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Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Shmattes and Splendor

Some clothing is more equal than others

Anyone who has been in the child-rearing game for any length of time is familiar with the merciless natural selection that takes place in our kid's wardrobes.  Not only are we aware of it, but we actively plan for it.

For the most part, there are two basic classes of clothing:

Shmattes or Splendor

Unless a family is incredibly wealthy, clothes that are destined for the battlefield playground are bought in bulk from purveyors of cheap Asian shmattes (Yiddish for rags).  These play clothes tend to be brightly colored, and are invariably emblazoned with improbably spelled words & slogans that are meant to conjure Ivy League sports associations... but which more often than not suggest mental illness 

These shmattes we so readily put on our children are probably assembled/sewn by child labor, made of toxic waste and last, at most, a few months before disintegrating.

We don't care.

The alternative is to send our kids out into the world naked... or dressed in their 'good' clothes on weekdays.  We can't very well send them to join the daily battle wearing expensive name-brand clothes (G-d forbid) now can we?  We'd have to kill them when they came home (as you know they would) covered in ketchup, ice cream and blood, and with scraped knees and elbows showing proudly through large, ragged holes.

Which brings us to Splendor... variously known as 'yontiff outfits', 'your good clothes' and 'that nice dress grandma and grandpa sent you'.  This refers to clothing designed so nicely and made so well that, with care... and proper threats, it can be handed down to a multitude of siblings, nieces and nephews.

I remember when Ari and Gili were young, my parents did a house swap with a Parisian couple.  They went to live for a few weeks in Paris (my parents, not Ari & Gili) while this other couple got to live in my parent's beach house in Westport.  I think both couples came away thinking they got the better end of that deal. 

I'm telling you this story because when my mom and dad came back from Europe, they brought with them gifts for our kids of the most beautifully made clothing.  It wasn't just that it looked nice.  It was made well... rich material.... nicely lined and finished... adorned with fine buttons and snaps.  The real deal.

When Ari and Gili outgrew those Parisian clothes, they were still in such good shape that we were able to hand them down to the children of family and friends.  To this day Yonah is still wearing some of the Paris togs.  And they still look new.   

Now, you can't chalk up the durability of these clothes entirely to the threats and pleading of the parents.  After all, kids will be kids.  Even on Shabbat and holidays they are rough on their things, and Yonah is rougher than most.  No, threats play a role... but the quality of the material and fabrication play the biggest part in how long they last.

So why don't we all send our kids out in well made clothing every day?  For the simple reason that most of us can't afford to. 

Oh sure, once the kids hit Jr. High School and have some sense of what they're wearing, we can't get away with buying them the off-brand stuff. But elementary school?  Here you go sweetie... go try on this matching sweatshirt and sweatpants with clashing appliques that say "Princetin Varcity Krew".

A couple of weeks ago I got an email from a gentlemen who was doing online marketing via social media (blogs, twitter, etc.), for a new line of clothing stores called EPK.  He wanted to know if I'd like to come down to one of their stores and give them a write-up on my blog.

[Full disclosure on my policy regarding doing book reviews and product/service write-ups:  I frequently get emails from people asking if they can send me a review copies of a book or a sample of some product in hopes that I will give them a positive plug on my blog.  I always inform them up front that I do not like to do negative reviews or hatchet jobs.  Unless a product personally offends me or physically hurts me, chances are if I don't like it I'll simply toss it out and move on.  So from that respect they are pretty safe.  And if I happen to actually like the book or product, I'll do a write-up.  That's the deal... take it or leave it.  Yes, I know this makes me a whore.]

Anyway, back to the clothing store.  Their market niche is that their lines are designed in France and made from European fabrics and materials... but assembled in the far east under the supervision of a their own Quality assurance team.  The idea being that they can offer children's clothing whose quality is fairly high... but with competitive pricing.

I was dubious, but he offered to show us around the store personally and sweetened the deal with an offer of some samples.  Did I mention I'm a whore (albeit a principled one)?  Just checking.

So on a sunny Friday morning, Zahava and I took Yonah for a ride down to the Herzliya Marina Mall where we were welcomed by Moises Cohen. 

The Store itself is nicely set up to show off the current lines.  This is an important point.  Many stores try to maximize every square meter by putting out so much product that you can't see the trees for the forest (or is the other way around... I forget).  EPK has their current lines on display.  That's it.  And there is enough room to walk around so that you can see the clothing without having to take it off the rack.

EPK

Because there is only the current season's lines on display in the store, it's going to be hit or miss as far as taste goes.  But their lines include sporty and more dressy directions, so there should be something for most tastes. 

Zahava pointed out that their clothes were extremely well made (she's a seamstress and knows about such things)... so while the price tags are well above the crazy, randomly-spell-checked shmatte range, the quality is better than comparably priced GAP stuff.  Simply put, this stuff is made to last.

24

One of the things we had wanted to buy for Yonah while we were in the US recently were some 100% cotton Pajamas... but we never quite got around to it.  The reason we were looking there (rather than here)was that most of the PJs you find here in Israel are a blend (at best) or pure synthetic (at worst).  So we were delighted to find that EPK had some 100% cotton ones in stock.  The question was, would Yonah like them:

PJs
What do you think?   He wanted to wear them out of the store! 

With a hat thrown in for good measure, Yonah was finally Persuaded to put his clothes back on, and we thanked Moises for the tour... and for the nifty (glow-in-the-dark) PJs.

Would I shop at EPK for day-to-day play clothes for Yonah?  Probably not.  These are not shmattes by any stretch of the imagination.  But looking purely at value for money, I would certainly shop EPK (they have stores in most of the big city alls here in Israel) for his shabbat, holiday or special occasion-wear. 

Just before we left, Moises dropped mentioned something that got Zahava's attention:  EPK's Natanya branch (Poleg) is their close-out outlet where they blow out all of last-season's lines from the other Israeli stores.  So if you have a Yonah at home who is rough on his/her clothing or (like Zahava) you are reluctant to pay full bust-out retail... that might be a good solution.

So as I said at the outset... some clothing is indeed more equal than others.  In my book, EPK is way down at the 'Splendor' end of the spectrum... and is an excellent alternative to having friends and relatives mule back European and American goods.  In fact, here's a free marketing idea for Moises:

Set up an e-commerce website where grandparents, aunts and uncles in Europe and the US can buy their Israeli relatives gift certificates that can be redeemed in any of the Israeli outlets. 

Stores:

Jerusalem:  Malcha

Hod HaSharon:  Sharonim (just opened)

Natanya: Poleg (this is their outlet store)

Herzliya:  Marina Mall

Ashdod:  Star Center

Haifa:  Opening in October

Don't thank me... I'm a giver!):

Posted by David Bogner on September 7, 2010 | Permalink

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And there stores would be located ... where? Is there a website?

Posted by: amechad | Sep 7, 2010 3:29:12 PM

amechad... I'm kicking myself because Moises gave me a nice brochure with all their store locations, phone numbers and hours. I can't find the damned thing, and at present I don't think they have a working web-site. I know they have a store in Malcha (Jerusalem), and the one where we were in Herzliya. They also have the outlet in Ra'anana. And I think I recall there is a store in Haifa. I'll email him and hopefully he'll come post the info for himself.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Sep 7, 2010 3:32:22 PM

Think there is a store in Netanya too. In fact, thought that is where Moises said the outlet was (got me thinking about a combined Ikea/EPK run)....

A big plus in my book is that the clothes are obviously designed for kids, both in terms of the style and the construction. These are kids' clothes -- as opposed to adult styles/trends rescaled for smaller bodies. The seams use good quality threads (as opposed to the cheap nylon stuff which drive kids with sensory issues to distraction) and seem to be reinforced in all the proper places.

Posted by: zahava | Sep 7, 2010 4:06:00 PM

And if I happen to actually like the book or product, I'll do a write-up. That's the deal... take it or leave it. Yes, I know this makes me a whore.]

Nah, that just makes you no different than any other Sox or Yankee fan. ;) Sorry, couldn't help myself.

Posted by: Jack | Sep 7, 2010 8:45:33 PM

I love your definition of shmattes and of yourself! Shanah tovah to you and your family.

Posted by: Ilana-Davitata | Sep 7, 2010 10:02:56 PM

I lobe your definition of shmattes and of yourself! Shanah tovah to you and your family.

Posted by: Ilana-Davitata | Sep 7, 2010 10:02:56 PM

That is so funny about the pjs - here in Los Angeles they sell 100% cotton pjs from Israel. How odd you can't find them there. . .

Posted by: nanaloshen | Sep 12, 2010 8:27:55 AM

That is so funny about the pjs - here in Los Angeles they sell 100% cotton pjs from Israel. How odd you can't find them there. . .

Posted by: nanaloshen | Sep 12, 2010 8:27:55 AM

I love cotton pjs. They are comfortable and better than synthetic. I'm glad Yonah liked to wear them.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bDNMuA795U And getting them here instead of Israel is bad. Thanks for the information.

Posted by: Kids Wear | Nov 19, 2010 9:06:08 AM

I like the cotton dress very much. I also found this article quite interesting , I really never heard about such things, really great, I also hope that many people do like this post

Posted by: debt consolidation | Apr 20, 2011 7:56:16 AM

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