Fashion Cities of the World and the U.S.

While Paris was once the undisputed center of the western fashion world, it has had to share the stage with a number of other strong players in the last ten years. This week for The Atlantic Cities, Richard Florida and Sara Johnson wrote about The World’s Leading Cities for Fashion. The top cities were London, New York and Barcelona, with Paris coming in fourth.

The cities were ranked on the basis of how much fashion buzz they generated this year in the news media, the internet, on blogs and on Twitter. This list of top 20 global fashion cities reveals that the buzz around fashion is no longer limited to Europe and North America. Sao Paulo, Hong Kong, Buenos Aires, Bali, Sydney, Rio de Janeiro, Johannesburg, Singapore and Tokyo all made it onto the top 20 list.

Of course, “buzz” is just one way to determine who’s hot and who’s not in fashion. Another way of measuring “world fashion cities” is by looking at where there are concentrations of people who work within the fashion industry, for example as designers, seamstresses, textile workers, or staff at fashion design schools. According  Jasmine Watts for Yahoo, in 2007 list of the Top Five Cities for Shoppers and Industry Careers, Paris maintained its top position as a fashion center at the industry level; it was followed by Milan, New York, London and Tokyo in the top five list.

Florida and Johnson analyzed which U.S. cities are centers of fashion domestically, also basing their rankings on where there is fashion industry occupation concentrations. New York was on top, followed by Los Angeles. This makes sense, given the mix of fashion design schools, garment districts, and (particularly in the case of New York) the location of fashion industry corporate headquarters these cities possess. But smaller cities rounded out the top five, including Columbus, Ohio and Nashville, Tennessee, which both ranked just ahead of the San Francisco bay area.

Florida and Johnson also discuss how the city as a location influences designers’ visions. You may see the occasional ad with a picture a model wearing a a striking gown in the middle of a rural meadow. However, most often when we think of fashion, it is an urban image, whether it’s The Sartorialist’s or Bill Cunningham’s streetstyle photos, fashion ads that pose models hailing cabs, or the glamorous window displays of boutiques and department stores. As I wrote in my post An Urban Ecology of Fashion, ” It is the city with its storefronts and plate-glass windows, its sidewalks, plazas, bars, coffee shops, nightclubs and theaters that is the setting where fashion blooms and becomes a feast for the eyes.”

– Nancy L Fischer

1st photo is from Yahoo.com (see linked article); 2nd photo is by the author.

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