You may not know it, but Tel Aviv is the fashion capital of the Middle East.
There isn’t a street in this Israeli city that doesn’t have at least one boutique or shop that is stocked with clothes or accesories from a local, independent fashion designer. With 3 design schools in this multi-cultural, modern city, Israel’s fashion creatives are literally overflowing the streets with their structured and progressive designs.
Even though some might say that clothes from Israel are too casual, or even lacking in color variety as well as prints for the most part, after speaking with these designers, I found out that many of them do create their collections tailored around the Israeli woman and the environmental factors they are forced to deal with on a daily basis.
Clothes are cut at a comfortable, loose fit due to the hot weather factor (oh, what’s up Equator?). Materials like cotton and flowy silks are used by a lot of Israeli designers too for their more “breathable” characteristics. Plus, who wants to have tight clothes stuck to their sweaty bodies anyway? I’ll pass on that, thanks.
Importing fabrics from out of the country is quite expensive, causing many of them, especially fledgling designers still in school, to fight over the same roll of fabric found at shops in the Shenkin Street district (similar to NYC’s Garment District).
When asked about why most designers don’t use more loud prints or loud colors, there seemed to be a general consensus that designing and making clothes is based more on practicality and functionality as opposed to artistic expression. Yet, the designers I’ve met with each had something different to offer up for both the local and global fashion markets, representative of the attitudes and lifestyles that they all share being from a city that is known to be a “bubble,” with all of the socio-politcal conflicts surrounding the area.
Whether it’s the nuance of creating modern pieces that draws inspiration from the past, or creating trendy, practical and sophisticated sportswear garments for the Israeli woman on-the-go, or even incorporating sharp, geometrical shapes and angles into their designs (like the Bahaus architecture that blankets the city), each of these elements are reflective of the people and culture from this amazing metropolis-by-the-sea that these designers so happen to live in.
On a recent trip to Tel Aviv, I was lucky enough to meet with 7 established designers, one of whom used a pre-internationally famous Bar Refaeli as a model back in the day, to check out their latest creations and find out more about what it’s like to be a creative in Israel’s cultural epicenter. To meet these designers and to see their latest works, be sure to click through the slideshow above!
Special thanks to Hilla Ohayon and Sarafan Showroom for their help with this article.
NAME: Mirit Weinstock
WHY THEY'RE AWESOME: Combining her 1930's style aesthetic, her love of fringe and other fabric add-ons and her sophisticated cheekyness, Mirit Weinstock creates clothes and jewelry for confident girls who aren't afraid to show off a little of their romantic and come-hither side. She is currently expanding her jewelry line, focusing on working with unique materials such as feathers from a shuttlecock that are then dipped in a metals.
BEHIND THE SCENES: Images taken at Mirit's studio. From top left to bottom right: 1) Love note on the wall, 2) Wedding dress creation for graduation project from design school, 3) A young Bar Refaeli posing in Mirit's earlier designers, and 4) Vintage-inspired decor and trinkets
NAME: Tammar Edelman & Elinor Avni (pictured) aka Noritamy
WHY THEY'RE AWESOME: This Mother-Daughter duo is a female-fronted powerhouse of innovative design. Tammar's know-how of design and art, mixed with Elinor's architectural savvy, creates an aesthetically pleasing combination that boasts lines and structures that haven't been seen anywhere before.
BEHIND THE SCENES: A look inside the Noritamy sutdio.
Images courtesy of Noritamy
Instagram love at the Noritamy showroom
NAME: Karin Aviaz aka Karin A
WHY THEY'RE AWESOME: Karin A creates clothes that are practical yet still feminine with a modern twist. Her pieces are great to wear from the office and then straight to an after-work cocktail party. No matter what body shape you are, just about everyone looks flattering in her clothes.
NAME: Shirley Itzik aka Ruby Star
WHY THEY'RE AWESOME: Probably the only designer in Israel right now that's on top of the neo-gothic, geometric, Gareth Pugh-esque trend of creating clothes and accesories with strong, structured lines under the influence of surrealism. Her pieces are perfect for someone who follows female frontwomen like PJ Harvey or Karen O for style inspiration. Sold in Hong Kong, France, Ireland, England, Germany and the United States, her aesthetic has global appeal for everyone's inner goth.
Outside of the Ruby Star boutique in Jaffa, Tel Aviv
The Ruby Star boutique in Jaffa carries the designer's clothes and jewelry lines
NAME: Alice Dahan aka Miss Alice
WHY THEY'RE AWESOME: Miss Alice is another Israeli designer who creates for those stylistas that want to be comfortable yet still rock a modern look. Her signature slouchy-slash-skinny pants (pants with a large inseam and tailored throughout the leg) are a big hit with clients in Israel as well as abroad. Some of you New Yorkers might of have even seen them on the racks at trendy boutique OAK. Her pieces are great for running around town to get some errands done. Just throw on some heels, makeup and jewelery, and you're ready for a night out with the girls!
Miss Alice label on one of her famous trousers
The pants seen around the world - literally
A look inside Alice's boutique in Tel Aviv where she carries other chic brands like personal favorite April 77
NAME: Itai Mintz aka Dario's
WHY THEY'RE AWESOME: Dario's design of women's jewelry (or for courageous men too!) is that of a futuristic, apocalyptic tribal vibe. He says that his pieces are for a "street cat" - someone thats an urban dweller who listens to hip hop and rock music. In other words, a hipster. His materials are for the most part sourced locally from Israel. And to that I say, "mazel tov!" The works he created at the beginning of his career started out more as pieces of art, but now the designer says he is slowly starting to create with utility in mind. Either way, there is no denying the fact that his creations are eye-catching and edgey - just ask Susie Bubble!
Jewelry designs from the past and presents laid out at Dario's studio
NAME: Einav Zucker & Hadas Zucker aka Rhus Ovata
WHY THEY'RE AWESOME: Sisters Einav and Hadas already had experience working in the fashion industry before they started their own line, Rhus Ovata, back in 2006. Einav was hired as head designer for the women's collection under DIESEL for 3 years, while Hadas gained experience working at MICHAEL KORS in their Accessories and Collection departments. Working with high quality fabrics and custom-designed prints, the craftmanship behind their clothes has helped put Rhus Ovata on the map, both on a local and global scale. The sisters design for girls who are youthful, chic, tender and romantic. Their clothes come off as edgey, cool and masculine-inspired. Unlike other Israeli designers who stick t0 monochromatic color schemes, Rhus Ovata is not afraid to use pinks, blues, etc. in their collections. Walking into one of the three Rhus Ovata boutiques in Tel Aviv almost makes you feel like you've been transported into Opening Ceremony in NYC, minus the staff of Brooklyn hipsters.
A look at the newest Rhus Ovata store that opened up at the Ramit Aviv Mall in Tel Aviv
Hadas Zucker at the Rhus Ovata store in the Ramit Aviv Mall, Tel Aviv