The 4 Modeling and Fashion Capitals of the World

There are many cities with great style. But when it comes to modeling, the Big Four are the fashion capitals of the world: New York, Paris, Milan, and London.

These cities of fashion have a significant influence on international fashion trends. They’re home to influential designers, the most important fashion weeks, and prominent fashion magazines, along with countless trade shows, exhibitions, and award shows.

If you’re a model who wants to work in high fashion, set your sights on these four cities. But remember: these cities aren’t places to start your career. Build up experience and a portfolio working with a reputable modeling agency before heading to one of these cities to catapult your modeling career into its most successful stages.

New York City, United States of America

New York City, New York
New York City, New York. Predrag Vuckovic / Getty Images

New York City is the fashion capital of North America. Fashion designers like Betsey Johnson, Calvin Klein, Derek Lam, Donna Karan, Isaac Mizrahi, and Philip Lim got their starts, studying at New York’s leading fashion schools. 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 the iconic New York 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, France

Paris, France
Paris, France. Matteo Colombo / Getty Images 

Paris is often seen as the ultimate destination for professional models. The city is known for its iconic international 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.

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 there are also plenty of opportunities to pursue commercial, print, and television modeling contracts.

Milan, Italy

Milan, Italy
Milan, Italy. AleksandarGeorgiev / Getty Images

As far back as the Middle Ages, Milan was a style powerhouse that produced high-end luxury goods such as shoes, dresses, robes, and jewelry. Today, the Italian city of Milan is one of the fashion and design capitals of the world.

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, United Kingdom

London, UK
London, UK. xavierarnau / Getty Images 

London’s fashion influence dates back to the Elizabethan era, and even now, it’s not uncommon to see oversized Elizabethan collars and ruffs on London runways. But London’s style has come a long way since the 16th century. Today, the city has an international reputation for being creative and trendsetting, as well as combining fashion influences from around the globe

London is home base for many high-powered designer labels, including Stella McCartney, Burberry, Temperley, Vivienne Westwood, and the late Alexander McQueen. The city also plays host to London Fashion Week, the fashion epicenter for designers, magazines, ​photographers, buyers, and stylists.

The United Kingdom's fashion industry supports an estimated 800,000 jobs, which includes plenty of high-fashion and catwalk gigs for both female and male models. Like New York, however, the city also supports a variety of other career options for models, including commercials and television work, as well as editorial and print modeling.