New York City is a fashion capital due to its strong presence in the spheres of business, culture, arts and education. Typically, cities with strong cultural influences are also influential in the fashion world.

New York's rise in the fashion community began in the 20th century when it gained fame for developing sportswear as fashion, which was then a novel idea. This was a different approach from that of Paris, the historical fashion capital of the world. As New York became more influential, more fashion schools were opened. Today, New York is home to some of the top fashion schools in the world. Elite designers often come from these schools and the fashion circles in proximity. Additionally, many foreign designers decide to live and work in New York because of its status. New York essentially is a fashion "brain" where many of the latest ideas and trends develop.

As noted by reporters from the Telegraph, another important distinction which qualifies New York as a fashion capital is its annual hosting of "fashion week." This is where the top designers and investors in the fashion world come to view the latest clothing lines and exchange ideas. While many cosmopolitan cities host their own fashion weeks, only those of London, Milan and Paris garner as much attention.