“That was the goal, to be an incubator,” says brand manager Rusa Janashia. “When it started, there was nothing going on in Tbilisi, and it was [a] big [deal] to create a house employing Georgian designers. What Matériel does is give a platform to [them], help them grow and launch their own businesses.”
The brand’s revenue grew from €250,000 (about $280,000) in 2018 to a projected €1.5 million for 2019 ($1.68 million), and it counts Browns and Moda Operandi as stockists. It has also expanded its micro-empire to concept store Dots, which re-uses the fabrics and styles not used at Matériel at a lower and more accessible price point.
In the future, Janashia hopes to create a designer collective — similar to the business model of many of today’s streetwear brands, where a group of designers create collections – and become somewhat of a local fashion school, something still missing from the Georgian design scene. Until now, most of the leading designers have attended a non-specialist fashion school called Tbilisi State Academy of Arts.