Melbourne Fashion Festival

Models hit the catwalk at Melbourne Fashion Week. Photo: Jason South

It's official. Sydney beats Melbourne as the most fashionable city in Australia. According to a Global Language Monitor survey, Sydney sits comfortably at number 8 in the global fashion capital rankings, 18 places ahead of Melbourne who stumble in at 26. And the gap is widening. Just one year earlier Sydney was at number 15 with Melbourne at number 21.

Yes, that's right Sydneysiders. you can now speak with impunity when you say Sydney streaks ahead in the age-old war pitting the two cities against each other. And if it's begrudgingly admitted that Melbourne dominates the sports side with the Australian Open and the Grand Prix, it appears, just six weeks out from the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival, that Sydney owns style – a category Melburnians thought they'd always win.

Jo Barry, director of social media company The Word Collective, who has lived in both cities and worked at a fashion magazine when she was based in Sydney, has this to say: “As someone who's inhabited both places, I disagree. Sydneysiders exude sexiness, while Melbourne women dress with a more intellectual and thought-through look – it's all about unexpected cuts and perfect layering with an intelligent mix of textures, proportions and fabrics. There's a reason why Topshop, Muji, Uniqlo, Acne and A.P.C chose Melbourne for their first Australian outposts."

But Sydney's who's who of fashion say they've known all along that Sydney is where it's at, with Fashion Week originating in Sydney and the majority of designers basing themselves in Sydney.

“The business is here and the buyers come here,” says Georgie Renkert, fashion designer of label, We Are Kindred. “There's a certain amount of glamour attached to dressing in Sydney. You can always frock up and never look out of place in an LBD, or a floral or a lace.”

The methodology of the research can't be blamed either, which, according to the Global Language Monitor website, “is based on GLM's narrative tracking technology. Narrative Tracker analyses the internet, blogosphere, the top 250,000 print and electronic news media, as well as new social media sources [such as Twitter] as they emerge.” Sounds rather thorough.

Sydney style is often referred to as “beach culture” while Melbourne has always been “more European”. In fact, a quick Facebook shout-out to my friend network elicited this comment: “If you consider torn jean shorts, same-same balayage and orange fake tanned legs fashionable, Sydney wins.”

But it seems while Melbourne turned its well-styled back, Sydney has quietly become the more sophisticated sister, ditching its beachy roots in favour of high fashion allure. Elegance and savvy chic are the order of the day with less focus on summer style and more focus on dressing for the occasion.

“I would say there are a few major players in the blogging community that had a bearing on this rank too,” says Beth MacGraw, designer of the label macgraw. “Sydney is the home of Mercedes-Benz Australian Fashion Week, our international platform for local designers, but I love the Melbourne aesthetic and think the Australian industry as a whole is stamping its relevance on the international fashion community.”

So which cities made the Top 10?

1.     New York

2.     Paris

3.     London

4.     Los Angeles

5.     Barcelona

6.     Rome

7.     Berlin

8.     Sydney

9.     Antwerp

10.     Shanghai