When entering Dizengoff Center for the first time the first thing one might notice is its size. The complex is simply huge, well not really, (infact puny compared to some American malls.) However, it feels big. Floor after floor rises up, with winding ramps snaking along the side of the complex. The Center has seemingly infinite ceilings, making you feel small and insignificant, as if you are just another tribute at the maw of Israeli consumerism. Inside the center there is something for everyone, furniture stores, vape stores, sex shops, tattoo parlors, and music stores just to name a few. However what stands out is the numerous and varied boutiques and big brand clothing stores. What becomes apparent is a clear contrast and divide present throughout Israeli society, the austere and the extravagant.
[What alerted me to this divide was an exhibit currently at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem called Fashion Statements. Fashion statements examines and explores seventy years of Israeli fashion not through chronology but through the different themes and trends that are found throughout this nation’s fashion history. It is an amazing exhibit and you should definitely go check it out if you have the opportunity.]
When I think about where in daily life this contrast can be best exemplified two modern staples of Israeli fashion come to mind. Blundstones and distressed jeans. For those unfamiliar with these pieces Blundstones are THE Israeli boot. While they do hail from Tasmania, over the last several years Blundstones have become an iconic staple in the Israeli wardrobe. Dull, durable, and minimalistic Blundstones are perfect for hiking across the Negev or a night on the town. Recently distressed jeans, jeans with an impractical amount of ripping or tearing have become incredibly popular among Israeli youth and could now be considered a staple.
“Hey Mitchell, you’re comparing boots and jeans to show contrast‽ How does that make sense‽” you may ask. Well Blundstones represent the height of Israeli austerity, while they may be pricey they will last forever. They are built to do the work that our nation was founded on, trudging across deserts and through fields, showing that even in the toughest conditions Israelis not only survive but thrive.
Distressed jeans represent the equally important opposite end of this ideal. Our nation’s founders wanted their children and grandchildren to live in a nation where the work they started would not be be necessary. The extravagance and impracticality of extremely ripped jeans is a testament to how far we’ve come. The work our founders built this nation on is no longer necessary at the extent it used to be. We get to relax, let loose, and have a little fun.
Distressed jeans and Blundstones, a study in contrast. Fashion acts as a mirror for who we were, who we are, who we can be, and who we want to be. So when you put on your Blundstones in the morning or your ripped jeans before a night on the town, just know that you, in that moment are fulfilling and enacting the Zionist dream.