Tbilisi has been turning heads as Europe’s possible next capital for emerging designers for the last year or so now, thanks in no small part to the ascent of a Georgian by the name of Demna Gvasalia. Back at home in the capital, though, there hadn’t really been a space to revel in all that post-Soviet glory until this summer, when four twentysomethings embedded in the scene took matters into their own hands. In June, Nini Nebieridze, Salome Bezarashvili, Nina Botchorishvili, and Gola Damian opened up Chaos Concept Store, making for the first spot to gather Georgia’s most exciting new designers in one place, alongside more established but equally buzzy international brands.
Chaos, though, is much more than a shopping destination. The group’s mission was also to create another space they felt was missing from the city, a mecca for the city’s like-minded, fashion- and art-following youth to hang out, and exchange their more out-there ideas. And while that’s immediately clear from the double bed mattress, ping pong table, and skate ramp found once you step inside, the vibe is even apparent from the outside of the loft-like space.
Technically located on a stretch of one of Tbilisi’s main thoroughfares that is lined with stores stocked with Gucci and even Gvasalia’s Balenciaga knockoffs, the entrance is actually around the corner, through a rough stone exterior and up a stairwell graffitied with playful slogans like "punk is not bad" and "skate or pie." Equally cheeky is the hot pink neon with the cursive message “Sometimes we watch porn” visible from the façade of the building – a former Soviet editorial office, which is also home to Rooms Hotel, the city's crown jewel of interior design, which hosts most of the shows in the first of Tbilisi’s fashion weeks. Yes, the scene is vibrant enough that there are two, with the second phase ending Tuesday.
From there, the perhaps poorly translated, but more likely simply gleefully provocative messages continue: lining the racks are items by brands like the cult Ukrainian designer Anton Belinskiy, including a knit top emblazoned with the phrase “poor but cool,” and a line of t-shirts and hats everyone in the scene now seems to own by Gola Damian, which read “virgin prostitute.” The space is named Chaos, after all.
Young Georgians in the skate, art, and fashion scenes make for both the clientele and the shopkeepers, the latter of which wear brands like Palace and lounge freely on the mattress at the center of the store’s floor. There are the visitors to Rooms Hotel, too, along with an artier crowd that comes round for the store’s regular art exhibits in its adjoining, skate ramp-adorned space.
Emerging Georgian labels like George Keburia, LTFR, Nicolas Gregorian, Nik O Nik, and Gola Damian (one of the founders), which the store also collaborates with, alongside producing its own brand. International brands are definitely spoken for, too, like House of Holland and Maryam Nassir Zadeh, along with streetwear brands like GCDS.
Conceived by the Chaos Concept team as a minimalistic space with white walls, wooden floors, and windows stretching nearly floor to ceiling, putting the focus on their stand-out additions like the mattress.
Pièce de Résistance
The double mattress at the center of the floor, which immediately establishes Chaos' hang-out vibe. But there's also the skateboard ramp in the adjoining hallway, constructed by the gang at the center of last year’s acclaimed Tbilisi skate documentary, When the Earth Seems to Be Light, which is occasionally cleared out for temporary art exhibits. The cashier kiosk is also worth a mention: Transactions are made through a former Soviet shed that the shop owners found on the street.
Ranging from 100 to 3,000 Georgian Lari, or roughly $50 to $1,500.
14 Merab Kostava Street, Tbilisi, Georgia.
For those who prefer to shop from home
The website, chaosconceptstore.com, is currently under construction, but Chaos' Instagram gives an inside look at the store's new stock, plus the ever-interesting goings-on inside.