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Five best places in the world to go trendspotting

FDCI president Suni Sethi takes us to the five best places ideal for observing street fashion – and what you can learn from the art of trendspotting

brunch Updated: Jul 23, 2016 20:26 IST
Street style spotting around the world
Street style spotting around the world(Getty Images)

The beauty of street style is that it is personal, quirky and has an X factor. Even though I am not strictly a street-style shopper, I have admired many cities in the world which have seamlessly adopted this non-posey and effortless medium to convey their individualistic aesthetics.

At this time, the Indian market is spinning on its head, giddy with the couture rush. GenNext has absolutely no interest in bridal outfits, which is why street style has emerged as a gamechanger. It is all about mix and match. If I were to sum it up, it is actually ‘visual psychology’!

Even though a few of the cities on my list may seem predictable, these destinations undoubtedly deserve an inclusion. But having said that if you really want to see exclusive street style in our country, the place to head twice a year is the India Fashion Week in Delhi, which truly is where the ‘twain meet’, defying Rudyard Kipling.

SEOUL:The radical fashion hub

Keep an eye on this city, for it is bound to grow into a big fashion hub in the future. South Korea is a place where most of the dressing remains monochromatic, but what makes it enticing is the odd choices of hues from black lips to blue nails intertwined with sportswear elements, hoodies, bombers, Stan Smiths and girlie dresses. I’m guessing that’s why they love the radical fashion label Vetements.

TOKYO: Visually the most riveting

From the bright and vivacious Harajuku to the Shibuya and Shinjuku girls, street style here is a reflection of sub-cultures that exist beneath the traditional dress, the kimono, which like the sari has withstood the test of time. What I found most fascinating were girls dressed as Manga comic characters (Cosplayers) who looked as if they had just walked straight out of a book. Kawaii is another aspect which kept me captivated, which is the Japanese obsession with the ‘cult of cute’, marked by cartoons (Hello Kitty), Lolita styles, frills and ruffles. It is visually the most riveting place to visit.

PARIS:The home of fashion

It is home to the most coveted design houses from Saint Laurent to Hermès, and as they say nobody can do it better than the French (we obviously mean fashion here). You can spot the most spectacular mix of colours and prints on Champs-Elysees, from lace teamed with stripes to slim fit jeans and pumps. The fantastic weather makes it easy to take out your fitted pencil skirts, as no one is afraid to show a little leg. The thumb rule here is simple, but impactful. I would head only to Boulevard Saint Germain, Left Bank or the lively Latin Quarter to admire waif-thin French women wearing big hats and flaunting small waists.

LONDON:The chic-est corner

The chic-est corner of the world, brimming with adventurous women who are unafraid of wilful experimentation. North London will see ASOS queens dressed in tweeds, while south London is a bit more sportswear-oriented and not focussed on make-up, so less is more here. Besides the fashion districts of Oxford and Bond Street where you are bound to see Ferragamo-wearing women, it is Mount Street where you will find stylish men shopping at Lanvin. I’ve been a regular at the Dover Street Market – the ‘alternate’ Rei Kawakubo of Comme Des Garcon’s brainchild. You can spot some serious shopping by people dressed in a kind of duet between modern and vintage. Whether it is boyfriend jeans, tartans or just a pair of Doc Martens, these always have enough firepower to get you noticed on the streets of London.

NEW YORK:Never short of inspiration

NYT photographer, the late Bill Cunningham had photographed the streets of New York for decades. This year, even as he completed more than 50 years of photography [before he passed away last month], he was never short of inspiration. He captured the most intimate moments of rebellious style and I too witnessed this revolution in winter when everyone wore black and the streets saw a sea of this hue. But there were some who took the road less travelled and courted mad hats, crazy animal prints to plaids in South of Houston Street (SoHO).

Also watch out for:HAVANA

One of the last few Communist bastions, there is more to Cuba than hand-rolled cigars and the Cubana dresses the women so gracefully flaunt. Chanel presented the exhibition Obra en Proceso (Work in Progress) by Karl Lagerfeld at the Factoría Habana. Cubans witnessed Chanel’s Cruise 2016-2017 line, and it was rumoured Castro’s grandson may walk the ramp! Vivacious would be the right adjective to describe street style in Havana: the women’s elaborate turbans keep them sparkly as temperatures soar. Not to forget the ruffles and straw hats!

Style Glossary

Couture: Highly fashionable made-to-measure clothes

Monochromatic: Of a single colour

Boyfriend jeans: A loose, baggy pair of jeans worn by women that could very well belong to their boyfriends

Tartan: A pattern, usually on wool, consisting of criss-crossed horizontal and vertical bands in multiple colours

Sunil Sethi is the president of the Fashion Design Council of India and a dapper fashionista himself

From HT Brunch, July 24, 2016

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