Paris, Milan, London and New York have been considered the big 4 of the 20th Century for longer than we can remember. While London has claimed eclecticism, Milan has adopted leather and luxury. New York is the Queen of sportswear and attracts the most journalists, and Paris is synonymous with couture and is notoriously the most difficult to break into. But the 21st century is shaking up the big four as we know it. Things are changing at a rapid pace and other contenders are rising to the challenge of becoming the new fashion capitals.

Here are the five fashion-forward cities you need to watch out for; it’s a brave new world out there.

Manila

The capital of Philippines, designers from Manila are making huge strides in the fashion industry. For the last few years, Philippines has been slowly and steadily making its presence felt during Paris Fashion Week. Showing alternative styles to the classics and colour limited palettes we usually see in Paris, in contrast, Filipino design embraces pop shades and truly stands out from the crowd.

Creating pieces using their traditional handcrafted techniques, fashion designers from Manila are able to stir up unique looks using their distinctive style of dressmaking.

One of the most famous designers from Manila is Carissa Cruz Evangelista and her brand Beatriz. Making it to Oprah Winfrey’s favourite things list of 2016, Beatriz uses yarn wrapping to create intricate clutch bags and matching cuff bracelets.

Other emerging designers from Manila and the Philippines include Neil Felipp with his stunning metal crafted box bags and Dennis Lustico for his specialty hand beading inspired by Japanese desserts.

Finally, no review of the talent from the Philippines would be complete without Francis Libiran and his three-dimensional renditions of evening gowns, popular with Tyra Banks.

Berlin

Berlin is fast approaching becoming a fashion capital, competing with London for the most alternative looks. Breaking boundaries is the name of Berlin’s game, often using non-traditional models in their shows including amputees, disabled models, and elderly show stoppers.

Berlin’s fashion scene aims to produce luxury and avant garde products showcased in an everyday wear way. Native A-listers such as Heidi Klum and Diane Kruger have helped propel the German fashion scene, and so has the revered fashion mogul Karl Lagerfeld. Lagerfeld, who although technically German, has ultimately received honorary Parisian status since taking over the Chanel brand—and we all know Paris is a hard nut to crack!

Tokyo

Tokyo’s fashion aesthetics are incredibly diverse, allowing for many bizarre yet wearable clothing and accessories to blossom. From the child-like inspirations of Barbie to the darker goth culture, it appears Tokyo fashion holds no boundaries.

Japanese designers have been integrated into the current big four for years, including legendary moguls like Issey Miyake and Yohji Yamamoto. The city is sure to get fashion capital status in the not so distant future.

The Harajuku following and it’s on-point internet culture have helped to shape Japanese fashion into what it is today. In comparison to other competitors, Tokyo rebels against conformity and produces eccentric styles and pure artistic creations, often ignoring current western trends completely.

Shanghai

Many of our clothing labels once said: “Made In China”. Now, more and more of those labels are changing to “Designed In China”.

At the same time that Chinese designers are bringing their influence to the west, including renowned couture designer Guo Pei, a favourite of Rihanna, western designers are creating their presence in Asia. Victoria Beckham has a large set up in Shanghai. And then, of course, the big Victoria’s Secret fashion show is being held in Shanghai this year too.

Stockholm

Swedish and Scandinavian design has been dominating the high street for years under the disguise of commercial branding. The Hennes & Mauritz group, more commonly known as H&M, is still one of the high streets leading brands and over the past year, they have grown their empire significantly.

Using current western trends and dividing their market into different sectors including luxury versus mass market and age range, Hennes & Mauritz has introduced a number of other brands.

Their most high-end brand, COS, is incomparable to their mass market brand Monki, sticking to oversized designs, solid colours and classic Scandinavian shapes.

At the same time, Monki and &Other Stories both have a different feel again, with Monki appealing to the younger, less affluent crowd and &Other Stories bridging their gap between high-end and low-end.

With such a presence on the high street and limited edition collaborations with top designers, most recently Erdem, we’re certain it won’t be long before Swedish design explodes on to the runways.

And although Fashion Weeks of the current big four have their own place in the world of fashion, times are changing and the wave of new fashion capitals is certainly on the horizon. The big four are no longer dominated by home grown talent with many designers showing at Paris fashion week not being French, and many designers participating in London Fashion Week not being English. This influx of designers from all over the world is blurring the lines between each fashion capital, now more than ever.

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