Creator of the first fashion boutique: 54 years ago I brought France to Israel
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IreneFashion– this was the name of the first fashion boutique in Israel with clothes from France, opened on Nachalat Benyamine Street in Tel Aviv. It was opened in 1971 by a new repatriate from Marseille, Irene Efrati. On the eve of March 8, we are talking with a woman who invited French fashion to Israel and changed the face of the country forever.
-I came to Israel in 1969 to see and get to know the country, but I met my future husband Raphael here, – says Irene. – We got married a month later.
In Marseille, I ran a small fashion store for my parents. Although it was a district store, the assortment there was excellent – always fashionable and very high quality – after all, this is France.
In Israel, the first years were very difficult for me – I intensively studied Hebrew and searched the streets for fashionably dressed, well-groomed women familiar to my look. I coped with the first task, and the second – I realized that I must make an effort to solve it.
So I started looking for a place for my shop, where I decided to sell fashionable and non-standard European clothes. And in 1971, the first boutique in the country appeared on Nachalat Benyamin Street in Tel Aviv, where I personally brought the first clothes from France and England. I brought elegant suits, thin shirts, puffy dresses to the country, all made of high-quality and natural fabrics – there were no such clothes in Israel.
And today I meet women who remember that very first Irene boutique. on Nahalat Benyamin, they tell me that they went into the store as if into a museum – nowhere else in Israel could one see such unusual and fashionable things. These women are still customers of my store today, and today they are just as happy with their new outfits as they were many years ago.
In 1989, our Irene boutique moved to the Tel Aviv Gan a-Ir shopping center, where it is located today. And soon we brought the brand of elegant German clothes GerryWeber to Israel. This is how our business became the House of Brands, uniting the German brand Gerry Weber and Italian, French and other brands under the banner of Irene.
And today our multi-brand stores are located in the same in Tel Aviv and in the closed shopping complex “Mamilla” on the top floor on Mamilla Avenue in Jerusalem.
Of course, my business would not have become so successful and would not have lived for 52 years if the whole family did not support me and help me.
My husband got a prestigious job in the Israeli aviation industry but soon left to help me develop my fashion stores – I became a mother of three children and I needed help in running a business. And all these years my husband and I have been working together.
Today, my children have grown up, received demanded specialties, and one of them – Shirley – joined our business, along with her husband Ben. For several years now I have been passing on my experience to her and preparing for the fact that the case will pass to her.
Of course, you need to do what you love for many years in order to gain experience and understand clothes at a glance – whether it will be comfortable, whether Israeli women will love it, whether it will be sold. And now, together with my daughter, every month and a half we go to Italy, France, Canada to buy clothes – new collections arrive in our boutiques every 2-3 weeks.
And I'm still excited about meeting new collections. I still breathe fashion and love it as much as I did when I was a young Frenchwoman from Marseille.
I can already see that Shirley and I have similar tastes, but hers is fresher and more modern. The future I dream of: Shirley runs the business, and I host all my big and beloved family at home – three children and grandchildren, I feed them deliciously and we spend the happiest time of all possible together. And clients still often come to our stores in search of beautiful European clothes, and all the same clients leave satisfied – they found what they were looking for.
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