SHANGHAI - Shanghai has surpassed Tokyo and Hong Kong to become Asia's most stylish city, a new survey has found.
According to research by Global Language Monitor, a United States-based data research firm that catalogs trends in word usage, Shanghai is the reigning fashion capital of Asia, ranking 10th worldwide.
New York ranked first in the 10th annual survey on global fashion cities, followed by Paris and London.
Asia is well-represented in the top 20, with Tokyo at No 11, Singapore at No 19 and Hong Kong at No 20. Beijing didn't make the top 55.
"As China further emerges onto the world stage, Shanghai leads the fashion charge," said Bekka Payack, the New York-based fashion director for the outfit.
Global Language Monitor tracked more than 250,000 print media and social media channels looking for buzzwords associated with fashion and haute couture. It then traced the contextual usage and frequency of the words to set a gauge for ranking global fashion houses.
China's commercial hub deserves to be Asia's fashion capital, said Qi Xiaozhai, dean of the Shanghai Commercial Economic Research Center.
"Shanghai has made a triumphal return by jumping 12 places from last year's ranking. It should return to its rightful place in the top 10," Qi said.
Shanghai has become a hot destination for multinational brands seeking to engage a population with an increasing disposable income and craze for the latest lineups. For instance, Apple has four retail outlets in Shanghai, more than Tokyo and Singapore combined.
Besides, luxury shoppers in Shanghai continue to splurge on fancy items, with average consumer's spending even more than New Yorkers. Shanghai residents spent an average of $1,000 on their last purchase, double the amount of their New York counterparts, according to Milan-headquartered marketing firm ContactLab.
Around 91 per cent of Shanghai residents said they plan to make a similar purchase in the next six months, compared with 77 per cent of New Yorkers.
Chinese account for 29 per cent of the world's luxury expenditures, a Bain & Co study found in December.
In world-class cities like Shanghai, shoppers have grown more sophisticated as they realise the only way to show their uniqueness and personality is through "fashion with personalized mix and match", not with accessories that everybody can wear, said Brunno Lanes, a Bain partner in China and lead author of the study.
Shanghai residents have the style and figure to carry out the latest fashion trends, said Sujata Sahai, a translator and documentary writer from India who lives in Shanghai.
"I find people here are a lot more brand-conscious and spend a great amount on fashion. They all turn out very pretty," she said.
Shanghai is ahead of Singapore and Hong Kong in terms of getting dresses properly matched, said Sahai, who has travelled extensively in the region.
The landmark China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone is likely to gain further traction among foreign businesses lured by loosened investment curbs, said Sun Lijian, vice-dean of the School of Economics at Fudan University.
High-end retail chains, including Lane Crawford and Galeries Lafayette, have recently entered the Chinese market. Meanwhile, as mainstream Western labels have occupied nearly every street corner, domestic brands should aim to redefine China's fashion trends, Sun said.
For instance, the biannual Shanghai Fashion Week, a festivity that once attracted the likes of Jean Paul Gaultier and Vivienne Westwood, is giving heed to local brands this year.
"Indigenous brands were given a boost after China's first lady Peng Liyuan wore all made-in-China outfits during her foreign tour. Wealthy trendsetters will like distinctive high-end goods that require a trained eye to detect. These are opportunities for Chinese brands," Sun said.