Before I start this short little piece, about another little piece I wrote for IGoogledIsrael, I just want all my readers to know that I do know that H&M is European (Swedish to be exact,) not American, but this not my point.
Keep reading and you’ll understand.
A friend of mine told me about two billboards across from each other that she saw in the center of the city on Ibn Gvirol St. The first sign, for H&M, showed a girl popping out of her turtleneck, with the words in Hebrew, “Finally, finally we’re here!” (“סוף סוף אנחנו מגיעים!”) H&M, as we all know, arrives in Tel Aviv at Azrieli Mall on Thursday, March 11th.
Across from it, a sign from Castro, with lots of different faces. Underneath, the words, “We are the people of the city.” In English. Very tongue in cheek.
An obvious rebuttal to H&M. Everyone knows that Castro is the epitome of an Israeli brand. Though they may have a few small branches in Russia or elsewhere, they are quintessentially Israeli. They market worldwide trends, but cater to a vast Israeli market.
It was obvious that Castro was trying to tell their biggest buyers and their biggest fans to stay loyal to their clothing line and not to buy from H&M. But why would they feel the need to send the message in this way.
Thus, I went a bit deeper in the piece. It’s not surprising that Castro would feel this way–after all, international fashion brands are slowly, slowly taking over the Israeli market. Topshop, Miss Sixty, and Tommy Hilfiger have already made their mark and within just the past few months–FCUK and Gap have imprinted themselves upon the Tel Avivian landscape, with Banana Republic soon to follow. Now, H&M is coming.
Although yes, H&M is a Swedish brand with an international following, I called this the “Americanization” of Israel. In my opinion, Castro is worried about losing the Israeli identity and replacing it with brands that are very popular in America and the rest of the world.
After all, many Israelis are already clamoring to be American. They know American trends, watch tv in English, learn the English language at a young age, and Israel has repeatedly called itself one of America’s strongest alleys (and even joked it’s the 52nd state.)
Thus, we wonder, with such small but meaningful steps, like the expansion of American tv and infusing their clothing on the Israeli population, if Israel will forgo its identity in place of something much greater—to be like America and the rest of the world. Castro is certainly worried about it.
What do you think?