Israeli Passion for Fashion

Israeli Passion for Fashion - 614 eZine - Vol 6, Issue 4

Why two Jewish siblings ignored their parents’ advice to find practical jobs and instead became fashion designers

by Orit Arfa

Inside the waiting area of Gypsy05’s solar-powered plant in downtown L.A., walls are decorated with brightly colored dresses and T-shirts alongside decorative hamsas, fashion magazine clippings, a "blessing of the business" in Hebrew, a picture of the Rebbe and certificates of recognition from American Solar Energy Solutions.

The display reflects Gypsy05’s values: Israeli entrepreneurship, Jewish idealism, environmental awareness, American and Israeli patriotism, and a love of comfort and glamour.

Gypsy05 grew out of sabra Dotan Shoham’s dye company, Pacific Blue, which he founded not long after coming to the United States 16 years ago with just a few hundred dollars in his pocket. Starting out in the garment business, he used his knack for chemistry to experiment with dying techniques that were considerably more eco-friendly than traditional techniques.

"I care about the environment," Dotan said. "Maybe it’s important for me because I surf, and I go to the ocean a lot, and I see what goes back into the ocean, so it’s important for me to be careful."

His sister, Osi, joined Dotan’s dye house in 2002 with an MBA under her belt and a pent-up love for fashion. Together, they created Gypsy05 in 2005. Today, the brand, whose colorful, airy cotton and silk dresses and T-shirts evoke a connection to earth and water, have been worn by starlets Zoe Saldana, Ashley Tisdale, Nicky Hilton, Nikki Reed and others. Gypsy05 billboards appear on L.A.’s trendiest boulevards.

"It was always my true passion because I was always enamored with fashion," Osi said. "But we were Jewish kids so we were always encouraged to do something practical."

Their Jewish upbringing inspires the company’s social awareness. Still very much connected to their homeland, the siblings are supporters of the Israeli Leadership Council and the Israel Film Festival.

"The more we’ll grow and achieve and be successful," Dotan said, "the more we’ll be able to contribute to our surroundings."

The article above was reprinted with permission from The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles.

Three Questions for Dotan Shoham
by the HBI staff

How does your Jewish upbringing inspire your fashion choices and/or the way you run the company?

Family is such an important part of Jewish tradition, and that definitely influences how we run the company. We treat our colleagues as family. We eat together, we celebrate together, and we always enjoy the company of those around us. Our Jewish upbringing in Israel also inspires us to actively contribute to society. Giving back to the community is extremely important to us; it is all part of the Karmic flow&#8212something that we all embrace at Gypsy. Gypsy05 designs also incorporate organic fabrics, organic soy softeners, low impact dyes, and seaweed extract printing in every collection. As part of our mission in environmental awareness, Gypsy05’s headquarters is the first completely solar-powered dyeing, printing, and manufacturing facility in Los Angeles.

Where does the name Gypsy05 come from?

Gypsy05 was established in the spring of 2005. We gather inspiration from all over the world, combining elements from many different cultures and environments to create styles for the contemporary nomad. We are always changing and evolving with new colors and dye techniques. Our designs also reflect the Southern California lifestyle with a focus on effortless, comfortable fashion.

How would you say women’s fashion is different in Israel than the U.S.?

Israeli style is more influenced by European fashions than U.S. fashions, although American brands are starting to become more important in Israel. Women’s fashion is less conservative in Israel. The weather gets hot, and people wear less. They are comfortable with their bodies, and they are not afraid of color.

The beauty of fashion in Israel is the way people incorporate pieces from all over the world into their wardrobe. After the army, many Israelis take time to travel and they return with unique styles from different cultures. For example, it is not uncommon to see someone wearing fisherman pants from Thailand or a top from India. The blending of cultures is a large part of Israeli fashion and likewise it is an inspiration for our designs at Gypsy.

To check out clothing from Gypsy05, visit

About the Author

Orit Arfa
Orit Arfa is a regular contributor to The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles and The Jerusalem Post. To learn more about her, visit

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