Tbilisi Fashion Week Takes a Step Into a Sustainable Future

With the announcement that the fashion week wouldn’t be printing out any invitations and installing the powerful “We must take care of nature” slogan all across its social media, the 18th edition of Tbilisi Fashion Week, Georgia’s most established fashion event, kicked off with a showcase of local and international new voices. 

Lasha Devdariani Spring/Summer 2019 presentation in Tbilisi. Photos: Courtesy of Tbilisi Fashion Week. 

Upcycling is one of the main topics of every collection from Georgian designer Lasha Devdariani. “My collections are always bohemian, ethnic, colourful, and poetic. I use always unique ethnic textiles; the fabrics for me are very important,” the designer explained when describing his SS19 collection. “This season, I worked with Chinese vintage silk as the embroidery on them is very unique. In this scarf, for example, there is the Georgian alphabet print as I also used all vintage Georgian silk.”

Lasha’s garments are also usually one of a kind, as the designer explains: “I think my collections are not typical fashion; my garments are always limited edition due to my choice of fabrics and because most of the prints are vintage.”

Devdariani is not alone when it comes to slow production of his collections. Ukrainian designer Luba Makarenko, founder of the now established and promising brand Sayya, explains that her collections are also all produced in her atelier in Kiev. Her choice of textiles and raw materials for the Spring/Summer 2019 collection is also a conscious one, as she explains, “I worked mainly with linen, silk, organza, and ecological leather.” “The printed scarves and the shoes are also all hand made by our team in our atelier,” she adds. 

Same goes for Yana Miravieva, co-designer of the Russian brand Miro, who also produces all embroidery and accessories in the brand’s atelier currently located in Moscow. “I made all the embroidery and the bags of the collection myself,” the designer mentioned backstage at the her show during the first day of Tbilisi Fashion Week. “I design always with the intention of making timeless pieces; my garments are for women who do not change their style very often.” 

Sayya Spring/Summer 2019 show in Tbilisi. Photo: Courtesy of Tbilisi Fashion Week. 

Following the concept of "the more the merrier," Rosella May, a British designer who presented her latest collection during London Fashion Week a few weeks before showcasing it again in Tbilisi, bets on a collaborative take on the future of fashion as well as a more socially conscious approach to her collections and her brand: “This season is based around mental health, and every season moving forward will be inspired by that. Because I really believe it is a very important matter. Just by looking at the clothes you wouldn’t tell where the inspiration comes from and that was my intention. I want people to reach out and ask about it.”

Her looks are presented with Veja sneakers, a French-Brazilian shoe brand that has already established its name as an innovator in terms of ethical production and the use of vegan-friendly leather. “When I have my own store, I want to be able to stock their shoes alongside my brand because it just works; they look really good together. I also really like what they stand for,” said May when I asked about her agreement with Veja. 

Rosella May Spring/Summer 2019 show in Tbilisi. Photos: Courtesy of Tbilisi Fashion Week. 

Keti Chkhikvadze, which is one of Tbilisi's most established designers, also affirms that sustainability is a constant inspiration for her collections. “Sustainability is a very important aspect of every industry, so it is also in fashion. The main concept of my current collection is ecology, but sustainability is part of my style and I keep it in mind during all the process of making my collections.”

Keti Chkhikvadze Spring/Summer 2019 show in Tbilisi. Photos: Courtesy of Tbilisi Fashion Week. 

When it comes to the manufacturing of fabrics and the sourcing of raw materials, Georgia, who was once known as a great producer of silk, is it still considered under development. But, according to Tako Chkheidze, the founder and creative mastermind behind Tbilisi Fashion Week, the way towards development is not to make Georgia a great industrial pole, but instead to encourage local designers to become greener. “All the designers who showcased in this edition of the Fashion Week are happy and in accord with this idea, but we need to develop the sustainable movement further. We are thinking of starting to source eco materials especially for them in order to help them take the first step in order to have all the collections presented here at Tbilisi Fashion Week made of eco materials. We know that is not an easy process, but we’ll do our best to make it reality.”