georgian design lives on | mbfw tbilisi

COVID-19 has brought much of the fashion world to a standstill but you wouldn’t know it looking at Tbilisi’s fashion scene. The Georgian capital’s explosive rise as a fashion hub has been well-documented and widely admired over the years, thanks in large part to the tireless efforts of one Sofia Tchkonia. As the founder of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Tbilisi, Tchkonia has turned the world’s eyes onto the city, showing them the beauty and talent contained within its borders. When Schön! interviewed Tchkonia back in 2015, her passion was already clear. When we returned to the week for SS2020, the seeds of her passion had grown into a fully-formed and stunning production.

As Georgian talents gain traction worldwide, Tchkonia has uncovered another need in the Tbilisi fashion community: Space. According to current plans, she will be launching an Art & Culture Center in an ex-Coca-Cola factory building ahead of MBFW Tbilisi’s return in the fall. The enormous space will connect designers, journalists, craftspeople, photographers, and industry professionals of all kinds in a central location in Tbilisi, offering them a space to collaborate, exhibit, develop their projects, and more. To that end, MBFW Tbilisi will now take place in this new space, giving the week a permanent industrial location.

Ahead of the space’s opening, Schön! is taking a look at some of the recent output from Tbilisi-based labels. One of those labels is Lalo, a Georgian knitwear label producing unique handmade pieces. Lalo was a standout from our SS2020 coverage, and their continued output proves their strength as a brand. Each piece is rich in character, setting the brand apart and keeping us endlessly interested.

Materiel is one of the most successful brands to come out of Tbilisi. The label brings together a range of Georgian designers to craft their pieces, with designers bringing staples of Georgian heritage to life with trademark minimalism and care. The resulting looks evoke ideas of both Georgian high culture and the reality of the streets. 

Describing its work as “retro-futuristic,” JANASHIA creates works with feet planted firmly between two worlds. Blending light and heavy materials, collections under the JANASHIA are richly textured, incorporating everything from sheers to thick weaves and thin metal chains.

Established in 2015, VASKA has distinguished itself by releasing pieces imbued with a romantic and sensual spirit. Designer Vasil Tabatadze originally trained as an architect, obtaining a degree from the Tbilisi State Academy of Arts. The experience, he says, helped him “perceive patterns and cubes more easily. I am starting to think about construction, before painting the sketch.” This is clear in his designs, with each piece distinctly and elegantly tailored. 

See more from MBFW Tbilisi on its website.

words. Braden Bjella

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