Boutique Fashion Tours put Young Israeli Designers on the Map

For many people, the term "fashion house" conjures images of stuffy Parisian socialites and a parade of underweight models donning outfits that would hang better on a shower curtain rod than on a real, live human being. But Galit Reismann, founder of TLVstyle, wants to change that. Her business connects individuals and groups to Tel Aviv's fashion scene, with an opportunity for fashion enthusiasts to meet young, up-and-coming designers in their own studios, workshops and apartments.

Reismann's boutique tours attract fashion bloggers and designers, as well as design students and faculty who want a hands-on glimpse into the latest trends. Travel and fashion blogger La Carmina took the TLVstyle tour with Reismann in March and said she "felt so much at home" as she perused the eclectic boutiques in Tel Aviv's Noga District and along Rothschild Boulevard.

"She took us to places that perfectly matched my interest, such as the unique hats and vintage jewelry stores," says Carmina. "The people she introduced me to were so sweet, and we still keep in touch over social media, and I felt a real connection to the fashion scene through her eyes. It was one of the highlights of my Israel trip and provided me with so many inspiring stories, visuals and people. Everything was really relaxed, too. It felt like going shopping with a friend, and yet I soaked up so much knowledge."

One shop in particular, called Pioo Pioo (think laser gun sounds!), had the blogger grinning from ear to ear with its selection of rainbow-themed accessories and subtle-yet-extraordinary details; she raved over designer Mor Bauer's rocketship-print dress with a zipper handle dangling a doll head.

"I instantly felt that designer Mor Bauer and I are kindred spirits," Carmina wrote in her blog. "Absolutely loved her colorful rocketship dress with fringe at the bottom, creating the movement of a blast-off. Her rainbow jewelry would feel at home in Harajuku or Shibuya," the fashion and shopping districts of Tokyo.

With more than 120 students graduating each year from some of Israel's top fashion academies, competition to get to the top of Israel's fashion industry is tough, and Reismann is there to help young designers succeed.

“In Tel Aviv, hipster neighborhoods are springing up constantly, all full of cutting-edge designers anxious to get out there and make their mark," she told From The Grapevine. "My role, as I see it, is to showcase this talent ... And you don't need to do this by bombarding them with information ... Actually, the opposite is true, you can make it fun.”

Reismann came to fashion for the fun, when she saw that her background in marketing and media was interesting to her friends in the fashion industry when they were talking about their jobs.

"So, in my 30s, when I decided to make a career change, it seemed a natural path to choose," she said. She began importing specialty garments and accessories to the U.S while living in the fashion heaven of New York City. But she longed for the Mediterranean rhythm of life in her homeland - Israel.

Reismann eventually left New York to return home to launch TLVstyle.  Her idea was to be a bridge between stylish women and young fashion designers. “Many people are intimidated by fashion,” she said, “and I want them to know it doesn't have to be that way."

TLVstyle, she said, connects international visitors to the local community of designers, who are all working in textiles, accessories and fashion. Some are established designers, and others are emerging, but ready to make their mark on the scene. They all love fashion and are driven to succeed.

"They're also brimming with energy," she added. "And my tours give people a chance to meet them up close and personal.”  

Some of the fashions Galit Reismann shows her clients during her TLVstyle tours. Reismann also wants to convey to the designers that mirroring the styles of European fashion houses is not the only way to be successful – embracing their creativity is key. Many designers she works with are pushing the envelope – one makes vegan-friendly handbags, another a type of "concrete" jewelry. One thing is for sure – it's all very unusual.

So who is Galit's average client? “It's extremely varied,” she laughed. “This is a tour anyone can take – male or female, old or young. Sometimes I'll have a group of 40 women; other days it could be a more intimate group. A few weeks ago, I organized a 'father-daughter' outing – she was due to marry and he wanted them to have some quality time together. Every tour I give is planned according to specific needs. Every client fills out a questionnaire beforehand, detailing their personal interests, so I can 'tailor-fit' the entire experience for them. Sometimes I'll take them to a studio, other times I'll hire a venue and the designer will visit, bringing a few of their favorite creations with them.”

So what do these customers get out of the tour? “All different things,” Reismann said. “Some clients are very busy, so I help them maximize their time by sourcing out particular pieces for them. Others are shopping addicts ... They just want to buy! And then there are those who are curious; they want to discover and learn."

After the tour, she said, her clients are returning home full of enthusiasm, and they're spreading the word.

"Maybe in the future, I'll be thinking about taking these Israeli designers to the U.S., perhaps as a traveling exhibition, or in some 'pop-up' events," she said. "My mission is well under way.”