he fashion industry is one that is, at its core, international. A trend only becomes a trend if huge swathes of people choose to follow it, and in our globalised world, it isn’t enough for just one country to see the beauty in a piece. As the months of February and September unfold, the four fashion capitals exhibit the best work of their designers in Autumn and Spring fashion weeks.
New York, London, Paris and Milan are watched worldwide on social media, with industry professionals dissecting every collection. The ultimate aim is to determine what the greatest consumer trends will be, mainly by cross-comparing the work produced in each country. These four represent fashion’s elite, and yet, the impact and expression of dress is far bigger than their boundaries.
The way we dress here in the UK is hugely shaped by so many different worldwide influences
I’ve always wondered why no other cities get as much buzz as these do. As of 2017, more countries are choosing to host Fashion Weeks to showcase their own talent. While such shows may not get the same media buzz that Paris and Milan shows get, they make no less money, and are certainly no less influential or beautiful. In fact, you’re probably obsessed with a trend that debuted on a Copenhagen catwalk by a designer you’ve never heard of, or maybe you love an aesthetic born from a country’s specific celebration of their fashion culture.
We’re going to give you a rundown of some of the international shows that have probably helped shape your wardrobe, without you even realising.
São Paulo Fashion Week
Famous for: Swimwear.
São Paulo is probably the biggest fashion hub in South America with established designers such as Karl Lagerfeld flocking to work with its boutique, Brazil-centric brands. Underrated at the moment, but with any luck, soon to blow up everywhere.
Designers to watch: Lenny Neimeyer, Helo Rôcha.
Find it in your wardrobe: In a vast majority of swimwear trends, but mostly in luxe swimsuits. Look to Niemeyer for an example in fabrics that shouldn’t be used to make swimsuits being used to make them look fabulous, combinations of classic textures, such as velvet and lace, for a romantic, Neo-Victorian feel.
Tbilisi Fashion Week
Famous for: Incorporating its region’s history into its design efforts.
The international reach of fashion means that designers are often inspired by those in other countries. French influences pop up in Japanese works all the time, and American influences in Korean. But the Spring 2017 Tbilisi show all exhibit traces of the Georgian city’s Soviet past to varying extents. Presentation at Tbilisi is by no means limited by these themes, but Georgian identity definitely seems to be something that designers in this region wish to work through in their creations.
Designers to watch: Datuna Sulikashvili, Nino Babukhadia.
Find it in your wardrobe: Honestly, probably nowhere (at least if you’re shopping on the British high street). The works of designers showing at Tsibilisi is specific because of its self-reflexive awareness of its own identity. Basserion takes influence from Soviet era schoolgirl bibs and military motifs, while Lako Bukia took photos of buildings in her home country of Georgia and used them as prints for her Spring 2017 collection. Georgia is a case in point of how far from British and American fashion this platform allows designers to go.
Seoul Fashion Week
Famous for: Street style.
If there’s anywhere that photographers are going to be willing to jump into the path of moving transport to snap a pic of a cool Fashion Week attendee, it’s Seoul. With an emphasis strongly on originality in its audiences, actual collections shown seem to be a reinterpretation of Korean traditional dress, as it has been influenced by an American look. Design houses tend to be established post 2005, so many of these young creatives are still working out their artistic voice.
Designers to watch: Pushbutton, Münn.
Find it in your wardrobe: In the use of unconventional colours or fabrics, looks that are laser cut and oversized. Shapes that are clean and sharp, but above all, fun.
Berlin Fashion Week
Famous for: Its many interpretations of the “Berlin Woman.”
Berlin’s Spring shows exhibit undertones of decadence with overtones of sleek elegance. Think the city in its 1920s heyday, but instead of a done caricature, a version that’s so 2017. As one of the countries that is nearing the same level of influence as the Big Four, looks shown at Berlin most certainly have huge influence, and are all over this season’s high street.
Designers to watch: Cushnie et Ochs, Marcel Ostertag.
Find it in your wardrobe: This season in the layers upon layers of tulle and soft pastel chiffon. Otherwise, underwear as outerwear, an abundance of cutouts and for this Autumn, some seriously well tailored suits.
The Fashion Weeks I’ve outlined are those that play a big part in the development of trends on our high street. The way we dress here in the UK is hugely shaped by so many different worldwide influences. But Fashion Weeks happen all over the world, not only to influence trends and encourage buyers. In countries like Lagos and Seoul, their fairly new Fashion Weeks are held to establish their own fashion industries.
The adoption of the Fashion Week model far and wide is evidence that nations outside of the Big Four want to foray into this business in ways that they might previously would not have been able to. As this mode of exhibition becomes more and more popular, and smaller fashion weeks gain more traction, soon we’ll be paying attention to creators in countries much further and wider that New York, London, Paris and Milan.