Mercedes-Benz Tbilisi Fashion Week probably has the most buzz of any fashion week off the major New York-London-Milan-Paris circuit – and for good reason.
In addition to boasting noteworthy street style and cool local design talent, there’s also a vibrant shopping scene in the Georgian capital.
From a flea market boasting Soviet-era vintage to a concept shop run by high school students, here are six stores you need to check out.
In between the shows this past week, we spent some time researching and checking out some of the preferred retail haunts of fashionable Georgian locals. Here’s our insider’s guide for where to go for everything from homegrown luxury goods to handmade ceramics and Soviet-era vintage wear.
Chaos, a vast, industrial-style concept store launched by locals Gola Damian, Nini Nebieridze, Salome Bezarashvili and Nina Botchorishvili, is nestled in between two of Tbilisi’s hippest boutique hotels: Rooms and the just-opened Stamba. The store is just cool, both in its look (there’s a skate ramp inside) and buy (think street-ready local and London-based high-end labels). Look for neon Matrix-style Marques Almeida specs, leopard print full-length Shrimps faux fur, and graphic tees designed by Damian himself. The hotels next door, each with a kind of Wes Anderson-meets-Eastern Europe aesthetic, are perfect places to unwind post-shop with a passionfruit gin cocktail or a glass of house-made rosé.
Dry Bridge Market
Dry Bridge has a place in the heart and history of Tbilisi. The open-air flea market used to be the place where citizens would go to sell odds and ends and scrap together cash during Soviet times. Now, it’s a goldmine for vintage Soviet everything. “You buy paintings, different things, handmade stuff, glasses, stuff like that,” said local designer Lako Bukia. “It’s where I go for unique stuff.” Look for everything from old Georgian maps to antique silver jewelry to vintage typewriters and glass wear. Be ready to haggle.
More is Love
More is Love is the place to go for contemporary local Georgian designers. The showroom boasts a feminine, playful buy, with looks from local designers like Nina Zarqua (look for colorful feathered mules) and Babukhadia (think military-inspired separates), as well as the likes of Ukranian LVMH Prize finalist Anna October, Moscow’s Walk of Shame, and others. The shop also has an extensive online store, so you can shop from abroad.
Wasted Concept Store
Wasted is about as DIY as it gets. The shop is owned by six Georgian high school students who stole plywood from the streets, scoured around for clothing racks, and borrowed art from friends and family to transform the three-room basement space into a proper clothing shop. The girls officially opened Wasted a year and a half ago. What will you find there? Carefully hunted vintage from flea markets outside of the city, including worn-in bomber jackets, hoodies in every shade, and multi-colored fishnets.
Margo Skate Shop
Margo is the first skate shop in Georgia. Located inside Fabrika, a former sewing factory-turned-hostel and concept market, the store stocks brands like Deluxe, Bakerboys and NHS. It also has its own collabs, and one of the owners is also the director of the post-Soviet skate documentary “When Earth Seems to Be Light.” In a time when fashion loves to appropriate skate culture, this store has an especially authentic air.
Taso Gomelauri and Irina Jibuti make ceramics in the back of their sunlit shop, Ceramics 1300. If the store was in Brooklyn, the pieces would be pricey and probably mass-produced; but here in Tbilisi, you can buy a hand-thrown and hand-glassed vase in subtle, off-kilter coloring for a reasonable price. Find everything from glass wear to ornamental pieces of plating here. Like Margo Skate, Ceramics 1300 is part of the Fabrika family. Walk around the space and take in live music, a pop-up art exhibition, or grab a bite across the patio.