Lifestyle > Fashion

New Dress Codes: The It Cities

February 26, 2016 / by Babette Radclyffe

The big-four fashion capitals of Paris, London, New York and Milan continue to
dominate the industry. Every year, they battle to be named the top global fashion metropolis, with Paris taking the coveted title in 2015. However, recent years have seen the rise of numerous other creative cities, particularly in Asia with Tokyo, Seoul and Shanghai. With hundreds of fashion weeks now held worldwide every year, there’s a brand new pack of global hotspots looking to shake up the style status quo.

Lagos is fast becoming a top spot on the map because it’s producing some of the most exciting emerging designers, such as Orange Culture founder Adebayo Oke-Lawal. The brand is a stylish menswear mélange of Nigerian-inspired silhouettes and print fabrics, and has been a finalist for the prestigious LVMH Prize, among other awards. 

Elsewhere on the newest fashion continent, Cape Town is a magnet for rising South African designers, such as Adriaan Kuiters and Jody Paulsen of AKJP, who create unisex collections with bold prints and graphics as well as laid-back luxe pieces.

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Bold, youthful colours and prints are also a signature of one of Mexico’s leading designers, Ricardo Seco, who displayed the vibrancy of his native culture to an international audience at New York Fashion Week in February. There’s also the Mexico City-based designer Carla Fernández, who brings a contemporary touch to her country’s rich heritage of textiles and geometric shapes, and works with artisans all over Mexico to create striking garments. 

In Spain, playful, youthful designs are the calling card of Ágatha Ruiz de la Prada, whose collections not only embrace a kaleidoscope of colour palettes but are also placing Madrid firmly on the fashion map.

The Swedish design aesthetic swept stylishly into fashion in the last few years and no other designer embodies that movement as effortlessly as
Stockholm-headquartered brand Filippa K. Long-lasting simplicity is the key to the label, with high-quality, wearable pieces at the heart of the brand.

Berlin’s style prowess has been on the lips of insiders for the last few years as well. The city has seen a flourishing creative scene emerge with countless brands, magazines and creative studios from all over Europe launching there. Marina Hoermanseder is one of the city’s most cutting-edge designers; corset elements run throughout her collections, with buckles and leather straps set against flowing fabrics. 

Like Berlin, Seoul has become firmly established as a city that’s sparking trends worldwide, especially across Asia. The Korean capital continues to produce cutting-edge designers such as Lie Sangbong, whose collections embody an aesthetic that pairs new minimalism with innovative design details. 

Australian fashion designer Kate Tolo lives and works in Melbourne. She showed her spring/summer 2016 collection at Melbourne Spring Fashion Week; models took to the runways in delicate, structured lilac-hued dresses. Elsewhere, Sydney is the headquarters of womenswear label Sass & Bide – after gaining a cult following, it’s been shown at fashion weeks worldwide and was sported by Sarah Jessica Parker on Sex and the City. Another of Australia’s most successful style exports is designer Dion Lee, who hails from Sydney and shows his sculptural, fluid collections at various fashion weeks; he calls New York his secondary style base. 

India has many centuries of rich textile history, with numerous notable modern designers drawing international acclaim, such as New Delhi-based Manish Arora and Kanika Goyal. The latter’s roots are in refined tailoring, which is clear to see in her contemporary looks. 

The Ukranian capital of Kiev is the birthplace and training grounds of designer Anton Belinskiy, whose avant-garde streetwear-influenced collections have been headlining the city’s top runway event, Mercedes-Benz Kiev Fashion Days. Fellow Kiev designer Anna K first entered the industry at the age of 16; her whimsical, playful creations have gained an international fan base at London Fashion Week, with dozens of stockists worldwide.

Russia is also emerging as a stylish hunting ground for chic couture designers; Moscow-based label Ruban is emblematic of a shift in the Russian fashion arena. A pastel-hued spring/summer 2016 collection took to the runways, with A-line design details and skilful fabric manipulations creating contemporary evening looks. Moscow is also the home of couture designer Ulyana Sergeenko, whose street-style looks are a favourite among fashion bloggers, nearly rivalling the sweeping couture pieces that her collections centre on.

With respected online platforms such as Not Just a Label and Luisa Via Roma stocking these and other emerging international brands, it’s easier than ever to shop the world’s most cutting-edge designers and travel the globe from the comfort of your home.

1. Filippa K
2. Kate Tolo
4. Agatha Ruiz de la Prada
5. Anton Belinskiy
6. Ruban
7. Dion Lee
8. Orange Culture
9. Lie Sangbong

Images: Orange Culture by Lakin Ogunbanwo; Lie Sangbong; Adriaan Kuiters + Jody Paulsen by SDR Photo; Filippa K; Agatha Ruiz de la Prada; Anton Belinskiy; Kate Tolo; Ruban; Dion Lee