Dafna Lustig had no intention of stopping her search for the perfect garment when she became a mother. The fashion critic and writer feels there is no reason to drag toddlers to stores, but this was not just a practical decision she made as the mother of a two-year-old who does not like shopping. In fact, she prefers to buy clothes online.
When Lustig was searching for a virtual guide for the perplexed, to help her decide where to shop for clothes and accessories for her daughter, Lily, she was disappointed to find there was no such website for the Israeli market.
Instead of despairing, she decided to create one on her own.
Lustig, 32, is a busy woman. Apart from writing about fashion and music (she used to write for the Walla Internet portal ), she has a music program on Radio 99 and 102FM. She is married to Assaf Harel, an actor and the creator of TV series “Mesudarim.” The couple lives in Tel Aviv. Her blog, babyfashion.co.il (nicely designed by Idit Frank ), has been operating for around six months and is gradually attracting a following of mothers.
Lustig photographs her recommendations for clothes and accessories herself with her iPhone camera. Her daughter and her nephews model for her. The natural look of the photos reflects the spirit of the blog, which does not take itself too seriously. The writing is focused and not overweening.
Frolicking in comfort
Lustig shows up for a meeting in a Tel Aviv cafe very well dressed, as befits a fashion personality, wearing slacks and a leather jacket, both in different shades of mandarin, a Ralph Lauren off-white sweater and an American-flag print scarf around her neck. Her eyes sparkle mischievously behind a pair of sophisticated, nerdy-looking sunglasses, but she gets serious when she starts talking about her blog.
“Since having a daughter, I’ve been flooded by a new area,” she says. “Suddenly I’m being attacked with lots of children’s items. I wanted to know what to buy and not to buy. What is and isn’t worthwhile. I went into [online] forums to find out what kids wear to day care, what’s comfortable, looks good and is natural for kids, but to my surprise I didn’t find any maternal discourse on the subject.”
She says her daughter’s kindergarten teacher told Lustig she sent her daughter dressed in “uncomfortable pants.” But, fear not, Lustig has since bought her daughter tights-fitting jeans and now she can frolic in the mud more comfortably.
On blogs written by mothers in Israel and abroad, Lustig found “long texts about the mother’s most intense experiences.” Her blog, on the other hand, openly state that it is purely about the consumer side of things. “I give answers to questions about whether clothes are worth the money, where to buy and what is worth buying. When there’s a debate over whether to spend NIS 90 on some pants for a child, for example, I want that mother who is standing in the store to feel that I helped her. It’s not cheap, spending NIS 90 on pants to wear to nursery, unless it’s a pair of corduroys and they are thick and warm.”
Lustig thinks the price of children’s clothes, mainly imports, in some stores are too high. She prefers clothes from small businesses and independent designers, also because they are more interesting. At chain stores you can find some good, basic items. The art of mixing things is, after all, a fine skill. She also recommends Internet purchases, and points to specific sites and items she has found.
Her posts suggest different price ranges. So, for example, Lustig will soon present outfits for NIS 200-300 that she feels are unjustified, and others that are available for NIS 40 shekels at the local market.
Lustig is not a fan of applique or prints. In general she is opposed to overly fussy designs or kitschy clothes. In the photos, Lily does not look like a little doll, but like a normal girl dressed in comfortable clothes that are ordinary but good, but also with some kind of twist – for example, purple Puma shoe or heart-shaped sunglasses.
Without saying as much, it seems important to Lustig to promote several other matters – for example, “shattering conceptions of boys’ and girls’ clothes,” as she puts it. In other words, she is against pink or spangles for girls and blue and tractor prints for boys, and always favors unisex clothes.
The second thing that stands out on the blog is the pointed omission of tailoring for children. “I scorn couture for kids, and that’s the case even though I like brand names,” she states. “It’s a mockery to invest hundreds of shekels in children’s clothes. I buy expensive clothes for myself, but I also wear them for years. There is something offensive about this phenomenon. It’s not faithful to what a child needs. The agenda of my blog is that a child should have what he needs – and he doesn’t need a Baby Dior sweater.”
Lustig says part of the blog’s success stems from “its offering normal prices and instilling confidence that you can dress a child without extra expenses.” She says her own approach has changed: “I used to waste money on clothes. Something shifted in my approach. I no longer make purchases compulsively. It’s been a good thing for me.”
A look at her blog shows that Lustig does not always practice what she preaches. For example, she recommends for kids a line of umbrellas by the expensive luggage brand Samsonite, each costing 50 pounds. But she is careful to balance the picture, and also suggests similar umbrellas from toy store Toys-R-Us for NIS 20.
There is something admirable about such a carefully thought-out website. Still, I try to challenge Lustig and ask if she has turned motherhood into a career. Lustig admits frankly that she sometimes also asks herself that question. “In the past, I had a hard time with this, that people who had a child turned him into the center of their world,” she says. “For years I was a music and culture writer. When I’m asked what I do, I think, what should I say? That I’m a blogger on fashion and babies? “But the blog is something I started from nothing,” she adds. “I created it myself and I invest money, effort and time in it. And I believe in it. This overpowers the hesitations. It’s an important experience for me. I’d say that I couldn’t have done something like this before I had a daughter. I wasn’t able to devote myself in this way.
Lustig, who grew up in Kfar Shmaryahu, adds: “As a child, I wasn’t one of those kids who were the best dressed, because my mother really wasn’t into fashion. The most important thing in life for her was comfort – my sister and I wore pants only. It was important to her that we wear cotton shirts and they were bought one size larger so that they’d be comfortable for us.” Only during her adolescence did she rebel, dye her hair red and start to develop her own original sense of style.
From her conversations with other mothers, Lustig realized that today’s children are not the same, and she says she is already preparing herself for all those cute whims that little girls have at the age of 4 or 5. And when it happens she will be there for her daughter with the pinkest tulle skirts, the flutteriest dresses and the shiniest patent-leather shoes – the coolest and best quality around.
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