New York is one of the most vibrant fashion capitals in the world, thanks to its multicultural vibe. Credit: TK

Style Icons: The Top Fashion Capitals of the World

London, Milan, New York and Paris. Fashion’s top cities are a mecca of style

by Shandana A. Durrani

Fashion is a form of self-expression, allowing us to show the world who we really are. No matter where you are in the world, you’ll find someone pushing the boundaries of style and exuberantly shouting to the world: THIS IS ME! 

Before COVID, fashion influencers, and tastemakers were everywhere, showcasing outfit after outfit on a daily basis. But since the pandemic, many people have focused on their well-being rather than their style. We’ve got used to working in pyjamas or sweats, day in and out. But it seems fashion is poised to make a comeback, with everyone restless to let their style show. 

From New York to Paris to Milan to London, the fashion capitals of the world set the trends that everyone else follows (remember Miranda Priestly’s infamous shut down of Andy’s blue sweater in The Devil Wears Prada)? Each city has its distinctive vibe and style. Explore these dynamic metropolises ahead of S/S Fashion Week this September and get a shot of fashion inspiration to guide you into autumn.


London is a city of dichotomies. On one side, there’s punk, on the other, a more traditional vibe. The punk movement was a response to the conservative government and attitudes in the United Kingdom in the 1970s and ’80s. Thanks to Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren’s shop on King’s Road, Chelsea, teenagers in the ’70s, were soon sporting colourful mohawks, studded chokers, leather jackets and Doc Martens. Punk isn’t dead but today’s rebellious style has evolved to more a mix of punk with more luxe elements sans the over-the-top mohawks.


While punk is ingrained in the London fashion psyche, the city also has a reputation for made-to-measure fashion. More conservative Brits opt for head-to-toe Savile Row tailoring. Think English country gentleman (tweeds, neutral tones) and you get the picture.

London S/S 2022 Fashion Week: September 17-21, 2021


Like their British counterparts, Milanese gush over impeccable tailoring. But while the Brits are more traditional with print and colour, the Italians relish bright colours, bold prints and sumptuous fabrics. That means no denim and lots of silk, wool and leather.

The word Milan comes from the English word “milliner” and the city boasts a reputation for textiles and tailoring that dates back more than 500 years. Locals curate their wardrobes, choosing fewer but more durable pieces that are hand-sewn or meticulously crafted, from stitch to seam. Head to the Quadrilatero d’Oro, arguably the most fashionable street in the world, for window and people watching.


Milan S/S 2022 Fashion Week: September 22–27, 2021

New York 

Americans are more casual than their European counterparts. Comfort is key throughout the United States but in New York, it has to have an edge. Sky-high stilettos have long been a New York staple but since the pandemic, many Manhattanites are sporting tennis shoes or more comfortable footwear—think vintage cowboy and kitten-heeled boots, etc.

Denim was invented in America (thanks to a German immigrant named Levi Strauss) so it’s a mainstay of any fashionable New Yorker’s wardrobe. Pair it with a tucked-in oxford and a blazer, and you’re already fitting in. For more adventurous fashionistas, opt for colourful prints mixed with black staples. Walk the streets of Bed Stuy, Brooklyn, and you’ll find a melting pot of style thanks to the mix of immigrants and Midwest transplants.

New York

New York S/S 2022 Fashion Week: September 8-12, 2021


Ah, Paris. We’ve all tried to perfect that classic French girl style: minimal makeup, casual yet refined clothing, a nonchalantly wrapped scarf and a bold red lip. 

Paris has been a capital of fashion since the times of Louis XIV, but thanks to designers Jacques Doucet, Madeleine Vionnet and the iconic Coco Chanel, Paris became the capital of fashion in the 20th century. 

Parisians mix high-end pieces and basic staples: Think Breton striped shirts, denim and a more lavish wool blazer. Like Americans, Parisians opt for comfort first—hence the love of American jeans—but like the Milanese and Brits, they look for quality that will last. Everything has to look effortless so labels and anything too matchy matchy is eschewed for minimalism. For the boldest and brightest fashion stars, head to Le Marais in the fourth arrondissement for some inspiration. 


Paris S/S 2022 Fashion Week: September 27–October 5, 2021