Selling her decidedly old-fashioned look — pleated A-line skirts, prim cotton blouses and wide-legged trousers — in a small studio-store full of doilies and overstuffed chairs, she convinced another designer friend, Idit Barak, to open her studio, Delicatessen, in the same neighborhood. And so Barak followed suit, with her retro, subtle skirts, tops and dresses in a more minimalist space, with a studio in back.
"It took until the third year for Gan Hahashmal to become what it is today," said Rosenfeld, who recently reinvented Nait as an atelier, with sleeker, European-style clothing that is geared toward more serious shoppers, and is now located on the second floor of one of Gan Hahashmal's Bauhaus-designed buildings.
Now there are nearly two dozen designer boutiques, as well as several cafes and an organic hummus eatery in the once-gritty district. The early designers generally opened a combination studio-store, looking for an alternative to their cramped apartment work spaces as well as the more standard storefronts on Dizengoff Boulevard and Sheinkin Street, two neighborhoods that have long been home to Israel's burgeoning fashion scene. But now this more alternative district has become the "in" location, with established designers opening their own Electrical District storefronts.
On HaRakevet, the street that acts as the border between the district and the next neighborhood, several larger, professionally designed stores have opened in the last few months, creating what Rosenfeld calls the "new SoHo." These include Closet, Sharon Brunsher, Tes and Shine, which present typical Tel Aviv offerings, a blend of casual sophistication.
Sharon Brunsher sells what she terms "lifestyle objects," mixing old and new pieces all in monochromatic tones, from sweaters and pants to blankets, pillows and notebooks, with each piece tied to the next. Tes, a handbag shop, is next door, while Shine, owned by designer Alice Dahan, also offers a monochromatic theme for its spare line of tissue-thin cottons and narrow jodhpur pants. Closet, at the end of the block, is designer Mirit Singer's version of a complete wardrobe, with a focus on fine knits and embroidered accessories.