Go East: The Emergence of New Fashion Capitals

by Ieva Zu, Founder & Editor, Fashion Bloc

Interesting things are happening in the fashion industry. You may still be talking about the head-carrying models at the Gucci AW 2018 show. The Internet might still be flooded with celebrities interpreting the Catholic imagination in fashion at the MET Gala 2018. And everyone is still hyped about the Givenchy couture wedding dress of the newly married Duchess of Sussex. The mainstream fashion happenings feed us all. But behind the scenes, fashion is boiling something else for us. A new shift in fashion and beyond. Fashion business has always been an accurate representation of the world’s economics and politics. Today, more than ever, we should look beyond the catwalk and the dress to see the new shift in fashion and make sense of it all.

Going East: New Europe

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This May has been an interesting wrap-up in the fashion calendar. It has hosted two significantly different and somewhat similar fashion weeks before the start of the new fashion calendar next month. At the beginning of May well-rested fashion elite packed their bags for Tbilisi. The Georgian capital city has been hosting the 7th edition of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tbilisi with catwalk shows, showrooms, presentations and talks featuring such international names as Vogue Talents godmother Sara Maino and the fashion rebel of the decade Gosha Rubchinskiy. Showing local and international designers, Tbilisi has been gaining recognition as the fashion capital of East Europe with all traditional segments of local designers making waves internationally. From Paris-approved Situationist to the Instagram-babe Anouki, Georgia has it all and it’s not all about Demna Gvasalia. Although it would be fair to attribute the Georgian fashion hype due to the professional success of the Vetements founder and Balenciaga’s creative director, if he would have been the only talented designer originating from this Eurasian country, fashion elite would have stopped going to Tbilisi seasons ago. And they still go and find something new to celebrate.

 

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The New Europe is gaining traction of the fashion industry beyond Georgia. Ukraine has established itself as a producer of fashion talent with designers such as Anna K and Konstantin Kofta dominating fashion media pages and Paris multi-brand showrooms hosting dozens of worth-to-watch brands from Ukraine every season. More recently, the launch of Vogue Poland and the upcoming launch of Vogue Czech Republic-Slovakia has marked a new era for the New Europe on the fashion map. Fashion might be a new industry in the former East Bloc countries, but it is there to stay and, one day, dominate the bigger part of that map.

Going further East: Saudi Arabia

This May also welcomed the first edition of the Arab Fashion Week in Saudi Arabia. Dubai has been hosting the Arab Fashion Week for the 6th season now but the fashion event has extended to the more conservative Saudi just now. It has inaugurated itself as the first ever international fashion week of Ready-Couture and Pre-Collections. The event is invite-only for UHNWI female clients, Press and Buyers and concentrates on ‘more relaxed’ couture model. According to the Arab Fashion Council, the fashion week is equally positioned alongside other international fashion weeks and works in collaboration with all. “It has not been something that wasn’t on the table or in the picture. Our fashion council is trying to bring the fashion industry in Saudi Arabia to a whole new level, a whole new industry”, explains Princess Noura Bint Faisal Al-Saud, honorary president of the Arab Fashion Council in Riyadh.

A recent announcement of the newly formed strategic partnership between British Fashion Council and the Arab Fashion Council is just one step at a time for the Arab Fashion Week. Same works for the British – without the support of the European Union, which will be implied by Brexit, BFC has to look for new allies. Saudi and the whole Middle East with its purchasing power and the urge for luxury fashion might be the perfect solution. When financial aid is no longer available, it’s time to look for other business solutions.

We might still call New York, London, Paris and Milan as the big four of fashion, however, the world is wider and more diverse. The big four will not go anywhere but it might well add the two or three more to the list of the fashion capitals. Don’t even get me started on China.