New York City is easily the most fashionable capital of North America. It’s where top designers like Betsey Johnson, Calvin Klein, Derek Lam, Donna Karan, Isaac Mizrahi, and Philip Lim got their starts (they all studied at New York’s leading fashion schools), and it’s where many top designers, including Kate Spade, Marc Jacobs, Kenneth Cole, and Ralph Lauren, choose to headquarter their fashion houses.
New York City has over 5,000 fashion showrooms—more than any other city in the world—and hosts over 75 major fashion trade shows and market weeks (including Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week) each year. The New York City modeling market is huge and diverse and offers so much more than just high fashion and editorial modeling. Models of all genders, ages, and sizes can explore other in-demand markets such as commercial, fit, showroom, petite, plus, and parts modeling.
Paris is the ultimate destination for professional models. The city is known for its iconic fashion houses, including Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Dior, and its fashion week is the final (and arguably the most anticipated) stop on the whirlwind that is Fashion Month. But even though haute couture is the first thing that comes to many models’ minds when they think of Paris, there are many other opportunities to explore. Paris is often considered the “New York of Europe,” which means that just like its North American counterpart, it offers the expected high-fashion work and international cosmetic and beauty campaigns, but also plenty of commercial print work and television commercials.
The Italian city of Milan has long been known as a fashion and design capital. Even in the middle ages, Milan was a style powerhouse that produced high-end luxury goods such as shoes, dresses, robes, and jewelry. And now, Milan is home to over 12,000 fashion companies, 800 showrooms, and 6,000 stores, including top brands like Armani, Prada, Valentino, and Versace. The city also hosts Milan Fashion Week, one of the most important fashion events in the world. Milan is a competitive modeling market, but it’s also a great place to launch your modeling career on an international level!
London’s fashion influence dates all the way back to the Elizabethan era, and even today it’s not uncommon to see oversized Elizabethan collars and ruffs on the runway. But London’s style has come a long way since the 16th century, as anyone can tell by the city’s creative and trendsetting reputation. London is home base for a number of serious designer labels, including Stella McCartney, Burberry, Temperley, Vivienne Westwood, and the late Alexander McQueen, and plays host to London Fashion Week, the fashion epicenter for designers, magazines, photographers, buyers, and stylists.
With so much to see and do, it’s estimated that the UK’s fashion industry supports nearly 800,000 jobs! And yes, that includes plenty of high-fashion and catwalk gigs for both female and male models.
The Big Four Modeling and Fashion Capitals of the World
It’s easy to find a city with great style, but when it comes to dominating the fashion landscape, it’s all about the Big Four: New York, Paris, Milan, and London.
These mega fashion capitals have a major influence on international fashion trends. They’re home to the most influential designers, the most important fashion weeks, and the biggest fashion magazines, not to mention endless trade shows, exhibitions, and award shows.
So if you’re a model who wants to work in the most exciting fashion markets around, then set your sights on these four cities. Do keep in mind, however, that these cities aren’t places to build up experience and a portfolio. They’re places to aspire to—the final destinations in a well-planned modeling career.