what makes a fashion capital?


New York:

  • It is capital of the world. Therefore, it is also a fashion capital.
  • Center of money, prestige, and power, etc. Did I mention money?

London:

  • Whether it was cotton from India or domestic wool, Britain had access to much of the finest resources for fabric – a vast empire.
  • The Industrial Revolution in Britain invented ready-to-wear.
  • Home of the world’s greatest tailors.
  • Vibrant art school scene in the 1960s created youth fashion and boutique culture.

Paris:

  • Source of the finest silk fabrics to be had in the world, subsidized by the lavish sartorial spending of the court.
  • Best skilled craftspeople in all of Europe at decorative, high end, super-expensive clothing.
  • Royalty set fashions that the rest of Europe followed.
  • The original fashion capital.

Milan:

  • Industrial town that made a name making the best high end ready-to-wear.
  • Sort of sporty, more relaxed and cheaper than Paris, but still European.

Tokyo:

  • A much-mined source of inspiration for Paris fashion.
  • Known for innovative and expensive production technology.
  • Cutting edge street fashion – hipper than London even.
  • Influential, avant garde designers.

Los Angeles

  • Center of hype. Greatest influence in terms of trends.
  • Huge population of wealthy, culturally influential people.

Conclusions:

A fashion capital either has…

  • Outstanding specialization in terms of production capacity: skilled workers, resources, and innovation.

or,

  • A significant market base of wealthy people to generate interest and competition in terms of fashion and status.

The top 3 fashion capitals (London, New York and Paris) all have both attributes.

Newer ones like Tokyo or Milan can have one or another. Thanks to globalization, fashion capitals are no longer limited by geographic proximity between production and consumer.

I predict the next fashion capital will be Hong Kong. Oh, and does Antwerp even count?

Can Toronto ever be a fashion capital?

I would say that our size and the nature of the market in Canada makes it too small to sustain a significant population of wealthy, competitive and fashionable people.

If Toronto ever wants to became a fashion capital, skilled workers and specialized production could be the catalyst.

Or perhaps Montreal is closer to being a fashion capital. I know some Montrealers read the blog – what do you think?

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12 thoughts on “what makes a fashion capital?”

  1. To paraphrase Jeremy Laing – Toronto doesn’t need to be a fashion capital. We’ve got NY less than 8 hours away to be that…. Toronto is more like a big, fecund incubator, a testing ground where ideas can grow and form.

  2. Good point about raising the iusse of money, notice that the capitals all have very high standard of living? If you think NY is expensive, don’t get me started on how expensive London is. You’re right that Toronto is no where near the size for a fashion market place like NY (also account for the brain drain too). Can’t help but laugh at the faux riche here in Toronto. WTF?

  3. Fascinating analysis. I agree that Hong Kong must be next. Their importing/exporting business is so powerful. It’s one of the city’s best advantages.

  4. Yeah, Toronto’s not near large enough to wrangle for the title of “fashion capital”. Montreal and Vancouver anre very fashionable as well but I can’t see Canada ever being taken seriously in “the biz” until we shake off the beaver pelt stigma. I’m personally quite content with being the fashion incubator/experiment where new and interesting ideas are being tested. 🙂

  5. Iqaluit, Nunavut could be a fashion capital, due to its speacialization in seal skin clothes and beautiful landscape.

  6. When was this list published? London is the capital of the world, not New York.

    And considering the fact that London is now the financial capital of the world, it’s the centre of money too – not to mention power and prestige now.

    So according to this list, there is no reason why New York should be considered fashion capital.

  7. James,

    As you can see at the top this was published in 2006 when I was younger and slightly more precocious/pretentious fashion student. I’m not surprised if my old theories are half-cracked, inaccurate and not current.

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