New East Digital Archive

MATÉRIEL Tbilisi: the fashion factory behind Georgia’s stylistic evolution

This repurposed Soviet industrial hub provides young designers with everything they need to realise their visions, from textiles to business acumen

31 October 2017

In the last few years, the global fashion community has witnessed the rapid rise of the Georgian design scene, and Tbilisi-based company MATÉRIEL plays an indispensable part in this ongoing growth. MATÉRIEL was created in 2012 on the foundations of Fashion House Materia, one of the biggest textile producers in the USSR, that dated back to 1949. While the Soviet heritage in Georgia is often a question of complex history, MATÉRIEL is a unique example of repurposing pre-existing infrastructure to nurture a new wave of creativity.

Connected to the larger enterprises which produce practical textile garments, like uniforms, MATÉRIEL is focused on the new generation of home-grown design talents. The company provides designers with everything they need to create a collection: production facilities, raw materials, labour, PR support — alongside the kinds of experience and business skills not taught at any university in Georgia. Almost all the designers currently working on their own labels in Tbilisi have gone through MATÉRIEL, a fact that also contributes to creating a sense of kinship on the scene.

Under its roof, MATÉRIEL unites creators with different takes on the craft, remaining equally committed to a combination of artistic vision, quality and wearability. Lado Bokuchava’s strengths are draping and movement in combination with complex storytelling; Tiko Paksa offers a playful yet bold take on femininity; Like Chitaia has her approach to wardrobe essentials; and Aleksandre Akhalkatsishvili serves up sleek minimalism. Drawing the attention of the international press, the collections, most importantly, succedd in finding consumers: they are available both at the company’s store in Old Tbilisi (alongside MATÉRIEL’s more practical and affordable range Dots) and online, delivered worldwide.