Fashion Month is upon us and whilst the spotlight will be focusing on New York, London, Milan and Paris, there are plenty of other overlooked fashion capitals which we are dying to visit.
From all that exists outside of the initial sphere, we find diverse styles across Asia’s biggest cities, lesser known European cities and up and coming antipodean hot spots. Here’s a few of the finest which we’ll be taking our style cues from this season…
Tokyo is a wonderfully futuristic city and the capital of Japanese culture as we know it. From the traditional geisha’s to the infamous Harajuku street style immortalised in Shoichi Aoki’s magazine FRUiTS, Tokyo is something of an unsung hero of the fashion world. Taking influence from British punk, anime cartoons, colonial heritage and oriental traditional dress, Tokyo presents a style-verse so versatile and eclectic that even their sub-cultures are divided into unique and colourful subcultures.
Rei Kawakubo, Issey Miyake and Yohji Yamamoto of the Commes Des Garcon are fortunate enough to name themselves as some of Japan’s finest designers and have become the cornerstones of contemporary Japanese fashion; each with their own unique signature look that can be spotted everywhere from your local karaoke bar in Shibuya, sushi stand at Ginza or on the catwalk itself. That being said, European fashion has much prevalence in Tokyo with wealthy teenagers sporting goods of the quirkier brands such as Versace, Moschino, Chloe and Chanel.
Italian brand Miu Miu even opened their flagship store in Tokyo with by collaborating with fashion due Tokyo Dandy; an influential web magazine launched two of Japan’s coolest club kids’ Dan Bailey and Joe Kazuaki, who wanted to bring focus to the underground Tokyo clubscene. Designer such as Hedi Slimane have found loyal fans in Tokyo’s androgynous fashion scene with eccentric stylings being perfectly fitting for the cities’ neon bustling backdrop.
Up and coming on the list of most stylish cities in Europe is Portugal’s capital of Lisbon. Brought to the surface by the digital world (You’ve LookBook and Instagram to thank for previewing Lisbon’s most fashion-savvy and their eclectic wardrobes), you’ll find that the look-du-jour is well crafted basics with grungy and quirky vintage trimmings; a sensibility of style that many have attributed to Lisbon’s residents being thrifty in the recent economic crisis of mass unemployment and fiscal woes. Art Student Rui Palma told the New York Times last year: ‘You can buy cool stuff, original stuff, for not that much money. In Lisbon, you can dress well without spending so much’.
Emerging from the disaster is of course a burgeoning fashion scene that begs to be noticed. Boutique hotels and flophouses turned nightclubs have popped up to reinvent the city as a cosmopolitan capital; reclaiming hot-spots for Lisbon’s young and trendy who have been snapped across the web, shedding light on Lisbon’s serious cool credentials. Feira da Ladra flea market is a great place to pick up vintage, pre-loved finds whilst H&M’s sister brand COS and its’ flagship store sit comfortably in the city centre offering timeless tailored pieces to cultivate your own native look which rivals London for creativity.
Berlin is the home to Europe’s artistic youth underground and has been rapidly developing as one of Europe’s coolest cities over the last 20 years. Home to more than 800 budding designers and artists, Berlin’s partially decayed yet beautiful urban landscape, buildings and street art which resulted from both the Second and Cold Wars have been replicated the world over; in fact the archetypal ‘Berlin squat’ had its’ moment as recently as 2010 – yet there’s nothing quite like the original. From the graffiti’d streets to the clashing cultures that flocked as the Berlin wall fell, Berlin’s artistic spirit comes from its’ surroundings and often overlooked brand heritage.
Hugo Boss is mostly abandoned in favour of sports’ brand Adidas, Jil Sander and Escada among Berlin’s trend-setters with an almost retro rave -like nostalgia for clothing permeating the club scene. Dark, minimalist and tailored is the status quo in Berlin, but much like the cities’ post-war Brutalist architecture, it is peppered with bright flashes of colour and print. Edgy, avant-garde and socially concious are terms which instantly spring to mind when you picture Berlin’s youth market. There’s something wonderfully post-punk and utilitarian about Berlin’s ‘look’ – so much that it many may think it borders on cliche – but in actual fact, the vintage items and market stall chic on offer is way more unconventional than you might imagine and puts Berlin’s resident creatives back on the style map.
Mumbai and New Dehli, India
The common misconception about India is that it is an entirely a third world country. Whilst many of India’s poorer areas are shown in the media, much less focus is placed on their busy cosmopolitan cities which are filled with some of the richest, most stylish and most prolific socialites in the world. Mumbai is unbdoubtedly the fashion capital of this unique country with New Dehli following up a close second. Bright, vibrant hues, loose tailoring and pattern meet in a perfect fusion of East versus West as India’s twenty-something hipsters fashion traditional Indian hand-made pieces into wardrobe worthy-works of art.
Priya who runs fashion and culture blog Bombay Electric gives a platform to India’s most stylish who undoubtedly feature drama highly when putting their outfits together. Traditionalists might favour gold jewellery passed down as family heirlooms, home-made items or versatile custom made Sari’s whilst the more Eurocentric will pick up pieces from H&M, Zara and Dries Van Noten. Dressing cheaply is a way of life in Mumbai and New Dehli thanks to the range of fabrics and handmade goods freely available for customization from the cities’ jostling markets however, don’t be fooled by the price tag; these style-savvy locals spend serious cash one one off items to look this good.
Johannesburg, South Africa
A city which is slowly shredding its’ painful past is Africa’s Southern city of Johannesburg. The emerging music scene in South Africa is partly responsible with oddball rap-rave duo like Die Antwoord ‘having a moment’ in pop culture, hanging out with American and British trend-setters Cara Delevingne and Charlotte Free. However, the real stars of the show are the Johannesburg locals who have shunned the Eurocentric sensibilities of capital city Cape Town to ‘just be themselves’.
Taking cues from traditional African dress with their bold colours and prints, Johannesburg is one city where a proportion of the younger, less politicized black middle class elite are able to flaunt their wealth through fashion without, as they put it, feeling the need to be categorically ‘African’ in style.Smart dressing is an essential piece of the puzzle with colour playing a predominant factor; many unique takes on the 1960s mod-suits are popular – most specifically with a fashion crew who named themselves ‘The Smarteez’. You might find women in silken doeks (think Eriykah Badu style wrapped headscarves) sporting a not too dissimilar look with boxy tailored jackets whilst the ‘zef’ culture has picked up something of a cult following in a similar way to America’s ‘Norm-core’ and the UK’s throwback ’90s Chav look which have become ironic as they move away from their origins.
Johannesburg is certainly victim to a type of ‘class schizophrenia’ which sees the rich middle classes flaunting designer brands and burning them for bravado and others imitating the look and stereotypes of the poorer whites residing in SA, yet the blooming colourful fashion scene is becoming a much more widely recognized and unique phenomenon that represents the changing landscape of South Africa in all its’ creative beauty.