Burkini Ban Is Great For Business, Says Israeli-French Maker Of Modest Swimsuits

08/26/2016 - 10:23

AMSTERDAM (JTA) — According to the latest tally, at least 30 French municipalities have banned the product that the Paris-born businesswoman Yardena G. sells for a living.

Sea Secret’s “Magic Marine” modest swimsuit (Courtesy of Sea Secret)

The ‘Kate Middleton Effect’ On Synagogue Fashion

11/29/2015 - 19:00

The so-called “Kate Middleton effect” — by which anything the Duchess of Cambridge wears becomes an instant best-seller — seems to know no bounds.

Prince William and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, in Ottawa, Canada, July 1, 2011. Wikimedia Commons

Mixing Moxy and Matzah Balls, Meet Unkosher Market's T-Shirt Line

Now you can "Schvitz It Out" in style.

11/02/2015 - 19:00
Editorial Intern

If body language is how most people judge us, what we wear is an essential statement we make before we can even open our mouths.

Unkosher Market's T-Shirt range mixes Jewish expressions with memes. Courtesy of Neph and Becky Trejo

Donna Karan: 7 Easy Pieces, 7 Jew-y Facts

The fashion icon is also a Hebrew heroine.

07/01/2015 - 20:00
Editorial Intern

Fashion icon Donna Karan. Getty Images

Remembering Gottex

Long, long ago, appearing partially unclad occasioned no greater agita in my mind than appearing fully dressed. At that time, wearing a bathing suit was a fashion opportunity rather than a moment of shame. But Gottex bathing suits were on a list of items well beyond my price range. 

“What’s Under Your Pareo?" at the JCC in Manhattan.Koon

A Cinematic Fashion Statement

The nonagenarian fashion icon is the subject of a new documentary by the recently deceased Albert Maysles.

04/20/2015 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

These days, calling Iris Apfel for a telephone interview is like crossing the main level of Grand Central Station at rush hour. The subject of a new documentary by the late Albert Maysles, Apfel has been rendered by his recent death the primary source for comment on the film, “Iris,” which opens April 29 at Film Forum (209 W. Houston St.; [212] 727-8110) and the Lincoln Plaza Cinema (Broadway and 62nd Street; [212] 757-0359).

Iris Apfel and Albert Maysles

‘Radical Muslims’ Clothing Line Attempts To Shatter Stereotypes

04/13/2015 - 20:00

Radical Muslims. The phrase elicits images of ISIS militants and terror in the desert, perhaps grainy YouTube videos, Kalashnikovs and raised fists.

Fashion’s Most Modest: Blog Roundup

Making fashionable modesty possible for the modern woman.

10/26/2014 - 20:00
Editorial Intern

Crop-tops and sequined mini skirts may be in style, but they are not “mod.”

Celebrities modeling modest fashion. Via

From The Runway To Sacred Space

Multimedia installation is not a novelty on the contemporary art scene. Even the inventive fusing of avant-garde couture, architecture and video is not without precedent. However, The Jewish Museum’s exhibition “threeASFOUR: MER KA BA,” is hallowed ground. This is space made sacred by its fervid devotion to intricate detail and the purity of its spiritual vision. The effect is disorienting and ethereal.

Clothing © 2013 threeASFOUR. David Heald The Jewish Museum and Art Production Fund

Beyond Basic Black

Breaking with traditional color scheme, some Chabad men pushing fashion boundaries.
05/06/2013 - 20:00

Yosel Tiefenbrun looked in the mirror, and he liked what he saw.

The 23-year-old Chabad rabbi and apprentice at Maurice Sedwell, a bespoke tailor’s shop on London’s Savile Row, was wearing a vintage double-breasted jacket with gold buttons, tasseled Barker shoes, a claret bow tie and matching handmade hat and square handkerchief.  Then he ran out the door to attend the “Oscars of tailoring” — the Golden Shears Award ceremony honoring the best in British fashion.

Several of his colleagues were in the running for a prize. They came back empty, but Tiefenbrun did not.

Nick Carvell, the online fashion editor at British GQ, snapped his picture and posted it the following day on the magazine’s website, naming Tiefenbrun “best in show.” Within days, the photograph of the chasidic rabbi and his natty attire was picked up by Jewish publications around the world.

“This is a very important message,” Tiefenbrun told JTA. “You can be a [religious] man and still be successful in whatever you do if you are constantly working on yourself and keeping your Jewish life alive.”

Chasidic Jews are well known for flouting the conventions of contemporary fashion, adhering to a strict dress code that originated in Eastern Europe and emphasizes modesty and piety. For men, the uniform mandates a black hat, coat and pants with a white shirt.

But in recent years, some haredi women have sought to push the limits of tznius, or modesty, wearing more elaborate and, in some cases, slightly more revealing clothes. Now a group of young men affiliated with the Chabad chasidic movement are doing the same, in some cases breaking dramatically with their community’s sartorial codes.

Last year, Rabbi Dovi Scheiner and his wife, Esty, a Chabad couple who run the “boutique” Soho Synagogue in Lower Manhattan, were named among the Big Apple’s 50 best dressers by Stylecaster, a fashion news website. The 36-year-old rabbi posed for the online outlet sitting on a velvet chair wearing a smart gray suit and laceless Converse sneakers.

Meanwhile, Mendy Sacho, a South African designer based in New York, has gained mainstream media attention for his innovative take on kapotas, the long black frocks worn by chasidic men. Sacho invigorates the traditionally drab coats by adding colorful linings and a sharper cut.

Rather than seeing their sartorial sensibilities as a departure from traditional dress, this new crop of fashionable chasidim tend to see being stylish and religiously observant as complementary.

“Look at the rebbe,” said Sacho, referring to Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the late spiritual leader of Chabad. “When he was young, he was a very well-groomed man. The style he wore in the ’50s in France is the style many Chabadniks are now adopting.”

Photos of Schneerson from the period show him in dapper outfits that sharply contrast with the conservative look he adopted later as Chabad’s leader.

Samuel Heilman, a Queens College sociologist and co-author of a biography of Schneerson, said the rebbe’s followers have tended to overlook those years in Paris, partially because of the liberal taste in clothes he exhibited.

“[In his youth] he dressed in a much more cosmopolitan fashion, sometimes wearing a beret,” Heilman said. “In the absence of a living rebbe, there are capacities for all these chasidim to project on the rebbe all sorts of things that would not be possible if he were alive.”

Tiefenbrun, who served as a religious emissary in Singapore for two years before returning to London, wears suits that are much more ostentatious than the subtly augmented frocks sold by Sacho. On his Tumblr page, Tiefenbrun posts photos of himself in outfits not commonly seen on chasidic men. His style favors boldly colored shoes, trendy hats, bow ties, sharply cut jackets and pocket squares.

Tiefenbrun spends a day-and-a-half each week learning his craft at Maurice Sedwell’s tailoring academy. The rest of the week he works the front desk, where he has waited on sheiks, soccer players and TV personalities.

One non-Jewish client, noticing his yarmulke, asked him for a blessing for his shirts. Another discovered they had a mutual acquaintance, the Chabad emissary in San Diego. But Tiefenbrun is careful to note that his clothing choices are his alone and not emblematic of any Chabad-specific trend.

“It’s not like it’s a Chabad thing; it’s me,” Tiefenbrun insisted. “I love art. I love quality clothing.”

With its sprawling global network of emissaries working to inspire religious observance among secular Jews, it’s perhaps little surprise that Chabadniks are practically alone within the chasidic world in pushing the boundaries, if gently, of their community’s dress codes.

“One can make the case Chabad, more than any other chasidic group, is in direct contact with the non-chasidic world, so they have a real good feel for that world outside,” Heilman said. “They have learned how to recruit there.”

Sacho said there is little interest in his stylish kapotas from members of other chasidic communities. Chabad men are selling “a product called Judaism” to the wider world, he said, and that tradition impacts their choice of clothes.

“People will listen and appreciate you more if you dress well and look presentable,” he said.

Within the confines of the chasidic community, however, it’s often a different story. Young customers come in looking for one thing, but then their mother arrives and “chews my ear off,” Sacho said.

But still, Sacho insists the style-conscious community is growing in the Chabad world and someday kapotas like his will be the norm.

“There are quite a few of us,” Sacho said. “All my clients are younger. It’s the future.” 

Mendy Sacho, a South African designer who lives in New York, models his kapota black coat, which has gained media attention.
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