It’s been about five years since Vetements made its official debut at Paris Fashion Week, thrusting designer Demna Gvasalia — as well as his native country Georgia — into the industry spotlight. Within a year, the label was shortlisted for an LVMH Prize, influenced the street style crowd during fashion month, impacted retailers’ buying strategies and landed Gvasalia the top artistic director role at Balenciaga.

Gvasalia’s success is still on the rise, and all along the way, attention towards Georgia’s capital of Tbilisi has transformed it into the world’s most exciting fashion destination, from tourism and shopping to street style and editorial expansion. And if you think the Caucasus country’s fashion relevancy might wane sometime soon, think again: Gvasalia recently dedicated Vetements’s Spring 2019 collection entirely to Georgia.

“His collections stirred curiosity in the history and culture of the region,” says Fashion News Writer Liana Satenstein in a previous interview with Fashionista. “The country has a fledgling group of talents, and Gvasalia just helped shine the light on them.”

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One of the platforms that continues to showcase Georgia’s local talent is Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tbilisi, launched in 2015 by Sofia Tchkonia — a Fashion Fairy Godmother of sorts, as a number of designers we spoke to have consistently brought up her dedication to championing the former Soviet republic’s creative scene. “We don’t have natural resources — no gas, no oil, nothing,” says Tchkonia. “We only have creativity, which we have to promote. Fashion in Georgia is kind of becoming a signature. That’s what we want to make and that’s why I started this project. The country will be associated with fashion, creativity and talented people. It won’t only be politics.”

Now in its eighth season, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tbilisi welcomes editors, influencers and buyers from around the world, hoping to catch the next up-and-coming designer or fashion trend out of Tbilisi. With so much attention, as well as Tchkonia’s help, Georgian designers are inspired to create for a more international audience, but can their brands actually, finally go global? According to the emerging market’s designers and creatives, there’s still more that can be done on a local level.


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