| NEW YORK
NEW YORK London topped New York as the global fashion capital for the second consecutive year, according to a new ranking released on Thursday, the start of New York Fashion Week.
As designers, buyers, models, stylists and fashionistas converged on the Big Apple for the semi-annual event that attracts 116,000 people, New York placed second on the annual list the tracks interest on the Internet and in the media, followed by Barcelona, Paris and Madrid.
Paul Payack, the president of the Global Language Monitor GLM.L, which compiles the annual results, said Kate Middleton and the 2012 Summer Olympics helped London retain the title for the second consecutive year.
"Kate Middleton has proved to be incredibly impactful on the British fashion brand," said Payack, adding that a recent survey showed her influence has contributed to millions of pounds (dollars) in sales this year. "The second thing is the Olympics being in the UK."
Middleton has not put a foot wrong fashionwise since her engagement and marriage to Prince William, and a nod to British fashion was even included in the closing ceremony of the Olympics. Both cemented London's position this year in the global fashion scene.
The British capital has been in a tug of war with New York since the Austin-based analytics and media tracking company started compiling the ranking nine years ago.
Paris placed third overall but was No. 1 in haute couture, while Spain proved its fashion prowess with two cities in the top five.
"For high fashion Paris is number one but it not the media machine these other places are. Barcelona has made a really strong attempt to move forward and those efforts are paying off," Payack explained.
Sao Paulo in Brazil was the queen of Latin fashion and came in seventh globally, while Hong Kong, which dropped six places from last year to No. 12 this year, was the fashion capital of Asia.
Johannesburg, in 18th position, was the only African city to break into the top 20 and Dubai, at 28, was the strongest fashion city in the Middle East.
Vancouver, a newcomer to the list and the top Canadian city, debuted at No. 31, along with Seoul, which ranked 34, and St Petersburg at 51.
Milan, a perennially favorite, dropped to eighth place from fourth last year, which Payack said was not bad because the competition is so intense. Just a few years ago it captured the top spot.
The Global Monitoring Company analyzed the Internet, blogosphere, and the top 175,000 print and electronic global media and other sources to compile the ranking.
"We search everything you can on the web. We try to be as inclusive as possible," he explained.
New York Fashion Week, which is based at Lincoln Center but includes hundreds of shows around the city, kicks off the global fashion season and is followed by designer shows in London, Paris and Milan.
(Reporting by Patricia Reaney; Editing by Sofina Mirza-Reid)