It was my first time visiting Tbilisi. I had no expectations, but to meet my cousin and explore the Georgia she knew. I was eager to experience everything about the country: the food, the people, the nature and the fashion. It was Mercedes Benz Fashion Week the same week I arrived. We were outside the trendy Rooms hotel where a black Mercedes read “Mercedes Benz Fashion Week” on its immaculate black shiny exterior. My heart fell into my stomach as I immediately started to research if it was true. As my waking hours met sunrise that night, I reached out to Founder and Creative Director of GeoFashionLab, Makka Khutsishvili.
GeoFashionLab is an online luxury boutique showcasing premium and upcoming Georgian designers in a global market. Founder and self- taught designer, Makka, created this space to create an exclusive shopping experience where “fashionistas” can find unparalleled style in limited quantities (because no fashionista wants to wear what you can have). Designers include Eloshi, Ani Datukishvili, U.G.L.Y (You Gotta Love Yourself), Atelier Marta and other noteworthy labels.
Models Mariam Tsukilashvili and Doo Khutsishvili are wearing sandals by Nini Patsatsia and earrings by jewellery designer Gateo throughout photos. Handbags by 11:11. Photo courtesy by Makka.
History is embedded in the fashion scene of Tbilisi; if you’re a world citizen, the subject matter is imperative to understand. Tbilisi is the capital and largest city in Georgia. It sits in the Caucasus region of Armenia and Azerbaijan and was under Soviet Rule for 70 years. In April of 1991, it declared its independence as the Republic of Georgia and has undergone civil war and economic crisis. The aftermath of the post-soviet era stimulated an iconoclastic society where fashion and culture coincide. Head designer of Vetements, Demna Gvasalia, symbolized various counterculture and nostalgic elements throughout his Summer 2019 show at venue Bassiani. He capsuled Tbilisi’s “raveolution” after invasions of armed officials raided the underground venue earlier this May. Symbols of the Georgian flag and hashtag “We dance together, we fight together” phrase demonstrated Gvasalia’s response to the political climate and perhaps, progressive change.
The future is foreseeable for GeoFashionLab. It’s the first Georgian online luxury shopping destination in the Caucasus region that features Georgian designer ready-to-wear with an editorial rhetoric. Possibly the next Eurasian Net-A-Porter, Makka is continuously building her e-boutique and establishing its repertoire through fundamental tactics including in-house photo shoots, keynote speeches, collaborating with influencers, attending community events and producing authentic content to reach an international audience. Makka once said to me: “I live by Natalie Massenet’s quote: ‘Success begins at the magical moment when you declare to yourself, your friends, and the universe that you believe you can do something different.’"
I personally believe GeoFashionLab will takeoff and reach international recognition. It’s only a matter of time when the platform will get its big break. I am excited to see how Makka will transcend content and culture throughout her site as she continues to acquire more designers. Who knows, the crème de la crème like Avtandil, Tamuna Ingorokva, Keti Chkikvadze and Diana Qvavariani may find their next real estate on the premium platform. There's also great potential for a strong digital presence that will help shape its marketing and editorial efforts. I also believe if there was a fashion lifetime achievement award for the most entrepreneurial and business savvy woman in Georgia, it would go to Makka.