The future of clothes shopping is going back in time


Liat is perusing a large shelf of denim shorts in one of Tel Aviv’s larger vintage stores and is already holding a black, beaded corset top that she wants to buy. She says she’s a regular vintage buyer.

“Sustainability is something that concerns me. But I can also find good branded jeans at a vintage store for about a third of the price I would buy new. And I feel like a lot of people I know shop at the same stores and buy the same things. I don’t want to go somewhere and find myself wearing the same thing as someone else. If I buy vintage, that doesn’t happen.”

A large and growing part of the younger part of the Israeli population seems to think the same way. Because of this, vintage clothing stores are springing up on shopping streets across the country, and particularly in fashionable Tel Aviv, and thriving alongside the regular boutiques.

Resale is an integral part of the future of retail. According to experts in the fashion world, it should outsell fast fashion within 10 years. In the last three years, used clothing sales have grown 21 times faster than mainstream retail. The global second-hand fashion market is said to be worth $130 billion. It is projected to reach $218 billion by 2026.

A vintage shop curates its clothing collection with care. Clothing is officially vintage when it is over 20 years old. Labels and quality are important. Retailers source their items from all over the world. You can travel to find them or shop near their home for suitable items.

Currently, most vintage clothing is from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. When it’s over 100 years old, clothes become antiques, which is a whole different market. Vintage clothing will be priced well below a new equivalent, and there are extreme bargains out there, but vintage clothing stores aren’t social enterprises — they’re like regular retailers and can be just as profitable. The global vintage clothing market is expected to grow from $119 billion this year to $218 billion in 2026. The surcharge on individual items can easily be 80 to 90 percent.

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(It’s important to distinguish between thrift shops and vintage shops. The former are often run by charities and receive donations of clothing from the public, which they then put on shelves and rails and sell at discounted prices. The Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO ) has stores like this across Israel, including one in Tel Aviv at 35 King George Street, and donates the profits to help vulnerable women and children.)

‘Vintage’ for a reason

Maayan Yedidya is considered one of the leaders of the vintage movement in Israel. She runs her business from Rosh Pina as both a physical store and an online studio based on Instagram. In the last seven years she has built up a large and loyal customer base.

When asked how she decides what to stock, Yedidya says, “I choose clothes based on several parameters – quality, style, years, types of fabric. I see vintage as the preservation of fashion history and as a personal fashion statement by the wearer. You can always buy fast fashion with one click at cheap prices – but in this world everyone wears the same thing.

“As a woman coming from the world of styling and image making, it’s important to me to engage in fashion with value and quality,” she explains. “A garment that has survived 30 years or more doesn’t meet the definition of vintage without reason. It has been well preserved due to the quality of the fabric, the sewing and the person who took care of it.”

Vintage Outfit, Rosh Pina, September 2022 (Fawa Vintage)

Vintage Outfit, Rosh Pina, September 2022 (Fawa Vintage)

Not every true vintage shop has survived the COVID lockdowns, and some veterans of Tel Aviv’s vintage scene appear to have closed their doors permanently. But there are at least a dozen vintage shops dotted around the city, and shops are opening elsewhere too – in Haifa, Jerusalem, Pardes Hana, Even Yehuda, Herzliya, Or Yehuda and Beit Shemesh, for example.

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For those who don’t have a vintage shop within reach, there are Hebrew-only vintage groups on Facebook and Instagram. They offer hundreds of items for sale to thousands of members every day. In the past few weeks, they’ve had a Gucci bag for NIS 100 ($29), a pair of Christian Dior branded mules for NIS 50 ($15) and a kibbutz shirt, more expensive at NIS 480 ($140), among many other items.

Global online marketplaces like Depop, Vinted (which currently do not ship to Israel) and eBay, which offer vintage clothing through peer-to-peer sales, have grown phenomenally. Depop now has 26 million users in 150 countries, 90% of them under the age of 26, with 32 million items for sale and up to 140,000 new listings per day. It is no longer a marginal retailer.

Addicted surfing

While many choose to shop online, there’s nothing quite like stepping into Aladdin’s Lair, which is the vintage store, and coming out with something truly unique and loved.

A view through the window of Tel Aviv’s vintage store Hayo Haya on Ben Yehuda Street, August 2022 (Danielle Nagler/Times of Israel)

The vintage shopping process of hunting through clothes, each item different and only available in one size, can be addicting. About 65% of those who bought their first second-hand item a year ago want to quit fast fashion, and Israel’s diverse range of vintage choices makes it a no-brainer. In a study looking at the behavior of Gen Z and Millennials (born between 1983 and 2003) globally, 45% say they refuse to shop from unsustainable brands and retailers, and over 40% already have Second-hand clothes, shoes or accessories bought last year.

Social media influencers are also injecting energy and enthusiasm into Israel’s growing vintage sector. Maya Oshri Cohen (who describes herself as a fashion journalist and vintage blogger) has over 43,000 followers on Instagram and also has a popular TikTok page where she and her friends pose in vintage finds from across Israel.

Better.be.second is run by Or Ben Ami Adar, who exclusively shops in vintage stores and shares her looks with more than 9,000 followers, while Emily Gal mixes vintage looks with videos of her vegan recipes.

Color-coded clothes racks in a vintage shop in Tel Aviv, August 2022 (Danielle Nagler/Times of Israel)

Instead of having shelves with the same outfit in different colors and sizes, Tel Aviv vintage shops encourage consumers to pick a color and explore, or identify an item they need and browse to find the right option. Every business is different, although they know where their customers like to be online and as such share a trend towards advertising through social media rather than more traditional platforms.

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At Buy Kilo on Tel Aviv’s Herzl Street, clothes are color-coded (based on value), each color has a price per kilo, and you pay by weight. There are scales to check the price before buying.

Buy Kilo Vintage Store on Herzl Street, Tel Aviv, August 2022 (Danielle Nagler/Times of Israel)

Flashback is Tel Aviv’s largest vintage store and has overflowed and expanded into a second store a few doors down on King George Street.

Aside from its multicolored entrance, it offers mainstream vintage clothing options from the 1950s to 1990s, and some upcycled old pieces (where older clothing is redesigned to make it fashionable today) for those looking for the latest trends.

Flashback, Tel Aviv’s largest vintage store, on King George Street, August 2022 (Danielle Nagler/Times of Israel)

But it’s Aderet/Argaman that really shows the breadth that vintage can cover.

Aderet, which is jointly owned and located next to each other in Bograshov, sells everyday vintage clothing at prices from around NIS 30 to NIS 80. Next door in Argaman, the designer labels are on display. You can find a hand-painted silk skirt for NIS 450 ($131) or a Marchesa evening dress for NIS 350 ($102).

Designer dress at Argaman Vintage Store, Tel Aviv, August 2022 (Danielle Nagler/Times of Israel)

Although the clothes racks in many vintage shops are full and often jam-packed, you’ll often see bags of new merchandise in a back corner, waiting to be appraised; The only certainty is that the contents of these bags will differ from what is already available in the store. Vintage shop customers almost always buy multiple items, knowing that they will not find the same items cheaper elsewhere and that there is no chance of coming back another day to find the same items again.

There are still no signs that the desire to shop regularly in Israel is waning. The shopping centers continue to be well frequented and are being further expanded.

But as the age group concerned about fashion sustainability grows and dominates the retail market, the vintage clothing scene seems to continue to grow.





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