When I first came to Israel and started noticing the fashion scene, while I coveted the amazing way Israelis put their outfits together, I also wondered why I wasn’t seeing Chanel shoes, Phillip Lim jackets, or Gucci bags.
Call me ignorant or even naive, but I’m accustomed to this living in New York City, which is full of fashionable hipsters who know how to layer clothing, but also full of women who call themselves fashionistas because they brand name jumpsuits from Stella McCartney and Catherine Malandrino dresses. Don’t get me wrong–I have nothing against these incredible designers. After all, there’s no way they could have gotten the recognition they have without having lots of talent to back it up. But when you see a typical American woman wearing Chanel earrings, a Fendi belt, a hjgh-end Balmain blazer, and carrying a Louis Vuitton bag, you start to wonder–just how many designers can one woman wear in one ensemble and how much money does she really have to spend?
(Remember, this doesn’t go for all women especially since the recession. H&M, Forever21 and thrift shopping is just as big as ever in the States. But that’s not the point!)
So I started wondering, where were these brand name designers in Israel? Of course, I’d heard of Morin Woolf, the closest thing Israel has to haute couture. And of course, I’d heard about designers Mirit Weinstock making a dress for someone at the Oscars.
And of course, there are Israeli designers like Anya Fleet and Agas and Tamar who could be considered high end by Israeli standards in their prices and wares. But we’re not talking about that.
After doing some research, and asking around, I realize that you can find international brand names like Versace, Tommy Hillfiger, Gucci, and Roberto Cavalli in this country.
The question isn’t whether you can buy designer fashion in Israel. The question, would you want to?
Here’s what I mean:
1) As far as I know (and it may just be a matter of opinion), most Israelis don’t often buy designer names. Chalk it up to not being able to afford them. The average Israeli salary is much less than the typical American or British or European salary and while even you internationals may have to make payment plans on your credit card, most Israelis are allowed to go below zero on their account and are usually in the minus. That doesn’t stop them from shopping with a vengeance, buying budget international brands like H&M and perhaps biting off more than they can chew (women will easily pop in a store for 300nis dresses or a 1,000nis bag) but it will stop them from buying the high-end brand names like Narciso Rodriguez or Rodarte.
2) As much as there is a need for world fashion here (look at the recent influx of stores like FCUK, H&M, and Gap) I still feel that Israelis are prone to Israeli fashion and indie fashion. They might have dresses made of jersey instead of cotton or shoes that break easily, but it’s what they know. I’d like to think its because there is a sense of pride and nationalism in this country and Israelis would like to support their own. But the real reason is that Israeli fashion (not all, but most) tend to be cheaper than your exported brands like Nine West, Mango, and Aldo. This is especially true for high-end brands that would even be expensive in the country they came from. Which brings me to reason #3…
3) Any imported products in Israel, whether it’s makeup or appliances, or whether it’s from France, England, or the United States, are going to be more expensive here for many reasons. Import and export taxes are much higher. Materials bought end up costing twice or three times as much. One of my first posts on this blog was a piece on overpriced American products in Israel. I mentioned Nine West sandals that were $64 in the States and up to $200 in Dizengoff Center. The same goes for designers like Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, and Proenza Schouler. Their products are imported at heavier taxes because the clothing is already expensive. Which makes them that much more expensive here. And there are people who pay those prices because they have the money or they can’t get it anywhere else. But if you can get those same designers in Outlets in the US or even online at Net-a-Porter…why would you even think of buying them here?
Perhaps Israel carries pieces from designers that you wouldn’t find in England or Spain or the United States. For me, that would be all the only turn on to buying them in Israel. Otherwise, I would never do it.
There are a couple places that sell designer products for cheaper in Tel Aviv, but they are few and far between I’ve learned of places like Labels for Less on 25 HaMered (near Shenkin) which has Escada, Gucci, and other labels and Mint, an online shop and boutique on 5 Baaley Melacha (also near Shenkin,) which carries one-of-a-kind designer items (though I’m not sure if they’re brand names like Versace) at fairly inexpensive prices. There are also loads of vintage shops and apartment sales that might carry vintage designer items, but you’re going to have to scour the racks for that one. Who knows, you just might stumble upon a diamond in the rough.
Now that I’ve given you clothes for thought and perhaps you’ve pondered whether or not you should buy that designer item in Israel, if you’re still hot for that high-end brand name in Israel, check out my next post for where to buy designer items in this small country.
*The above reasons are only a matter of opinion. However, if you happen to disagree with me and have a better idea of what Israeli consumer will buy, let me know!