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The World's Next Fashion Design Hubs

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LFW
London Fashion Weekend

As the eyes (and stilettos) of the collective fashion world descended upon New York and London, and are making their way to Milan and Paris, the industry will witness the latest 'trends'. These are usually a different kind of animal print, a new twist to the 1920s and '30s, more military (sometimes disguised as 'utilitarian') and the everlasting black.

As someone who makes a living by travelling the world seeking out the latest trends and undiscovered designers, I believe that to find truly innovative fashion design, you need to visit growing cities that are eager to establish themselves on the fashion scene. A few of my favourite destinations include South Korea, Turkey and the Netherlands, where you'll find designers who aren't afraid to take risks and experiment with traditional styles in order to be truly innovative.

Forget 'Gangnam Style', South Korea's rise as a centre for fashion creativity has been in the works for a few years now. The capital city, Seoul, is hurtling towards the future, though the city's Great Palaces are firm reminders of the country's traditional past. Stroll through the buzzing 24-hour Dongdaemun textiles market, where you may run into MY-Q, the K-Pop star who serves as the creative director of flourishing accessory brand Dear Rainbow - their versatile totes and clutches are street-style staples here.

You'll see Western influences on the posh streets of Cheongdam-Dong, home to one of the newest outposts of the beautifully curated 10 Corso Como boutiques. Everywhere you look, you'll find young designers marrying the traditions of their rich culture and heritage with bold, contemporary designs. Established brands such as the Kangnamgu-based Kiok Kang and André Kim are experts at this, along with Seoul's many young up-and-comers. Stop by Sinsa-Dong's DARI Showroom to see Ana Maison's colourful bags and soft scarves and shawls - her patterned silk and wool blend scarves are ideal travelling companions.

Head to the crossroads of Europe and Asia: Turkey's capital Istanbul has been a top trading destination for centuries. Today, Turkey is the world's fourth largest supplier of textiles (you're probably wearing something from Turkey right now). Istanbul hosts a fashion week as eclectic as the country itself, with designers such as Arzu Kaprol delighting the crowds with sculptural leather pieces inspired by traditional Turkish craft.

While you're in town, stop by Selda Okutan's gallery in Beyoğlu and check out her incredible jewellery - each piece is a small, wearable sculpture. Be sure to visit the historic Grand Bazaar, where you can buy anything from carpets and rugs, to textiles, to food, while rubbing elbows with creatives buying their supplies - like the jeweller Toosis, who creates affordable cocktail rings and drop earrings using gemstones sourced from the Bazaar's stone markets.

Just beyond the catwalks of Paris, new designers are carving out spaces for themselves in the small but mighty Netherlands. There may be less established names here, but this is a scrappy country of roughly 17 million people with raw talent in abundance (and not a clog in sight). In Amsterdam, I've been most impressed with Claes Iversen and his use of the iregulat knot - you can see his work for yourself at his Herengracht salon, but don't forget to make an appointment.

After your obligatory visit to the Van Gogh Museum, take an afternoon amble to Hout & Nieuw, where you'll find a stellar selection of antique furniture and home wares, plus Dutch brand O My Bag, known for vintage-look bags and accessories made from eco-friendly leather. Don't forget Rotterdam, either - one of the world's oldest ports, it is home to lots of small streets with lovely boutiques such as LokalHeroz housing the creations of various local artists and designers (my favourites are the quirky Pelliano boys, who create stunning knitted silk ties). Whatever you do, don't underestimate the Dutch's love of fashion.

News of the major fashion weeks will dominate the fashion pages this month, but if you're after something genuinely new, tread a path less travelled and think beyond the catwalks of the Big Four fashion capitals.

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