Do you remember how important Japan was to fashion in the 1980s? Well, perhaps you don’t, as maybe you weren’t born yet, but then there’s a chance that you have read about when Miyake, Kenzo, Yamamoto and Kawakubo placed Tokyo on the fashion map and inspired everyone from NYC to Milano. Right now, there’s a new movement of new fashion designers from Georgia, who are really shaking up the fashion world with different and fresh ideas.
Since the 80s, fashion has flirted and briefly extracted inspiration from almost every possible corner of the world, but such a strong and persisting influence hasn’t been seen since then. Today new, upcoming designers emerge from everywhere, and good schools in the big fashion capitals train a lot of new talent every single season presented in prestigious fashion shows.
Not all, and not a lot of new designers will still be around in 10 years, as it’s limited how many new designers the world actually need and can foster. So where will the new talents come from – the ones who are (hopefully) going to make it?
I will never take the standpoint that ‘Everything in fashion has been done’, but certain places leave a lot more of invention to be done than others. Unlike Milano, Paris, NYC etc. not every place has a long fashion history of their own with certain ways of dressing – codes that you can follow or challenge according to your own style.
Some places still need to invent, what you would call modern fashion, which is very different to traditional fashion culture, though a modern version would definitely be rooted in it. This is a very exciting situation, both for the designers who are going to take a lead in defining a new chapter, as well as customers, who like independent designers.
The first time I visited Georgia was in 2013. I went to Tbilisi to take part of the jury in the Be Next fashion competition for upcoming talents. There was a lot of interesting design, and speaking to the designers, a lot of them mentioned a huge admiration for Yamamoto and Margiela. This was exciting but also surprising, as a lot of the upcoming designers, I spoke to back in Europe spoke about Lanvin, Dior or Chanel, when mentioning their admiration. Back in London, only occasionally would I come across a young designer mentioning these more conceptual designers, though of course everyone was aware of their work. Apparently, here, something else was happening – including even more black than I used to see anywhere else.
I have now followed the work of Georgian fashion designers for some seasons, and lately Tbilisi fashion week took place for the very first time, sponsored by Mercedes-Benz, and this marks a new and refreshing spot on the fashion map. One of the key people behind is Sofia Tchkonia, founder of also Be Next fashion competition, as well as Art Georgia. Always dressed in black herself, she embodies Georgian fashion, and has a strong vision of helping Georgian fashion take off.
There’s something exciting happening, and it’s the new fashion designers from Georgia. Something that feels new, fresh and inspiring – and desirable. Why? Because it’s different to what we use to see. Because they have something special of their own. Something that I could imagine that a lot of people will find very desirable – just like I do.
Follow Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tbilisi here.
Cover photo by Keti Chkhikvadze