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5 Fashion-Forward Cities That Aren’t New York or L.A.

Looking for a fashion-forward city thats thinking outside the box? Look no further.

By Emma Smith on June 23, 2022

Wynwood District, in Miami, preparing for Art Basel. These photos were taken the weekend before the fair, while the graffiti artists worked on the walls and the crowd watched the process as it became part of it.

Whether you’re an aspiring fashion professional or committed shopper, your next destination doesn’t have to be Los Angeles or New York City. So when considering your next trip, check out these five cities with burgeoning fashion scenes. From local runway shows to headquarters of world-renowned brands, they prove that there is plenty of good style to go around from coast to coast and in-between.  

1. Nashville, TN

When picturing Nashville and fashion in the same sentence, the first things that may come to mind are ten-gallon hats and snakeskin boots fit for a rhinestone cowboy. However, Nashville is home to a fashion scene that is true to its roots: full of soul, generosity, hospitality and just the right amount of sweet southern flare. 

Nashvillian Reese Witherspoon chose to establish the flagship store of her brand, Draper James, in the 12South neighborhood of her hometown. The spirit of giving back is alive and well in Nashville fashion, with brands such as Project 615 and Able factoring charity and sustainability into their business models.

Community empowerment and investment are also in the lifeblood of Nashville Fashion Week. Since its inception in 2011, the city’s fashion week chooses a local professional to receive an award via The Nashville Forward Fund each year.

Of course, you won’t be able to miss the southern hospitality when shopping in Nashville; take a stroll through the 12South, Hillsboro Village and Gulch neighborhoods for familiar favorites and local boutiques alike.

2. Austin, TX

A city known for its originality, start-up culture and sense of adventure, Austin, TX, does not leave fashion behind in its pursuit of staying weird. Home to its own Fashion Week since 2009, local brands and artisans are featured in pop-up shops for the duration of the festivities. South by Southwest, the multimedia festival that calls Austin home, is an unofficial fashion week of its own. Festivals such as SXSW, which bring together film, music and innovation, provide unique opportunities for attendees to flex their sartorial muscles. Comfort and creativity paired with nods to country-western couture inspire festival-goers and prove that when it comes to Austin style, anything goes with cowboy boots. 

The adventurous Austin spirit is alive in activewear brand Outdoor Voices, which promotes recreation (and #DoingThings) as a lifestyle, offering workout clothes in fun, bold prints and monochromatic sets. In addition, outdoor Voices features functional and flattering athleisure designs, best exemplified in their signature Exercise Dress. 

3. Savannah, GA

For the aspiring fashion professional, few cities hold as much promise as Savannah, GA. Home to the renowned Savannah College of Art and Design, which offers undergraduate and graduate degrees ranging from fashion marketing, design, fibers and textiles to accessory and jewelry design. These degrees, coupled with a rich filmmaking program that features an on-campus film studio and backlot, have helped launch the costume design careers of SCAD graduates. 

Savannah GA
Savannah / Courtesy of Karan Jain under a CC 2.0 license.

The artistic fingerprints of the college are all over the city of Savannah, including SCAD film and TV festivalsMuseum of Art and a spring fashion week, highlighting the work of SCAD seniors and graduate students. SCAD fashion week events are open to the public, be sure to check out their jewelry trunk shows and listen to talks from alumni and fashion industry experts. The campus is located in the beautiful Savannah Historic District, with beautiful homes and dreamy Spanish moss adorning the squares, inspiring all of your artistic senses. 

4. Charleston, SC

Journey just a few hours north to Charleston to taste high fashion in the Low Country. Charleston-based brands such as Brackish celebrate the natural world and the area’s numerous outdoor adventures. Originally specializing in bowties, designed as groomsmen’s gifts inspired by local waterfowl, Brackish has since expanded further into accessories for men and women’s jewelry fashions while retaining the original feathery motifs. Their signature bowtie can be seen on the red carpet, donned by celebrities such as Blake Lively, Thomas Rhett, Bill Murray, and more. 

For a chance to see designer fashions and more local retailers, Charleston is home to the annual Lexus Charleston Fashion Week. Past events have included live fashion illustrations, music and dance performances, pop-up boutique shops, designer trunk shows and, of course, runway shows. In addition to celebrating fashion and fashion professionals, since 2020, Lexus Charleston Fashion Week has showcased Hometown Heroes, healthcare workers and first responders from the community. Friends and family may nominate their heroes to be honored at the events and receive prizes from featured vendors and sponsors. 

5. Miami, FL

There is no shortage of amusements for a fashionista in Miami. The city boasts multiple fashion show events, including Miami Fashion Week and Miami Swim Week. Miami Fashion Week is the premier event for Caribbean and Latin American designers, boasting more designers from these groups than any other fashion week worldwide. This event includes the Miami Fashion Week Summit, a series of talks given by top industry professionals to benefit consumers, students and designers. 

Celebrating the cultural heritage and local artistic communities extends beyond the shows of Miami Fashion Week. The city has several thriving neighborhoods for shopping and creative expression that have made the city one of the up-and-coming leaders in the fashion industry. Wynwood, once home to the Miami Garment District, boasts scores of retail shops, open-air art installations and restaurants. If your taste is more luxurious than eclectic, head to Miami Design District, where you will encounter storefronts for Chanel, Dior, and Balenciaga, to name just a few. 

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