Five Emerging Fashion Capitals Worth Knowing

Design Lists Fashion Capitals

When you’re living in New York City, or Paris in my case, enviable style moments can be found in the most unexpected places, off the runway and around every corner. But on the runway, fashion is typically limited to the Big Four—New York, London, Paris and Milan. These perennial fashion capitals are the home base of countless renowned names, from Marc Jacobs and Proenza Schouler to Georgia Armani and Gucci. But true style has no limitations. Whether you’re exploring in the emerging fashion district of Belgrade, the capital city of Serbia, or attending the shows during Tokyo’s newly dubbed Amazon Fashion Week, there’s a world of fashion to discover—and here are five of the emerging fashion capitals that are worth knowing.

1. Tokyo, Japan

2px); width:calc(100% 2px);”>

When you imagine Japan, the first images that pop into mind are probably stunning Shinto shrines, the delicious food and the eclectic street styles. While the days of Harajuku are well in the past, the fashion scene of Japan’s largest city is filled with talented designers who have made a remarkable influence on the global fashion industry, through innovative street-wear and street-ready technical innovations. Like Hiromichi Ochiai’s impeccably cool street-wear label Facetasm, or Issey Miyake’s architectural pleats and technical experiments, Kunihiko Morinaga’s innovative tech-fashion label Anrealage. They’ve all made headlines in major fashion capitals, like London and Paris, but Tokyo is filled with even more designers with the potential to make this energetic city an international here’s a city who knows how to bring it an international fashion platform.

2. Belgrade, Serbia

2px); width:calc(100% 2px);”>

Last season I attended Belgrade Fashion Week in Serbia. During my short time there, I was introduced to a close-knit community of talented designers as well as the passionate fashionistas who are determined to reinvigorate the Serbian fashion scene—and put Belgrade on the map. You might already know Roksanda Ilincic, one of the country’s most famous fashion exports currently taking London by storm, but I’d like to introduce you to the works of Ana Ljubinkovic, Budislava Kekovic and Aleksandra Lalic. These three women caught my attention during my trip, with their unique perspectives, compelling craftsmanship and an all-around excellent attention to fabrication. You may visit this city for its rich fusion of European architecture, but you’ll leave having fallen in love with its people, its food (which is usually always organic), its celebrated club scene and it’s small but fervent fashion community—only visit the Belgrade Design District and you’ll discover why this city more than deserves a mention on this list.

3. Lisbon, Portugal

2px); width:calc(100% 2px);”>

A post shared by ModaLisboa (@lisboafashionweek) on

Lisbon might not be on your list of global fashion capitals, but it’s probably high on your ranking of must-visit destinations in Europe, thanks to its progressive contemporary art scene, and of course the architecture and cuisine. But, with fashion exports including Marques’Almeida, Alexandra Moura and Luis Buchinho, this emerging fashion capital truly has much to offer in the ways of style. Every season the city of Lisbon hosts one of the most highly anticipated fashion weeks in the European fashion industry—ModaLisboa. (It’s simply the most important fashion event in Portugal.) Otherwise known as Lisbon Fashion Week, this high-impact four-day-long celebration of art, fashion and design continues to showcase the best of what Portugal has to offer, as well as the leading (and emerging) tastemakers of European fashion. As far as endless creativity and inspiration are concerned, Lisbon is bar none.

4. Shanghai, China

2px); width:calc(100% 2px);”>

As the world’s most significant emerging economy, China is bound to have a well-deserved spot on this list—and Shanghai certainly warrants a mention. It’s, hands down, the center of the Chinese fashion industry, with Shanghai Fashion Week acting as a sort of gatekeeper between Asia and the designers of Europe and the Americas, as well as the rest of Asia. This city is a huge retail market for designers around the world, because of its mega buying potential; it’s also a committed exporter of several of China’s exceptionally brilliant designers, including Uma Wang, Masha Ma, Angel Chen, Ping He and the haute couturier Guo Pei. At home or abroad, Chinese design continues to push the fashion industry forward with its resourcefulness, keen creativity and understanding of the client base. For designers looking to make it big(ger), China is the place to be; and in China, it’s first and foremost Shanghai.

5. Seoul, South Korea

2px); width:calc(100% 2px);”>

Seoul may be South Korea’s leading fashion capital (and, of course, actual capital), but it’s undoubtedly one of the most progressive fashion cities outside of the Big Four, what with its seemingly endless reserve of internationally celebrated designers, including JUUN.J, D.GNAK by KANG.D and Wooyoungmi, and the best sartorial street style available anywhere in the world. Over the years it’s become a leading fashion hub in Asia, outranking even its neighboring markets in Tokyo and Shanghai—and all because it continues to export a serious amount of talented designers. Now, Seoul Fashion Week has become a seasonal go-to event for the industry’s most elite editors and buyers; even then, if you do happen to miss it, you’re likely to see at least a good dozen Korean designers in any one of the Big Four fashion weeks, particularly on the men’s runway. This is certainly a market worth knowing.

Brent Taalur Ramsey is an American writer living in Paris.

Share Tweet Submit Pin