Monday, February 6, 2012

Advice Corner: Finding Vintage Clothing in Tbilisi

Despite my love-hate relationship with England, one area in which I can genuinely admit that England excels is the realm of the charity shop. Each town, neighborhood high street, or village is lined with at least 3-4 Oxfams, Cancer Research UKs, Barnardo's, and/or Save the Childrens devoted to selling donors' castoffs at bargain-basement prices in order to raise money for a worthwhile cause. While I fully intend to elaborate on my intricate anthropological findings based on charity-shop-donor evidence (Oxford's full of feminist Virago modern classics and used ball gowns; Chester has surprisingly good books and surprisingly nondescript clothing; everybody seems to throw away DH Lawrence and Thomas Hardy books, shoes from "Your Feet Look Gorgeous" appear in nearly every charity shop in the UK), for now suffice to say that any town where one can scoop up a genuine Brooks Brothers raincoat for 12 pounds is well worth living in.
Agmashenebeli St

How, then, to continue my passion for scavenging in Tbilisi? For bric-a-brac, the Dry Bridge market is unbeatable, but often the clothing is on the shabby end of the shabby-chic continuum. Yet throughout Sololaki, Avlabari, and Vera, there are hundreds of unmarked clothing stores (often a single front room without organization, price tags, or electric lighting), run by women with minimal English and a strong disinclination towards order.

How, then, to scoop up treasures? Do not despair - gentle reader - in my infinite mercy, I have personally scoured these rooms in the Old Town and discovered a wide variety of finds.

Fitted designer leather jacket - 50 lari.
Necklace about 20 lari from Dry Bridge.
Cotton blazer, 25 lari.
Scarf 10 lari.
The most "accessible" vintage clothing store is on the Atoneli St Market between Orbeliani and 9 April Parks (behind Rustaveli avenue towards the river). It's near the flower market, on the Rustaveli side of the street, under the arcade. The clothing proper is a bit on the "naff" side (although they do have a quite fetching/dapper selection of Old School felt hats), but they have a makeshift changing room, some English, and a genuine/good quality selection of Nike trainers (50 lari for a gorgeous, like-new, high-quality pair). The prices are far from the lowest in Tbilisi, but the hats are well worth trying on. The area of Sololaki closest to Baratashvili bridge also have a few promising-looking places.

For quality, however, the absolute best vintage clothing stores I've found are clustered on the Saarbrucken Square side of David Agmashenebeli Ave (cross the Dry Bridge bridge, turn left across the square, walk five minutes). There are about 5-6 shops - all unmarked and otherwise contrary - that have a phenomenal selection of women's blazers, scarfs, and leather: It takes a fair bit of digging, but in a single afternoon I went home with the two pictured blazers and scarf, a black Sisley blazer (!) for 25 lari, an additional "military"-inspired knit+leather zip-up jacket, and an additional matching black scarf, all for prices comparable to a mid-range Oxford charity shop.

Please let me know if you've found any others in the comments - and happy hunting!


Steve Finnell said...

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Lauren jonczak said...

My newest obsession is going to vintage clothing stores and finding the oldest piece of clothing that I can find and adding it to a newer modern outfit that I already have.