Tbilisi on the rise: 7 need-to-know designers from Georgia's flourishing fashion scene
What do we know about Georgia? The country — and not the American state contemporarily linked to AMC's The Walking Dead — is a far flung port of call even for most intrepid travellers. A quick Google search will tell you that it's home to Europe's highest mountains (great for skiing), that natives don't refer to their nation as Georgia (but Sakartvelo), and that the locals are an affable lot (according to this BBC listicle).
On the fashion front, a separate enigma entirely. Just three years ago, any voracious fashion enthusiast would be hard pressed to find mentions of Tbilisi (the capital and locus of all fashion action) in mainstream media, but the supersonic rise of one man now sees the term 'Georgian' tossed about more than a well-mixed salad.
Needless to say, Demna Gvasalia is not all there is to fashion in Georgia. Beyond his reworked Levi's denim and Champion hoodies lie a breeding ground for tomorrow's need-to-know designers. Kicking off this week for the third year running, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tbilisi is slowly but surely gaining international coverage and most recently, it's racked up a rep for superb street style. The spotlight on Georgia's capital, no doubt a by-product of Gvasalia's global coup. But the talent? Unquestionably of its own merit. Certainly enough to galvanise multi-label retailers like Moda Operandi to turn to Tbilisi — in name of securing a first-mover advantage on their promising, underground labels.
For the inquisitive creature looking to venture into lesser known territory, add these seven up-and-coming Georgian designers to your fashion lexicon.
Designed by: Aleksandre Akhalkatsishvili
With a penchant for: Clean cuts and aching simplicity, contrasted by uniquely textured fabrics.
Shop on Matériel Tbilisi.
Designed by: Irakli Rusadze and Davit Giorgadze
With a penchant for: A muted and primary palette, drawing the eye with experimental construction and offbeat silhouettes. Count Bella Hadid a fan.
Designed by: Lado Bokuchava
With a penchant for: Incorporating unexpected materials — such as plastic and cellophane — to complement maximalist prints, pleating and ruching.
Shop Atelier Kikala.
Designed by: Gvantsa Janashia
With a penchant for: Gamine femininity, much like Céline. Look closely at Janashia's clothing to discover surprise elements such as discrete embroideries.
Designed by: Alexander Arutyunov
With a penchant for: Whimsical storytelling through vestal characters and costume-esque ensembles.
Look out for trunk shows on Moda Operandi.
6. MACH & MACH
Designed by: Gvantsa and Nina Macharashvili
With a penchant for: Street influences woven into a party girl's arsenal, jam-packed with shots of glitter and acid tones.
Designed by: Tamuna Ingorokva
With a penchant for: Androgynous shapes and modest, timeless designs. Think Annie Hall, but more polished.
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tbilisi FW17 takes place from 4 till 8 May 2017.