Forget Paris and New York: Top 10 alternate fashion cities that are still cool


Madrid is one of Europe's leading centres of fashion design whose early September fashion week is a major international event. It also has an excellent reputation for lace, leather and embroidery. Young and trendy Chueca district offers emerging fashion labels, Salamanca more upmarket clothing. Gran Via's many clothes boutiques are lodged in shops from the Art Deco era, and Calle Augusto Figueroa is packed with shoe stores. See


VIENNA, AUSTRIA - MAY 8, 2016: Mariahilferstrasse - largest and one of most popular Shopping Streets. Almost all major department stores can be found here. SunAug26Trav10 - TRAVELLER 10 Fashion cities with a difference - Brian Johnston CREDIT: Shutterstock

Mariahilferstrasse is the largest and one of most popular shopping Streets in Vienna. Photo: Shutterstock

Vienna's reputation for high culture overshadows its excellent shopping. Make a beeline to the trendy 7th District just behind the MuseumsQuartier​, where quirky fashion boutiques offer leather bags, jewellery, hip clothing and modern reinterpretations of dirndls. Nearby Mariahilferstrasse, one of Vienna's longest streets, is lined with more mainstream shopping outlets. The pedestrian Graben in the old town – and its surrounding side streets – offer plenty more plunder. See


GUANGZHOU, CHINA - MAY 25, 2014: Pedestrians pass through Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street. The street is the main shopping district of the city and a major tourist attraction. SunAug26Trav10 - TRAVELLER 10 Fashion cities with a difference - Brian Johnston CREDIT: Shutterstock

Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street, Guangzhou, is the main shopping district of the city. Photo: Shutterstock

Guangzhou has been a major trade city for over a millennium and still runs leading biannual trade fairs. Zhanxi Wholesale Market alone has a mindboggling array of clothes, and there are numerous shopping malls such as upscale La Perle and Taikoo Hui or enormous Grandview Mall. Pedestrian Shangxiajiu and Beijing roads are top mainstream shopping streets, but head to Zhuang Yuan Fang for youthful, more alternative fashions. See


MOSCOW, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 13: Interior of GUM shopping center, Moscow on February 13, 2018. SunAug26Trav10 - TRAVELLER 10 Fashion cities with a difference - Brian Johnston CREDIT: Shutterstock

Interior of GUM shopping centre, Moscow. Photo: Shutterstock

Few visitors think to shop in Moscow, yet the Russian capital is crammed with everything from street markets to high-end malls that offer the latest labels from across Europe under one roof. Even Red Square has two malls, the fabulous 19th-century GUM and partly underground Okhotny Ryad. Tverskaya Street has a temptation of upmarket fashion, lovely Russian textiles and Siberian jewellery. Plunder Pyatnitskaya Street for vintage clothing. See


Sure, you can buy pointy slippers and robes in Marrakesh's souk, but the city also has an excellent French- and Moroccan-influenced contemporary fashion scene, especially in Sidi Ghanem, a suburban light industrial zone filled with designer studios and shops. Many explode with the colour of local textiles, retro European fashions and batik-like cloth from neighbouring Mauritania. Don't forget to visit the new Yves St Laurent Museum too. See


Bangkok isn't all about market knock-offs. Hit Sukhumvit Road for huge malls, and some of the soi (alleys) off it for quality men's tailoring. Silom and Surawong roads too have an abundance of shopping malls where you can find interesting local fashion brands among the usual mainstream, international offerings. Bangkok is also one of the world's top cities for bespoke silk for clothes, bed linen and wall hangings. See



Though better known for architecture than fashion, the Windy City has become America's epicentre for up-and-coming designers and their quirky, independent boutiques, especially in Wicker Park and along Armitage Avenue. Oak Street has more mainstream luxury, Michigan Avenue something for everyone along its Magnificent Mile, one of the world's great concentrations of fashion stores and high-rise malls. Bargain hunters should head to State Street's discount stores. See


South America's top city for fashion is notable for well-priced, high-quality leather goods, but is underrated for its more general fashion scene, especially for women. The city has abundant local designers offering innovative fashions you'll find nowhere else, and at more reasonable prices. Some of the boldest designer boutiques are found around Plaza Serrano in Palermo. Lavalle and Florida streets combine department stores and independent retailers. See


SEOUL - APRIL 23: Ceramic artworks in an insadong suvnier shop on April 23, 2011, Seoul, South Korea. Korea has a long and rich ceramics tradition and there are many ceramic shops in insadong. SunAug26Trav10 - TRAVELLER 10 Fashion cities with a difference - Brian Johnston CREDIT: Shutterstock

Korea has a long and rich ceramics tradition and there are many ceramic shops in Insadong. Photo: Shutterstock

The city that gave us Gangnam style has a trendy, diverse shopping scene. Start off with souvenir-style T-shirts and vibrantly coloured traditional hanbok clothes on Insadong Street before sashaying on to American-flavoured Itaewon for the latest sporting gear, shoes, leather jackets and hip-hop outfits. Gangnam is full of departments stores and fashion boutiques. City-centre Myeong-dong is crammed with malls, Namdaemun with bargain-priced wholesale outlets. See


You'd expect great shopping in a wealthy port and trading city, and Hamburg delivers. Jungfernsteig is Germany's most expensive shopping street, with fashion and jewellery stores and a surrounding network of historic arcades. It intersects with two other prominent shopping streets, Grosse Bleichen and Neuer Wall. For more affordable prices, pedestrian Spitalerstrasse and Monckebergstrasse have big department stores. More interesting are the boutiques in Poseldorf district. See

Brian Johnston travelled both as a guest of numerous tourism offices and at his own expense.