When an Israeli Pop Star Turns Fashion Designer

Castro’s inspiring new line of men’s fashionwear, designed by singer-songwriter Ivri Lider, is aimed at the 'new Israeli man.’ Don’t expect striped shirts.

A joint effort between the designers at the Israeli fashion house Castro and local pop star Ivri Lider has resulted in a men’s collection that reflects both the musician’s childhood memories and his career, but mainly what the brand wants to present as “the new Israeli man.”

Over the past decade Lider has carved out a niche for himself as one of the foremost representatives of Israel’s gay community while also serving as a trendsetter in terms of Tel Aviv men’s fashion. Lider, who in addition to his thriving solo career is also half of The Young Professionals electronic duo, is a fixture on the annual lists of best-dressed Israelis compiled by the various fashion columnists. He recently decided to flex his creative muscles and also take on the role of fashion designer.

Castro’s new collection for men is the joint result of company designers’ efforts and Lider’s input.

But wait, Lider and the mass-market clothier Castro?

Yes, he says. The idea germinated about two years ago when he showed up at a company runway show. He recalls feeling great chemistry with the designers, and soon enough they were deeply engrossed in a conversation on fashion, a subject close to his heart. The conversation lead to joint work, and a year later he played an active role in formulating the concept, working on the design and even ironing out the little details.

The result? A 26-piece collection of classic items with contemporary flair that can be worn both by day and night. The collection’s focal point is the most important part of Lider’s wardrobe: the white, button-down shirt. “The white shirt is my modern working outfit; it’s the key to the way I dress,” he says.

Therefore, the collection includes no fewer than six versions of it, including a pocket-less, waist-long version with an abbreviated collar and elasticized cuffs. Lider is meticulous about collar length, with an aversion to long ones.

But the white shirt, the collection’s workhorse, is not the only item reflecting Lider’s aesthetic. At the center of the inspirational board Lider constructed with Castro’s designers was also a list of both sides’ favorite cities — including Copenhagen, Tokyo, Berlin, New York and Paris — and, of course, musical inspirations consisting of electro-pop, progressive pop and rock. The end result is also evocative of Lider’s childhood — he born and raised on Kibbutz Givat Haim — and his musical life down to the smallest details: from his initials appearing alongside a number, just the way his clothes would be identified in the kibbutz’s communal laundry, to the fabric rectangle printed with his songs attached to every item.

Lider is both an Israeli artist and a local fashion icon, and therefore “it was important to me to include both elements in the collection,” says Sagiv Galam, a Castro designer. “The whole time I was very aware that Lider would be the collection’s first customer and that he represents the contemporary Israeli man as I see him.”

Lider himself says that his personal wardrobes consists of classical, monochromatic items that he combines with more colorful pieces. According to him, he realized long ago that it is more important to him to find his own fashion truth and wear what he thinks is really right for him than to be trendy. Today, men know what they want to wear, he adds, and it’s essential that they feel comfortable in classic clothing and not have to empty their wardrobes out every few years. Thus, “The collection should be suitable for a wide age range, from 17 to 55 at least.”

Indeed, the collection reflects the concept well and is suited to the needs of the modern Israeli man: on the one hand a series of black T-shirts, and on the other hand a dressier look, including formal items such as button-down shirts, a basic black blazer and straight black slacks. Attention has clearly been lavished on every last detail: The finish is flawless and the comfort level high.

Furthermore, the collection allows one to mix and match for different looks. The elegant black jacket can be traded in for a leather one, appearing in several versions: from a traditional biker’s jacket to a leather piece integrating wool or fleece for a sporty, collegiate look.

The collection’s forays into color netted bright orange and navy blue, whether in top pieces or in the jacket linings, is impeccably executed. In some of the outerwear pieces, Lider insisted on adding colorful stitching to give a more personal and interesting touch to items one would have expected to appear to be all black or in other solids.

The extensive use of pique (waffle weave), beloved of both Castro’s designers and Lider and noticeable in the jackets as well as the slacks, allows for stretch and maximal comfort. Similarly, items that from afar look very stiff and tailored turn out to be soft to the touch and conform to the body, so that they are suitable both for special events and the office.

Without a doubt, the new collection is one of the brand’s best, with evidence of attention having been paid to both the smallest details and the overall needs and desires of the Israeli man, no matter what age. The precision work and high quality are obvious. We can but hope that similar joint ventures continue to appear also in Castro’s line for women.

Prices: Blazer (suit): NIS 600. Slacks (suit): NIS 200-260. Cardigan: NIS 180. Knitwear: NIS 180. Jacket: NIS 360-400. T-shirt: NIS 80-140. Broadcloth shirt: NIS 200-230. Leather coat: NIS 900-1,300. Available at Castro stores from October 10.

Dudi Hasson
Dudi Hasson
Dudi Hasson
Dudi Hasson
Dudi Hasson