Fashion Shopping in Israel: What you need to know
By Michelle Esther Appelbaum, MA Educational Psychology, MBA Candidate
As an American living in Israel, my expectations, desires, needs and wants tend to be different than those of women who were born and raised in this country. The entire fashion scene in Israel is completely different, for example. People have many thoughts when the word Israel comes to mind: sand, desert and camels; war zone, danger, political unrest; Start-Up Nation or, of course, hummus. Fashion is not usually on the list at all, but in fact there is a scene here and it is quite impressive. Â (I should mention that wine is also usually not on the list, but absolutely deserves to beâ€¦expect to see an article on Israeli vineyards in the near future)
Oh yeah, we have all this AND good fashion. And wine. Yum.
Israeli women are generally beautiful, gorgeous, stunning, breathtaking, call it what you will. For that reason and others, they often wear less make-up and more simple clothing. On the other hand, the fashion-savvy women enjoy a vastly different wardrobe: bright colors, shapes, and patterns, all mixed and matched for a look that I describe with one word: fun!
So, how should we go about finding fashionably fun clothing and accessories? The items sold in global stores such as H&M, Zara or American Eagle might work, but you need to be aware of the fact that the merchandise sold here is not the same as what is sold thousands of miles away.
Where I am from, the customer is always right. Often times in Israel, the opposite proves to be not only an acceptable business value, but one that is encouraged. Yes, they will walk into your fitting room while you are trying something on. Yes, they will tell you if you look fat in those jeans. Yes, they will tell you that you must buy something, even if you already told them twenty times you hate it. Yes, it can be obnoxious, but no, you should not get upset or frustrated: They are genuinely trying to use their honesty and straight-forwardness to help! This is simple the way itâ€™s done in Eretz Yisrael. If and when you leave, you just might miss itâ€¦
According to Edan, working hard and hustling pays off, big time. Edan is an American Israeli who understands this mentality inside and out. He was working the floors of multiple fashion clothing stores in Tel Aviv, as the first step in his training program. While he did not (hopefully) walk into girlsâ€™ changing rooms, he did go above and beyond in order to get the best of both worlds: giving women more to try on including shoes, hats, jewelry, purses; and making those sales happen. During his training, I think he engaged in what we call in business school â€œManaging Upâ€ and taught the other girls a thing or two about how itâ€™s done. At a good restaurant, part of the service and experience is being offered the perfect white wine for your fish, or the perfect desert wine for your soufflÃ©; so, why shouldnâ€™t youÂ wantÂ the sales person to show you the perfect belt for your dress? After all that wine and soufflÃ© youâ€™ll need a belt to cover up that extra kilo, anyway (Or two, or three..)
If this sounds overwhelming, there is a simple, easy, clear, fast and safe answer: shop online! My recommendation? Il Couture (http://ilcouture.com/). No, not Il because you are feeling ill from over eating (again) at Shabbat dinner; Il is for Israel. The website gives fashion tips, is clear with a simple and friendly user interface, and offers a membership program with benefits. Check their website, twitter, Google+ and Facebook accounts for discounts.
Whether you are in a store or online, I wish you happy shopping!