PASSION FOR FASHION
Fashion is no longer a strictly geographic affair. Thanks to online shopping, even folks in far-flung corners can be as stylish as those scraping by in cities. Boutiques are no longer limited by who walks in the door, but to where they can ship. Still, there are certain cities with an outsized impact on global fashion — not only places where tastes are made, but where fashion houses, rows of stores, and annual fashion week festivities keep them central to worldwide style. Ahead of New York Fashion Week — running Feb. 6-13 — we consulted with the folks at Global Language Monitor and, from their rankings of the top 63 fashion cities in the world, picked 20 worth a visit, starting with the big four.
Michael Kors, Betsey Johnson, Calvin Klein, Derek Lam, Donna Karan, Isaac Mizrahi, and Philip Lim all started here. Parsons, the Fashion Institute of Technology, the Pratt Institute, and LIM are all here bringing along the next generation. Kate Spade, Marc Jacobs, Kenneth Cole, and Ralph Lauren placed their headquarters here. New York City has more than 5,000 fashion showrooms — and hosts more than 75 major fashion trade shows and weeks each year. But when you come here, don't just hug Fifth Avenue: Stylish offerings from Opening Ceremony, Supreme, and other purveyors can be found all over the city.
The old tropes about Los Angeles fashion point to Hollywood glamour, Rodeo Drive, and mall culture as chief fashion contributions. That's a bit outdated. Rodarte, Buscemi, and Joyrich all call the place home, while Supreme, Fear of God, Undefeated, Odd Future, The Hundreds, and other brands build on the city's near-unparalleled street cred. Great style isn't confined to studio sets, Silver Lake bars, or shopping districts: It's in line at Korean taco trucks, tucked into hidden boutiques in strip malls, and downtown working.You can get an eyeful during L.A. Fashion Week or during the L.A. Fashion Film Festival.
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
What happens in Vegas now comes home with you in multiple carry-on shopping bags you have to schlep through McCarran. Since the early '90s, Las Vegas went from a fading casino lounge culture to a family-friendly fun palace to a den of hedonism to its current incarnation: An upscale suburban mall near sports teams. There is no fashion week here or fashion houses — just the giant Fashion Show mall on the strip, where some weekends have live runway shows on the hour. You can pretend you're in any other place in the country and shop at the Premium Outlets or Town Square mall, but to watch high rollers and daiquiri-addled tourists blow big money on clothes from prestigious international houses, you'll need to be under the fake blue skies of the Forum Shops at Caesar's Palace and among the fake canals of the Grand Canal Shops at The Venetian.
The people who were surprised by the box office performance of "Crazy Rich Asians" are going to be stunned unconscious by Singapore's position as longtime fashion hub. It hosts the Asia Fashion Exchange, Audi Fashion Festival Singapore, and an evolving Singapore fashion week. There are independent shops worth seeking out, but mall hopping has become such a key part of Singapore culture that some of the best (and least-expensive) gems are often hiding in their air-conditioned confines. Catch the high-end shops and highlights on Orchard Road, but hit Capitol Piazza, orchardgateway, 112 Katong, and the Star Vista to get out of your comfort zone a bit.
BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA
RIO DE JANEIRO
No, it doesn't have a fashion week of its own, but its Swim Week in mid-July and its turn hosting Art Basel give it an art-flavored fashion sense on par with the Big Four. When you visit will depend largely on your tolerance for heat or hurricanes, but whenever you get here the cheat sheet for the best of high-end offerings should include Collins Avenue — featuring The Webster (think Chanel, Céline, Givenchy, Balenciaga, and Alaïa, with a touch of Mary Katrantzou, Cedric Charlier, and Erdem) and Bal Harbour Shops (Prada, Cartier, Saint Laurent, Marc Jacobs, Gucci, Chanel) — and Art Basel's center, the Miami Design District. For something more affordable made by people in Miami who began their careers this century, Lincoln Road and the shops just off it are a best bet.