A fashion capital is a city which has a major influence on international fashion trends and is a key centre for the fashion industry, in which activities including the design, production and retailing of fashion products; fashion events (such as fashion weeks and awards); and fashion-related trade fairs generate significant economic output. Fashion capitals usually have a broad mix of business, financial, entertainment, cultural and leisure activities and are internationally recognised for having a unique and strong identity.
There are currently widely regarded as being four principal fashion capitals in the world, known as the "big four": Milan, New York, Paris and London. An annual ranking of the leading fashion capitals is produced by Global Language Monitor.
Fashion and political power have often interwined in history, and this can be seen in classical history, where the major political powers of the world, such as Alexandria, Athens, and Rome were leaders in their respective eras and parts of the world, when it came to clothing.
In history, several cities have been, in turn, fashion capitals. Furthermore, during the Renaissance era, different city-states in what would become modern-day Italy were Europe's main trendsetters, due to the cultural power that these cities exerted in that period of time; this includes cities such as Florence, Milan, Rome, Naples, Genoa, and Venice. However, as one progressed into the late-16th century, with the influence of the Elizabethan era, the English court or more specifically, London, became a major city in European fashion; similarly, due to the power of Spain at the period, the Spanish court influenced fashion, making it a major centre. In the 17th century, as the Renaissance started to fade away, with the power of the French court under Louis XIV, Paris established itself as Europe's main fashion centre, and would remain the world's undisputed fashion capital until the 1960s and 70s. In the Victorian era, with the powerful British empire, London also became a major fashion centre, although it still looked to Paris for stylistic inspiration. Throughout the 20th century, New York City grew as a fashion capital, and in the 1950s, Florence re-emerged as a leading city in haute couture. Milan's complete dominance of the fashion world lasted until the 1960s. In the 1980s, Milan, with its everyday, practical chic, and minimalistic fashion houses, reinforced its place as the most important fashion capital of the world. Ever since then, New York City, London, Milan, and Paris have been the leading cities in global fashion, making up the "big four".
According to the Global Language Monitor, London claimed the Fashion Capital crown from New York (the 2010 Fashion Capital) in 2011 and repeated in 2012. The ascendance of Kate Middleton and the London Olympics were frequently cited as being instrumental in London's rise. In 2009, Milan claimed the title of top fashion capital for the media. Both Milan and Paris have longstanding traditions of excellence and creativity in design. Milanese fashion is regarded as the most sophisticated and admired, concentrating equally on ready-to-wear clothes as well as haute couture, while Paris' focus lies mostly in "Haute Couture".
Paris is also considered to be one of the four capitals of fashion due to its longstanding history as center of art and fashion, and its being home to several highly prestigious and powerful fashion houses. Paris and Milan are, perhaps, best known for the elegance of their fashion designs, rather than for their practicality. (London-based fashion designs are known for their extravagant quirkiness, while Parisian designs are regarded for their elegant, refined and chic formal nature). However, both cities also have upscale haute couture and high fashion shopping districts.
Other main centers of fashion in the world include: Venice, Los Angeles, Rome, Antwerp, Geneva, Manchester, Florence, Madrid, San Francisco, Monterrey, Barcelona, Mexico City, São Paulo, San Diego, Vancouver, Moscow, Montreal, Monte Carlo  Sydney, Tokyo, Düsseldorf, Toronto, Shanghai, and Dubai. Dubai showed its ambitions to join the fashion capitals of the world by taking on various projects, the latest of which is called Dubai Fashion 2020. In recent years, however, the importance of the fashion industry has grown in many other cities around the globe, such as Buenos Aires, Chicago, Mumbai, Singapore, and Melbourne.
Global Language Monitor rankings
|Rank (2012)||Rank (2011)||Rank (2010)||Rank (2009)||Rank (2008)||Rank (2007)||City||Country||Region|
|01||01||02||05||05||04||London||United Kingdom||Western Europe|
|02||02||01||02||01||01||New York||USA||North America|
|07||25||13||08||NL||21||São Paulo||Brazil||Latin America|
|09||05||05||06||06||07||Los Angeles||USA||North America|
|12||06||02||07||11||08||Hong Kong||Hong Kong||East Asia|
|13||20||24||24||20||22||Buenos Aires||Argentina||Latin America|
|17||23||19||18||30||20||Rio de Janeiro||Brazil||Latin America|
|24||16||16||10||08||09||Las Vegas||United States||North America|
- Fashion week, for a partial list of cities with fashion weeks.
||This article uses bare URLs for citations, which may be threatened by link rot. (January 2013)|
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