Fashion trends seem to change with the wind, yet the cities we look to for style inspiration — places like Paris, Milan and New York City — have managed to remain the same. It’s ironic, really, how an industry that’s so of-the-moment can still be stuck in its ways. If we really want to keep the contents of our closets ultra chic, it’s time to consider other forward-thinking destinations that are making their way onto the style map. As forces from technology to globalization continue to shape our lives, these 5 destinations are poised to become the new fashion capitals of the world.
Sustainability is more than a trend; it’s the new status quo for how we live. When it comes to apparel that supports our planet, Stockholm, Sweden, is leading the way. The city that brought us H&M and IKEA has proven its chops for stylish yet approachable forms. Now, it’s adding green to the mix, pioneering everything from clothing that captures CO2 emissions to textiles made from 100% recycled fabric waste. In addition to hosting famed eco-labels like House of Dagmar, Remake Sthlm and Jennifer Blom, Stockholm is also home to the Sustainable Fashion Academy, which equips global brands with the knowledge and tools to prioritize sustainability alongside economic growth. Between that and hiring longtime sus-advocate Catarina Midby to lead the Swedish Fashion Association, Stockholm is serving up not only style inspiration but also sustainability savvy.
Despite all its sunshine, the Los Angeles fashion scene is starting to cast a shadow over its East Coast counterpart in both creativity and relevance. Its laid-back beach vibe appeals to Gen Zers, who are rejecting the glamorization of New York City’s infamous “work hard, play hard” lifestyle. As the global center of film and television for more than a century, the City of Angels is a natural draw for creatives of all kinds, who shape the aesthetic playing dress-up in costume castoffs. The massive amount of gently used studio garments available here makes it one of the best secondhand shopping destinations in the world. Even as red carpet looks move from the silver screen to our phone screens, Los Angeles benefits from social media’s ability to inform trends, which has officially eclipsed New York City’s editorial-driven influence.
International brands are eager to snag a piece of the large, lucrative pie that is the Chinese market, and a showcase at Shanghai Fashion Week is where companies can get an edge over the competition. What started as an event to lure eminent American and European labels to the East has spawned its own class of established Shanghai lines, like effortlessly elegant designer Ming Ma and ultra femme womenswear label Shushu/Tong. And while Shanghai has historically drawn tourists to its black market of knockoffs, the government is taking steps to crack down on fakes. Recently, a court awarded a major damages payout to New Balance by a party selling its label without permission, setting a precedent that will surely scare off faux hawkers and appeal to fashion houses.
When The New York Times named Mexico City its top tourist destination back in 2016, foreigners flocked here for the food, art and rich culture. In the years since, this vibrant metro has seduced young people from across the globe, who bring with them an influx of new ideas inspired by Mexico’s rich heritage. Ironically, it’s the destination’s ability to deftly draw on tradition that yields such fresh-feeling looks. The cast of characters at the forefront of the style scene is as colorful as the buildings and street murals, like fashion-forward drag queen Carmen Monoxide or Parisian transplants Aude Jan and Charles Gout of Audette, whose handbag line is inspired by Mexico City’s vibrancy.
In the not-too-distant future, tastemakers may get the scoop on the latest looks not by watching models strut the runway but instead watching their own avatars walk a virtual one. Metaverse Fashion Week debuted this spring, after the pandemic demonstrated a need for online gatherings in lieu of in-person ones. In a place known as Decentraland, attendees sampled brands like DressX, Rarible and the Fabricant by paying to have themselves Photoshopped into their imaginative outfits. Designers can also showcase their work via filters overlaid onto videos or sell certain pieces as NFTs. All of this is made possible using exclusive technology that converts 2D images into 3D experiences. Throughout the week, attendees “try on” clothing virtually then have the threads shipped to them to add to their real wardrobes. While it’s hard to imagine a fashion world based solely online, we’re sure to see the influence of these digital destinations grow as we usher in a new era of couture.