Under-the-Radar Fashion Cities
It’s not just about fashion week in New York, Paris and Milan. These five designers prove that style is blooming in hot spots across the world long famed for their rich cultural heritage.
San Francisco: Rothy’s
With its multifaceted cultural landscape, enticing gastro scene, world-class shopping and magnificent panoramas, San Francisco is where high tech meets bohemia, and laid-back style is de rigueur. In a hilly city that isn’t exactly suited to the perils of high heels, local shoemaker Rothy’s offers a wide range of signature flats, points and loafers. Once a boot and shoe repair shop on Fillmore Street, Rothy’s is the label of choice for eco-conscious urbanites. All its footwear is crafted with carbon-free rubber soles, recycled insoles with quick-dry technology, and machine-wash friendly materials, and packed in vegan and biodegradable shoeboxes. rothys.com
In search of a unique identity, Almaty’s architects and urban planners have chosen to walk the path of uncompromising modernity. From the unusual shapes of skyscrapers to the broad avenues, Kazakhstan’s former capital has a distinct urban style that has become increasingly hard for the rest of us to ignore. An Instagrammer’s Shangri-La, Almaty is home to the country’s budding fashion scene, sparking international attention from connoisseurs the world over. Borrowing from Almaty’s versatile cityscape and confident personality, designers Saule Dzhamil and Kira Maysheva of local brand Pentatonica focus on multi-layered patterns. With a dash of Japanese constructivism and a sprinkle of Belgian minimalism thrown in for good measure, they combine ageless shapes with more complex structures, accentuating the wearer’s individuality with transformative pieces that can be worn in multiple ways. pentatonica.kz
At the end of the 19th century, Vienna was one of the fashion capitals of Europe. Along with Paris and London, the city’s many couture salons were frequented by the affluent elites of the time. Two world wars may have relegated Vienna’s fashion ambitions to the second row, but recent years have seen a steady comeback as homegrown talent along with Slovak, Czech, Hungarian, Polish and Romanian designers has put Vienna firmly on the fashion map.
Design duo Taro Ohmae and Tanja Bradaric met during their studies in Vienna and continued their journey to Paris, where both worked at Chloé and Balenciaga before returning to the Austrian capital to start their own label of bespoke accessories. Sagan Vienna brought its first classic to life in the form of a cleverly crafted shopper bag with traditional Viennese weaving (see above left). Exploring the romance between old and new and honoring the revival of natural materials such as bamboo, straw and rattan, the duo’s signature style has taken the fashion scene by storm. sagan-vienna.com
Santiago: Munay Sisters
Vibrant and culturally rich, Santiago, Chile, has blossomed in recent decades. It scores with galleries, street festivals and top chefs, making it a rising star among South American cities. Locals sit outside the neighborhood of Bellavista drinking coffee in the sun or sipping cocktails under the moonlight while young couples snuggle on the grass of Parque Forestal. In the upscale district of Vitacura, celebrated chefs outdo each other with spectacular creations.
Among this new-fangled potpourri of influences, Munay Sisters, a label founded in 2016 by Pía and Loreto Leiva, presents sustainable clothing with a strong commitment to the quality of garments, their organic resources, the welfare of people and fair trade. The sisters’ minimalist and timeless designs, showcasing an aesthetic that is inspired by South American culture and the visual codes of the region’s indigenous peoples, translate to a functional and straightforward line compromising genderless, ageless and unseasonal pieces. munaysisters.com
Toronto: Patricia Wong
Host to one of the globe’s most prominent film festivals, Toronto is hip, cosmopolitan and understatedly stylish. Canada’s largest city charms visitors and locals alike with its unique blend of metropolitan sophistication and claims its spot on the global fashion city circuit with a healthy dose of intrepidity.
Equally cosmopolitan, Hong Kong-born jewelry designer Patricia Wong could not imagine living anywhere else. Reflecting her love for fashion, architecture and sculpture, Wong’s timeless pieces of wearable art challenge conventional norms in jewelry design and reflect the rhythm of a city that feels very comfortable in its own skin. patriciawong.ca