If you happen to notice the growing amount of pictures of the little city Tbilisi on your Instagram feed, that’s not a coincidence. Georgia and Tbilisi specifically are transforming into a fashion Mecca, thus increasing the number of tourists and becoming the number one destination for travelers. How did this all start? The answer is- with the social protests against Russia and its politics.
The constant protest of Georgians against Russian foreign policy made Georgia visible on the international political arena, but at the same time, it made Georgia visible on the other levels too, both culturally and socially. As a result of this interest, the number of Georgian designers abroad and tourists wanting to travel to Georgia increased. It initiated the massive social movement #SpendYourSummerInGeorgia which attracted thousands of tourists.
So what do we have now? We have a beautiful country with a unique culture you can spend your vacation and get amazing memories. If you happen to be attracted to socially conscious people and want to roam around the city with beautiful shopping destinations, here is your guide to the local shops you should visit while being in Tbilisi.
Let’s Start From The Flea Markets.
If you happen to be as passionate about finding unexpected things in a pile of… let’s call it garbage…, as I am, you definitely should check local flea markets out. Going there is like going on an archeological expedition. You don’t know what treasure you might find. You can find several flea markets in Tbilisi. First and probably the most popular is Dry Bridge. The hotspot for tourists and hipsters is a place where you can find amazing items of Antiques, Soviet propaganda posters or medals, jewelry, china, second-hand junk, vinyl, old vintage photos and much more.
If this treasure hunt is not enough for you, check out the flea market at Deda Ena Park. Here, when it’s sunny weather, a community of talented people gathers and sell their handmade items.
Not many people know. It’s kind of the hidden staircase, but there is another flea market just 5 minutes from the metro station of Samgori. It’s not as diverse as Dry Bridge and the one at Deda Ena Park, but you can find some interesting pieces from time to time here and there and at pretty low prices. Not to mention lots of great products in the Farmers Market section.
Moving On to the Fashion Section.
If you want to plunge into local fashion, here are the stores you’ll want to check out.
Materiel is a Fashion House and one of the oldest apparel manufacturers and retailers in Georgia. Materiel features the seasonal collections of the young aspiring Georgian designers who create them seasonally specifically for Materiel. For now, it includes the collection of three Georgian designers: Aleksandre Akhalkatsishvili, Lika Chitaia, and Lado Bokuchava.
Dots is a branch of a Materiel and offers customers a wide variety of the accessories created by Georgian designers.
If you’re in love with traditional clothes but want to be able to wear them as modern clothes, Samoseli Pirveli store is just the right place for you. This store offers customers traditional Georgian clothes redesigned as modern items.
The Flying Painter
The Flying Painter located at Fabrika is another store that sells exclusively Georgian designer stuff. Their own collection is sewn on site. Flying Painter also has a notable collection of original 1980s women’s wear that was salvaged from the Fabrika factory during renovations.
What are the traditional edible souvenirs in Georgia? Chacha, wine, churchkhela, and tea.
Khurjini offers a wide variety of local food from spices to wine and chacha and much more. Everything here is natural and locally sourced.
Badagi is a place where you can find fresh and healthy Georgian churchkhela and not only that: tea and Georgian spices are also available here.
According to the Google review, 8000 is one of the most reputable places for wine tasting and offers an astonishing quantity of wine.
Winery Khareba is another place that offers a good quality of wine tasting and has many local sorts of wine.
Here is a list of stores and places if you want to buy authentic Georgian souvenirs.
The whole Meidan Bazaar is worth checking out even if you don’t plan to buy anything. It’s a beautiful place with many stores of mostly local designers who sell amazing traditional Georgian souveniers: lurji supra- the famous blue and white tablecloths, pieces that contain enamelware and felted textiles.
One of the coolest places in Tbilisi, Fabrika Courtyard contains many stores oriented on showcasing the local designers. For instance, Black Dog has a wide range of Soviet propaganda posters; Ceramic studio 1300 makes hand-painted tableware; Funduki is a store of handmade furniture.
Gallery 27 is another place where you can find amazing stuff from local designers: stained glass, patchwork, wall hangings, knitted items and many more.
As above mentioned stores, EthnoDesign also offers a wide range of handmade, topnotch stuff, but the difference is that this stuff is from designers who live in different regions. So you have a more sophisticated look at what Georgian culture in regions looks like.
P.S Are you interested in social movements in Georgia? Check out this article