Forging the future of fashion

Jessica Holland
Jessica Holland

Emerging hubs for couture, such as Dubai and Singapore, are spotlighting top regional talent and boosting business

Although reporters around the world still flock to the four main Fashion Weeks in Paris, London, Milan and New York, the style agenda is increasingly being set in emerging hubs. Official and alternative fashion festivals are proliferating around the world, and it’s becoming easier for buyers and stylists to find inspiration close to home, and to support local and regional talent. Here are some of the best places to spot the styles of the future:

Asia Fashion Exchange

Asia Fashion Exchange
Asia Fashion Exchange (AFX) brings together Singapore's key fashion events, from trade shows to talent development programmes

This weeklong fashion festival aims to put Singapore on the map as the couture crossroads of Asia. It takes place every May, bringing together big names from the West, like Diane von Furstenberg and Zac Posen, with stars from Singapore and the surrounding region. A new talent support programme proves Singaporean designers with a platform to showcase their collections before international retailers, as well as the opportunity to learn from key industry leaders.

Berlin Alternative Fashion Week

Asia Fashion Exchange
"It is a fashion week that celebrates non-conformity and one which challenges gender roles and restrictive attitudes," says Berlin Alternative Fashion Week's Founder Adam Rose

Berlin is too free-spirited and creative a city to have just one, official fashion week. Edgier designs find a home at this fringe-style event, which celebrates non-conformity and challenges gender roles. If you’re hankering to see models clanking down the runway in ice-hockey skates, wearing what looks like samurai costumes made out of quilts, this is the place to be.

Fashion Forward Dubai

Fashion Forward Dubai
Fashion Forward Dubai recently launched EPIC, an empowerment programme that provides business development opportunities to regional fashion talent through a series of initiatives.

This biannual extravaganza, which includes catwalk shows from regional designers as well as seminars and panel discussions, demonstrates Dubai’s status as MENA’s fashion capital. One of the stars of the spring/summer 2017 runway show, which takes place at Dubai Design District (d3) in October, will be Dubai-based label Amato, which caters to an elite Arab clientele, as well as a few select international stars, such as Beyoncé and Katy Perry. “We don’t need to go to all the different countries,” Harvey Nichols Hong Kong buying consultant Song Pham said of last season’s FFWD, “because we've seen designers from all the different countries here.”

Sao Paulo Fashion Week

The São Paulo Fashion Week
The São Paulo Fashion Week is considered the fifth largest fashion week after in the world behind New York, London, Paris and MilanImage: Nathalie Edinburg

Brazil is not only the home of the supermodel Gisele Bundchen, it also plays host to the world’s fifth largest Fashion Week. The event has helped to launch the careers of homegrown designers such as Carlos Miele, Francisco Costa, Ricardo Almeida and Reinaldo Lourenço, who described his spring/summer 2017 runway show as “pop couture”: a mixture of street style and high fashion.

Tokyo Girls Collection

The São Paulo Fashion Week
Anyone who can afford the ¥3,000 entry fee can attend Tokyo Girls Collection, in contrast to typical fashion industry invitation-only events

Trust Tokyo to put its own unique spin on the idea of a fashion show. This enormous event is open to the public, as well as buyers and journalists, showcasing the season’s fashionable streetwear by homegrown brands. There are fashion “muses” showing off the clothes, live music by well-known acts and charity auctions incorporated into the show.