Israeli Products of the Week / Clutches to Embrace

Looking for a handle-less handbag? Try these plastic, wooden or Dead Sea-inspired versions.

In the past, it seemed clutch handbags came out of a woman’s closet only on special occasions: a wedding, bar mitzvah or possibly a hot date. These days, though, clutches seem to be having more fun as modern ladies shed their bulky bags at night, grab the handy handbags and go, with just a wallet, keys, phone and lipstick. The bags themselves are also more fun: They seem to be available in more shapes, sizes and materials than ever before – and at least a few Israeli designers have contributed to that fashionable phenomenon.

The Israeli fashion accessories market got a splash of color and innovation in 2009, when designers Gili Rozin Tamam and Adi Gal founded their handbag line, MeDusa. The duo met at the Shenkar College of Engineering and Design, where they embarked on a journey to create something truly innovative from a remarkably ordinary material: plastic.

MeDusa’s clutches and other handbags (including some for men) use vibrantly colored processed plastic that is imprinted with different shapes – think flowery and other ornamental details – and sculpted into different sizes. The resulting handbags, a true hybrid of contemporary and classic, blend traditional shapes with modern textures.

MeDusa’s bags have been spotted around Israel – both at leading clothing and design shops and on the arms of some of the most fashion-forward locals out there, and they have deservedly gotten plenty of attention from fashionistas worldwide as well.

Prices vary; sold at online retailers, including Bottica.com and at MeDusa’s own online shop

Orli Tesler and Itamar Mendelovitch are another design duo united by destiny, but in their case, while studying textile design. Like MeDusa, Tesler Mendelovitch’s clutches also use an everyday material to create something pretty astonishing: a new textile they call “wearable wood.”

Using a combination of traditional craftsmanship and modern technology, their limited-edition purses, crafted from 100% wood and lined with leather, are quite a sight: rigid yet flexible, natural yet urban.

Tesler says that the clutches, which comes in different veneers, have an added benefit: They just plain feel good. “We both believe that every material has its own chi, or its own energy,” she explains in a video on the designers’ site. “Wood is just something that really makes the body connect more to nature…and when you wear it rather than just live in it or use it as a table, when you actually wear it on your body or hold it, it makes you feel good.”

Prices vary; available at Tesler Mendelovitch’s online shop



Lee Coren, a Jaffa-based textile designer, garners inspiration from two elements: her local urban surroundings and her need to get away from them sometimes.

Once Coren’s eye spies a unique pattern – in anything from the curve of a mailbox to the Arizona desert – she photographs it, then screen-prints it onto the fabric used to craft her line of clutches, tote bags and billowy scarves.

The image printed on her Dead Sea clutch features a breathtaking landscape – rugged rocks and serene water – washed in pink and purple tones from a sunset she saw during a trip to the area. “I love being able to bring pastoral moments and escapism into my busy everyday urban life,” she says. Just looking at the bag prompts one to take a breath of fresh air – and, on some days, to even want to climb into it.

$66 at leecoren.com or her online shop

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