Tuesday, August 19, 2014
|Israel's Calcalist daily (also The Marker) is a take off on The Wall Street Journal and Financial Times|
Monday, June 23, 2008
Looking good is important in Tel Aviv. This flies straignt in the face of the very confusing image of the rough and schlumpy Israeli woman. The image that Israeli women tried to portray in the 1950's was of pioneering all can do superwoman. Milk the cows in the morning, raise the kids in the day, guard the border at night. But the city reality of Israeli women was a little different. Fashion and beauty supplies came with Europeans very early on. Whatever Israeli women could not afford local companies made here. Jump forward 50 years to 2008 and the Israeli woman, a mix of every imaginable culture is very much interested in fashion and beauty. There are a dozen Israeli beauty supply companies, some with international reputation. Ahava started out as a Dead Sea specialty company, and Jade is well knows here but a bit of a 'hidden secret' outside Israel.
A crema counter with samples and plenty to buy.
Let's face it, Tel Aviv is not considered a fashion center. I would say YET! But if you are a woman, this city is nothing to laugh about. It's true that most Israeli designers have looked elsewhere to develop their careers and their businesses. But women still want to look beautiful and there is plenty of products and services to help them. In the beginning of June Tel Aviv hosted a Beauty City 2008 fair. About 30 makeup, hair, and fashion companies gathered at the Tel Aviv fairgrounds and showed off their "product". It turned out to be a mix between a fashion show and a 50% off sale. Let's face it, these little bottles of beauty don't come cheap. Some of the names in the makeup category: Estee Lauder, Lancome, Hugo Boss, Jade, Revlon, Ahava, L'Oreal, and Dove. In the hair section: Wella, Pantene, Nivea, Shuki Zikri, and Gillette.
The big practical attraction was the 50% discount on almost everything on display. This is a big deal for women who like good products but don't like to pay the high prices. The more expensive products from Estee Lauder, Shisheido, Lancome, and Jeanne Piaubert were discounted a little less, but still 20% to 30% was offered.
Beautiful in design, the Revlon booth.
The fair also offered a fashion show every hour or two. Cloths from Gucci, Jean Paul Gaultier, Christian Lacroix, and Dolce & Gabbana were on display worn by about 25 young models. Beuty City 2008 showed also how Israel has grown up in the fashion and beauty area. There are still many international brands who consider this market small and in transition. This is simply the phase Israeli women are going through, both economically and culturally. But the women here definitely want to look and be seen as beautiful. So when the late comers look back at 2008 they may regret not making Israeli women beautiful today. But that again is just a speculation on the future. Read More...
Sunday, February 3, 2008
The dollar's value in New Israeli Shekels is going down. Not just a little, and not just this week. In the last six months (mid July '07) the value has gone down 16% (4.3NIS to 3.7NIS). With the dependence of Israeli economy on the US, you would think that people are rioting in the streets? But no such thing is happening. Well, people are certainly worried about the dollar here, probably next to the shekel it is the most used and respected denomination. But the reality is a little more complex. While Israelis always had respect to the US dollar and the American economy, there are bigger factors which drive the economy here. Today, no single element actually dominated the worries and headlines of the Israeli economy. The largest factor today which swamps the dependence on the US dollar is the shift of the Israeli economy from single market and single product focus to a more fractured and multifaceted structure. This shift together with higher emphasis on cooperation with foreign economies is easing the impact of the dollar's drop. The second largest factor by far is the drop in impact of Palestinian terrorism on the economy. Like the value of the US dollar, these are two uncontrollable factors, which to some extend bothers Stanley Fischer, the Israel bank chairman.
US dollar value in New Israeli Shekels, last 5 years, drop from ~5 to 3.6
Professor Fischer, a US import of sorts to the Israeli government attests the respect of 'locals' to the US economic strength. He is the first, and by far, the most prominent non-Israeli to hold a position of power in the Israeli government. To Israelis this is a "new" way of thinking, but Israelis are no longer too proud not to take advice from someone like Fischer. Actually, the appointment of a foreigner to such an important position is a reflection of Israel's ability to look outside and to use resources that are not available or developed internally. The attitude of doing what is most useful or practical in terms of resources is causing the shift from the dependence on the US economy and the dollar to greater use of other denominations and economies.
Value of Euro vs. NIS, set at 5.6 +/- 0.2
I notice that the shift to trade with other countries and develop business relations there is not simple or easy. Changes, specially on a large scale, are not quick to happen. Also, understanding and trusting new partners takes a certain amount of investment which to some extent is not recovered. For Israeli business this is a difficult step. Both the size of the economy and the history of how it was developed, has not trained business people to invest in long term relationships without seeing returns quickly. Some of this stems from the large amount of business based on early government investment and development. Some of the emotional hurdles to the changes come from simply the overall changes, the need to do something that will stretch the country's business position, preferences of the workers, and molding sectors to new habits. But, with today's global changes, Israel as a small country has done this a few times in the recent past. So, don't cry for the dollar Israel... and don't worry so much out there in the business world. We are moving, changing, and doing what it takes to have a better way of doing things. Read More...
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
or Does The Marker Care About Terrorism?I have been reading The Marker, Ha'Aretz's business paper for a month now. It comes to my door, and it is starting to drum into me the business vs. political schizophrenia in Israel. This is something that in the US and Europe is taken for granted. There is a strict separation of economic to political worlds. But in Israel, until a few years ago, this was not the case. Every time anything happened it was blamed on the "security situation" ~ a key term meaning: "the terrorist attack last night is scaring off investors... tourists... foreign companies..." Well, it seems that this is not the case any more. Maybe it's the fact that foreigners have been coming here for a long time and have shown Israeli business that some things are beyond their control so they need to do something else. At one time Israeli businesses compared terrorism in Israel to the drug trafficking in the US and South America. But they noticed that large US corporations never really talked about how drugs affect them. It may cause a robbery at some 7-11 stores or lower the Real Estate value in some neighbourhoods. But that is no reason to mix business and politics. It may be that Israelis have noticed that if you don't talk about "security issues" you start thinking more about what you can really do with what you have.
The Marker, Israel's #1 business paper, no mention of "security"
In some respects this shows the maturity of Israel business. But in other respect this is also a shift of Israeli business to more global standards. It seems to me that up to the early 1990's most of the influence in Israeli business came from the US. This was before the Russian immigration which brought a million people to Israel and the smaller and steady immigration of Jews from UK, Australia, Canada and France the last decade. These changes in the population and the acceptance of Israel in Europe has changed the business in Israel dramatically. Today, the influence from US companies and government is still strong, but business here is much more independent and connected to Europe and Asia. There are probably more Russian speaking professionals in position of power and influence than native English speakers ten years ago. Slowly this shift is starting to show up in the media. It is also showing up in the way Israeli companies think about doing business outside of the country. One excellent example is the building and architecture sector. For a long time, most of the building and design by Israeli firms was done exclusively in Israel and Africa. But the last few years, Israeli builders and architects are looking more to eastern Europe and central Asia. This is mostly because of the available architects and builders with culture and language skills relevant to these markets. There are even a few large companies owned or run by Russian immigrants who started out at the bottom and made it to upper management. For the most part this is good news for Israelis, dependence on a single country like the US has it's risks and this is something that Israel has gone through before. For the US it means less influence on Israeli business and indirectly on politics. This is a change, and it seems like Israelis and others are going along without too much difficulty. It is also good news to US companies with strong international influence. In Tel Aviv today you can find more culturally Russian workers than anywhere except Moscow. Which means, that American business can come to Tel Aviv and run or support business operations in Eastern Europe. Which is probably as good as running an operation in Prague, Warsaw, Bucharest, or Budapest. At least that is the opinion of most Israelis. Anyway, there are lots of interesting observations in how Israel is changing it's business stance. So keep your eyes open at companies which are building their markets in other places, specially to the north and the east of here. Read More...
Friday, January 18, 2008
Nana's (a portal for blogs and discussions) fashion section (http://fashion.nana.co.il)
Hello again. I have been out for a while, mostly trying to figure out what would work by reading and researching other blogs. I also tried to read what popular blogs and writers say. It seems to me that besides being controversial people try write interesting material for a specific group. Writing about Tel Aviv, specially the "things" (i.e. stores, events, food, buildings) tend to interest only people who want to know something else. When I wrote about places to shop, there seem to be interest from tourists and foreign Real Estate investors (American & Canadians). When I wrote about the gym on Iben Gvirol seems like young Americans wanted to know the difference between one place and another, not just that specific gym. A blog is not like a newspaper. Even with a few contributors, focus seems to be more useful to readers than wide coverage. Sometimes as a blog writer, we forget that in a newspaper there are tens or even hundreds of writers! But the benefit of a blog is the personal viewpoint and the interest of the writer. I am not saying that in the NY Times the food editor does not like going out to eat as much as I do. Maybe he does and maybe he is even better at writing about it. But he is not in Tel Aviv and does not eat a mix of flavors and cuisines like people here now. Hopefully you don't need the writing at the level of a NY Times editor or writer to enjoy what is going on in Tel Aviv.
So what's next?I am going to write about what I see. Not just the "things" but the behaviour of the people. I think this is more interesting, specially since it's very different than other places. Some of the differences I think have to do with the blend of cultures. It's very hard to describe, but it's fantastic!
http://fashion.walla.co.il is a popular fashion destination.
Walking down the street in central Tel Aviv is a mix of fashions that one would not see in most big cities. Certainly not in New York, LA or even Milan. First of all, the population in Israel varies from recent immigrants from the former Soviet Union to Jews from Iran and Ethiopia. Second of all, Israel also has second and third generation Israelis from all over the world. Literally! the population in Israel has background from everywhere. Third, the is a wide gap in social, economic and religious background. All these blended together is thrown onto a new culture of fashion consumerism and a geographic location not exactly European or Asian or even African. At the traditional European fashion corner you will find most of the brands from the big fashion houses in Italy and France. At another corner is the American contingent, from Levi's jeans to Ralph Lauren upscale designs. Than add a little corner of Arab/middle-eastern influenced designs, specially for women (I would also add the Indian/Sri Lanka/Pakistani influence here). Finally, there is the encompassing everything Asian "knock-off" but not exactly. By that I mean fashion which is an attempt to clone every other known brand but with a twist. A large amount of clothing and accessories find their way from China, Malaysia, Singapore, India, Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam and a few other small South-East Asian countries.
How does that translate to everyday fashion? Well, it's hard to explain, but it's a great idea for a project of photographing people on the street. For the most part, Israeli women love to mix styles from all around the world, so a women dressed in traditional European design will add a colorful scarf or jewelry from India without thinking about it.
In the marketing and retailing front, Israeli merchants are a mix of western influence and local names. The three large malls in Tel Aviv (Azrieli, Dizengoff and Ramat Aviv) play a large role in the access of western fashion to the public. This includes stores who sell under the international tags and local fashion names. In the smaller stores and boutiques there are more specialized names. The new port area has a small number of specialty boutiques, specially with Italian and French fashion. The port area is trying to become the new upscale fashion shopping area. There are even roumors that the city itself in the form of regulation enforcement is helping this effort somewhat (rumors that bars are being asked to 'quiet down' and not become a center for nightlife). On Bugrashov street there are smaller shops with odd and more specialized fashion. This street you will find the newer, 'younger' names like the first Israeli Crumpler bag store. I hope this is a new start for my writing. Which started out in a desire to explain the fierce "fashon race" that is running rampant in Tel Aviv. It seems to me like what was happening in the US and Europe in the 1980's and 1990's. When the big designers lured people to buy more cloths at higher prices. Which in turn stimulated stores to open up fancier and bigger stores and eventually "boutique chains". Specialty chains that target a certain style and population (i.e. The Gap, The Limited in the US). Well, if you want to hear about other things 'in the air' in Tel Aviv, drop me a line. Thanks, Ami Read More...