Interview by Alberto Gange cofounder zoemagazine.net
Sofia Tchkonia is the under-the-radar founder of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tbilisi. She is responsible for networking and promoting Georgian fashion abroad, which has brought a wave of prominent international guests — from editors-in-chief of international editions of Vogue to buyers from Net-a-Porter and Moda Operandi — to the country, in search of the next Demna Gvasalia .
But Sofia is above all a friend. I met her about ten years ago in Paris and since then she has been my mentor on all the revolutions in the world of fashion. She has a special insight as only the great can have and more than once she has confirmed to me that she has seen ahead on the transformations of this sector. I wrote to her during the pandemic to get her opinion and her predictions about the future.
In the last year, the fashion world, like other sectors, has also experienced an upheaval, a change, due to Covid.
Certainly it will be necessary to resist and overcome this crisis, but you who have always managed to see forward, what do you see for the world of fashion globally for this 2021?
I think it will be hard year for the fashion brands, especially small brands and for the designers from the smaller countries like Georgia for example. Pandemic changed us and will change even more, our habits are changing, our approach to many things but I hope these changes will bring us only positivity in future.
Your support has been fundamental to give a certainty and a global dimension to the Georgian designers, with Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tbilisi.
A continuous and permanent work with the aim of shedding light on many talents who had and need to be appreciated by the international public. Despite this situation we are in now, are you satisfied with the results obtained so far?
We’ve managed to put spotlight on Georgian fashion in recent years. It was not easy but with very hard work of our team and the designers we tried our best. I am happy that people know more and more about Georgia through fashion and this was the aim, to introduce our country through creativity. Now we have to manage the crisis and try to support Georgian fashion designers and not only. We are a littlie bit far from the satisfaction, we have many challenges ahead and we need teamwork more than ever.
Did BeNext Foundation play a fundamental and central role in this process of evolution of the world of Georgian designers?
I really hope so as a lot of designers started with our contest. This year we are planning the contest, but unfortunately online. We hope to
discover more and more interesting, talented designers and support them.
The eye of the world’s most authoritative media and fashion journalists on Tbilisi has certainly highlighted the beauties that characterize Georgia. Do you think fashion and tourism are an important “trend union” to attract tourists to Georgia?
I think that for the tourist attraction fashion week is the best tool. More and more people were coming to Tbilisi during fashion week and last year, before the Pandemic, we had more than ever international guests who came themselves, without our invitation, to Tbilisi. To attend the shows, see the city, go to the clubs , attend parties and many more. Fashion is the best ambassador for the country and it has to be one of the priorities for the government.
Is your role often also a talent scout ? What strikes you the most about a designer; what does it mean for you to recognize a talent among aspiring stylists?
Hard to say. I feel the talent immediately and I love to discover new talents. I think you can see it immediately if this designer is born to be a designer or just wants to have fun.
Returning to the current global situation, it is indisputable to say that all this has brought about a profound change in the way people live and interact. Fashion has always managed to interpret time through the expressiveness and creativity of designers. Do you think this situation will leave an indelible mark on the way of thinking of the fashion system?
I hope this situation will bring the changes in fashion as well. I really hope that more attention will be paid to the young, unknown talents and they will receive much more support.
How are Mercedes Benz Fashion Weet Tbilisi and BeNext Foundation adapting to organize the next editions?
It sad but online. We are working now on the next edition of digital Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tbilisi and I really hope it will be interesting than previous fashion week which was kind of an experiment for us. Physical presence of the international guests is so important for us but it will come back for sure and we will make a big celebration.
A key word for the future? Your keyword.
Try to be positive and try hard to make happy people around you, supportive as much as possible to make our world a little bit better place to live.