If fashion were a baby, then France would be its mother. Known as the birthplace of Haute Couture, France became an authority on fashion in the mid 1600’s, under the rule of King Louis XIV when he decided to take over the commerce of luxury goods.
If France is fashion’s womb, then the UK is its cool, cigarette smoking, yet prim aunt. She cares about impeccable tailoring, a la Savile Row and even the toilet paper in her loo is adorned with the Burberry check print.
The cool, cultured and aloof older sister, by the name of Italia is known for her buttery soft leather that is meticulously chosen from the best hides and made by the very best craftsmanship and care.
All of these countries have had centuries to perfect their craft and build their mammoth fashion houses. But what about Israel? What legacy does this 71-year-old country posses? Some may look at this nascent nation and scoff at its “fashion”. I on the other hand, stand in humbled awe.
After the miraculous hurdle of statehood was crossed, the young country began cultivating both the land and their presence on the international stage. Roads necessitated paving, Cities required building, crops needed sowing and the country needed trained protection. The byproduct f this industrious period was a kind of austerity and sense of urgency. These highly consequential undertakings hardly left room for designing clothes and curating personal style.
This industrial, frugal, tough and determined climate permeated into the Israeli people’s choice of dress. From the navy and khaki uniform that embodied the strong social laborer to the Middle Eastern caftans embroidered with Eastern European motifs, Israel slowly began forging her unique identity.
Many factors have gone into (and still continue to go into) shaping Israel’s fashion legacy. Whether it was fleeing pogroms, the Nazis, defying vast armies or getting to know the land on a very physical and intimate level, the Jewish people and their state persevered because there was simply no other option.
This unique mix of a “nothing to lose, only to gain” mentality, genuine curiosity for pushing limits (Hello, Silicon Wadi) and a shpritz, (or a handful- depending who you ask) of chutzpah is at the heart of what makes Israeli fashion so unique, remarkable and just plain kick-ass.
Israel is that individualistic girl you spot at the party, compliment her on her unique sartorial choices, only to be pleasantly surprised that everything you see her wearing is handmade from recycled industrial plastic and 3D-printed fibers.
These are just some of the incredible designers that I believe embody this zeitgeist beautifully: