Europe has always been irresistible to shoppers, but beyond the big brands and famous streets of some of the world’s most famous cities are lesser-known districts that are inspiring a new generation of European creativity.
Milan’s vibrant Brera district offers an immaculately groomed alternative to the Italian city’s big brand super streets.
It is the last day of Milan Fashion Week in September and the paparazzi is stumbling backwards down the crowded streets of Brera, cameras whirring as they capture waif-thin models with endless legs emerging from another catwalk show. At this time of year it is hard to tell the models from the stylists, the buyers from the bystanders. Anyone with a passion for fashion makes the pilgrimage to Milan for Fashion Week.
Brera’s polished cobbled streets attract the same expensive European heels that would clatter along the boutique streets of London’s Notting Hill, UK; Brussels’ sleek Sablon square, Belgium; or Berlin’s tree-lined Kurfürstendamm in Germany. Real fashion is on the streets. It’s the combination of vintage with an obvious big brand name.
The Parisian district of Belleville is at the cutting edge of the French capital’s artistic movement and a heaven for hipsters.
Stroll around and you will discover Belleville’s hidden lanes, changing street art and fiercely individual architecture. In other words, the perfect place for creativity to thrive.
Offering a fierce independence reminiscent of the Copenhagen bohemian district of Christianshavn and an individualism that would not look out of place in the independent artists’ neighborhood/ “city-state” of Užupis in Vilnius. Belleville is the epitome of a contemporary European creative district, slowly becoming gentrifies but still with an appealing gritty edge.
It started in 1990 with 100 artists, but now there are more than 300 art souls. Annual open door events by Ateliers d’Artistes de Belleville, where the public can visit artists in their studios, now attract up to 15 000 visitors every year and have inspired similar events from all around the world.
Design District Helsinki offers a perfect introduction to contemporary and classic Finnish design, while nearby Kallio showcases edgy styles of the future.
Helsinki might give a stark first impression but you’ll soon discover a city packed with open-minded people and bold new ideas. Many of these creatives are in the heart of the Design District, a neighborhood of 25 streets, which has become a hot spot for cool designers. It started in 2005 with 50 members, but is now packed with more than 200 stores, workshops and galleries.
So what is the appeal of finish style? Finland is at the crossroads of Slavic and Scandinavian cultures. This has led to an interesting mix of dark and light, pure shapes and traditional handcrafted details. It’s a mix of melancholia and pure shapes.
Another labyrinth of cooperative creativity is situated in Kallio. Here, workshops accommodate jewelers, printers, shoe designers, bicycle makers, graphic experts, photographers and videographers. You can enjoy a rare level of interaction here. You can see the products and also spend time with the people who produced them which add another dimension of creativity to the city.