of wherever you base your business, but for fashion businesses, being mindful of global trends in fashion capitals allows for more inspired designs in your product base and more growth in your portfolio and ability as a designer.
Yash Bansal is a marketing professional with a passion for writing content. He grew up near Houston, Texas. In his free time, he enjoys watching movies and managing his blog, Yash Bansal Reviews, and hosting his podcast, Cinema Convos.