The Tbilisi kids tearing up the Georgia skate scene
Featuring kickflips, post-Soviet asphalt and fresh fashion from Tamra Skateboards
Photos: Levan Maisuradze
This article was originally published by i-D Germany
Tamuna Karumidze is best known for her documentaries. Her most celebrated work, 2015's When the Earth Seems to Be Light, captures the life of young skaters in Georgia. “Skaters remind me of warriors,” says Tamuna. “Every time they jump off somewhere they know they'll probably get hurt but they get up again.” It's this fearless mentality that inspired the Georgian to launch her own fashion brand Tamra. Her very first show was only three years ago at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tbilisi where she also presented her latest collection a few weeks ago. “In the beginning I always imagined the skaters wearing my clothes,” says Tamuna. “The pieces always need to be comfortable, you have to be able to move in them.”
Even though Georgia's skate scene is still in its infancy, Tamuna and her fashion label are filling a void that the community desperately needs. "For this group of kids, it's important that they have someone to support them – in their thinking and lifestyle," explains the designer. That's one of the reasons she founded Troublemakerz , a modelling agency that represents the skate community in Georgia. "We wanted to create a structure to protect the kids," says Tamuna. "Everyone always thinks skaters are in for trouble, but in fact they're the nicest guys who do not do anything wrong."
Sandro Popkhadze, 21
Tell us a bit about Tamra Skateboards .
It's not just about selling boards and clothes to the kids, first and foremost it's about the kids themselves. We wanted them to be part of something. In the beginning, we only made a few t-shirts and boards until the skate community in Georgia grew bigger and bigger. Ten years ago, when we started, there were only about ten skaters across the country. At that time you could not even order boards from abroad, but you had to hit your uncle in Russia. Now the kids have more options, especially with the internet – you can just watch a tutorial on how to do a kickflip.
Would you say Tbilisi is a good place for skating?
Actually, yes. There are many places from the post-Soviet period, all very close to each other. The city may be a bit rougher than others. Everything is old, dirty and you will hurt yourself, but we accept that. We use bigger rolls because of the potholes and the bad asphalt.
What does freedom mean to you?
For us, freedom means skating. That's why people do sports. At the moment, they only think about how your body moves. Everything else around you disappears, including your problems. Although the freedom may last only for a short while, it is these two seconds a day when you land a trick that will make you happier than anything else.
What do you especially like about Tbilisi?
The Skate Park, although I think it's a pity that there is only one of them. So many young kids go into each other constantly, that's why sometimes the parents come over and cause problems. This is a bit annoying.
How do people react to skaters?
Many adults say things like 'you're going to break your neck' or 'you will not do anything with it in life'. They think it's childish, but it's so much more. Of course, there are also people who support us. That's inspiring!
When was the last time you were proud of yourself?
My mother went to Israel to work, so I grew up with my dad and spent most of my time on my own. I am really proud of myself that everything worked so well. There have been many situations to go on the wrong track, but I have stayed strong.
Nika Bregadze, 13
What motivates you to go skateboarding every day?
Watching skateboarding videos, but the good ones from Thrasher Magazine. I started just eight months ago and never thought I would go beyond the basics.
Do you have a hero?
Tyshawn Jones .
Which places do you like best in Tbilisi?
It is generally a small, cozy city full of good people and cool places like Fabrika. There are not a lot of people skating, so we welcome anyone who wants to join us. Everyone is friendly here.
Aleksandre Gabunia, 16
What's the best thing about your generation?
To be honest, I do not see a distinction in generations. It does not matter to me. I feel comfortable with all people, no matter how old they are.
Have you ever been afraid to hurt yourself with a trick?
Of course, but I'm not trying to think about it. If you are afraid, you will achieve nothing. For example, if you jump down the stairs, you are suddenly filled with adrenaline. You want to do it more often and better. The biggest motivation for me is the feeling when you land a trick.
What do you want to become when you are 'grown up'?
I want to be a free person. And that my life is connected to skateboarding.
Peter Bunturi, 13
How did you come to skateboarding?
My friends and I went to the skate park a year ago and watched the other kids. After that we really wanted to start and bought ourselves boards. I like that everyone can skate. It's really different from other sports.
What was your first memory that you associate with skateboarding?
There was this movie on television, Lords Of Dogtown, about skaters. They just drove around and did tricks all the time.
How would you describe the skate community in Tbilisi?
The community is like a big family. We see each other every day.
This article originally appeared on i-D DE.