By Gayane Ghazaryan
Special to the Mirror-Spectator
YEREVAN — Some may think of Armenian fashion as being fairly conservative, especially when they associate it with the traditional famous carpets. Ask a member of the older generation who lived under Soviet role and they would tell you about extraordinary Armenians they knew who expressed themselves creating outfits from scratch. Later, because of the limited market, every neighborhood in the newly-independent Armenia had its own little fleet of couturiers, the fans of the most popular fashion magazines of the time. Each magazine was virtually priceless and used to travel from fan to fan. The famous Vernissage market in the late 1990s carried some of those well-loved magazines. So what is happening in the local fashion industry today?
Three years ago, the very first concept store that was selling different clothing made by more than 50 Armenian designers in Yerevan opened. Now there are 3 main multi-brand designer shops, 5 Concept, Cocos Island and Made. The stores contain clothing lines, jewellery and accessories. The biggest one of them is 5 Concept, which gives opportunities to cooperate and display their creations to every designer wishing to do so.
Another big step forward was in 2017 when the Fashion and Design Chamber of Armenia (FDC) was established, the very first organization aiming to develop the fashion industry and encourage designers to overcome the challenges they face. FDC is also trying to educate the new generation as much as possible by including a lot of assistance from international specialists. It started changing history with the birth of the annual fashion forum in Yerevan in June 2018, which gathered not only designers, but students, journalists and photographers.
Since we lack a proper fashion education in Armenia, it is the greatest chance for all the fashion figures to be involved in the forum and expand their horizons in the sphere. For the most part, the industry only exists in the capital; however, the FDC is working on spreading fashion in other cities, too. Recently, new little ateliers have popped out outside of the capital for clothes as well as jewelry. For example, in Vanadzor, there are two young women who carefully choose materials and fabrics to create pieces that mirror their inner worlds. However, it is a bit more challenging for them to put their works out there, since they do not have enough opportunities and products. But on the bright side, the FDC has already started gradually expanding the fashion industry both in and beyond Yerevan.