The high street battle for your fashion budget: Castro vs H&M

Many Israelis have always told me that they believe Israel is the 51st state (or is it 52nd after Puerto Rico?!). I heard this story through a friend the other day and now I must relay it to you because it is the perfect example of the “commercialization” and “Americanization” of Israel.

The friend, who shall remain nameless, was walking down Ibn Gvirol around the Kikar Rabin (Rabin Square) area in Tel Aviv when she noticed a huge H&M billboard. In the sign, a woman is popping out of her turtleneck. Underneath, the Hebrew words, “Sof sof, we’re here.” Slowly, slowly, the international budget-phenom brand H&M makes its way to Israel and its fashion capital, Tel Aviv.

The billboard directly opposite it in the same area is one by Castro, one of Israel’s most popular clothing retail chains. One that hasn’t yet made a dent on the international scene…and perhaps it never will. The sign shows a woman lying in a field of flowers. You can’t see her face clearly. But underneath, the Hebrew letters read “We are the people of the city.”

Looks like Castro is quite nervous about the incoming of H&M. Looks like they are truly afraid of getting pushed out as Israel’s most popular retail brand. More so, it sounds like they are angry over the “Americanization” of Israel and want to hone in on the fact that they are truly “Israeli.”

With the inception of stores like Gap, FCUK, and H&M making their mark on this tiny Middle Eastern country and the fact that Israelis know the English language quite well, watch American and English-speaking TV and movies, often hope to leave the country, and overall, yearn to dress and act like Americans, perhaps stores like Castro are afraid that these Israelis are losing their identity. The essence that truly makes Israelis what they are today.

The culture I love and the reason I moved to this country.

Should we be afraid?


  1. anne

    March 8, 2010 at 6:28 am

    H&M is of Swedish origine Hennes means women. Many Israelis want to feel also part of Europe is that so frightening?

  2. adam

    March 8, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    FCUK is in Israel? Really? Where?

  3. Ashley

    March 8, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    Think FCUK are in Ramat Aviv Mall, just opened a few days ago.

  4. Simona

    March 8, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    It’s in Ramat Aviv mall in Tel Aviv

    Hila Ohayon wrote a great article about it (in Hebrew) in Haaretz,1044,209,45399,.aspx

  5. Pingback: Fashion Battle Royale: Castro vs. H&M « Fashion Israel אופנה ישראלית

  6. roz

    March 8, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    Love the articlulation simona. well put. how very israeli of castro to use jewish guilt “we are the faces of this city” as apposed to them winning us over through superior product claim instead; (which clearly they do not have). I do love their accessories however. In an age where everything is made in taiwan, china, and india, I am curious to see where castro manufactures its items, where they are produced/designed.
    If it was truly all israeli made I would have a soft heart. None the less this reminds me of wallmart comming to the small town=cutting out the little guys.
    How sad. with castro competition i wonder how many will be left without jobs.

  7. Clothing Fashion Follower Megan

    July 14, 2010 at 2:24 am

    Women’s fashion is all about keeping up with the latest trends and keeping your look fresh, but it also about picking and choosing the pieces that are right for you.

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