fashion outfit 521.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
‘You look great in that,” says the overly perky salesgirl as she insinuates
herself into your mirror space.
“Really, it’s totally versatile. And if
you want, you could always put a belt on it,” she asserts, as if a belt could
magically transform the leopard-print velour moomoo you have on into one of
Sarah Jessica Parker’s jaw-dropping Sex and the City numbers.
the moments that have driven so many women to seek alternatives to shopping in
stores. These are the fractions of an instant when it seems that wearing a
potato sack would be a triumph over the pushy, insincere, gum-chewing army of
retail hawkers in the world. Anything to avoid the hot, crowded dressing rooms
and the artificial smiles designed to sell you something you’ll see yourself
wearing in a photo two months later and cringe. Anything! “I don’t miss stores
one bit,” declared Inbal Boussiba over an iced coffee at Café Noah in central
Tel Aviv. Since launching her online boutique Belle&Sue in October, Boussiba
has officially traded in her shopping bag for a laptop and a credit card. She is
a true Web fashionista, a demographic that is rapidly growing in Israel and
When we met up, Boussiba was wearing a pair of YSL ballet flats
(on sale at www.belleandsue.co.il) and a vintage ring over which she had gone to
war on eBay with a woman from Australia. Her website, whose clientele has
already tripled in number, boasts international brands that are selected and
imported by Boussiba, her twin sister Adi, and a longtime friend of theirs who
lives in New York.
Prior to the inception of Belle&Sue, there was no
site devoted to fashion imports in Israel. “It was only a matter of time until
online shopping became popular here,” said Boussiba. “Israelis absorb trends
very quickly. Look at the number of computers in our country.”
service offers door-to-door delivery, free of the tax hassles that deter most
buyers from shopping on the Internet.
Years ago when online music sales
threatened to close the record stores we all adored, there was an outcry. Could
we really buy an album without the cover art? Could we trade the hours spent
browsing through dusty-smelling, vinyl-lined rooms for the click of a button? It
is perhaps this fear, this disappointment at seeing our local hang-out shut
down, that keeps many people from buying into the thriving online retail
“I’m a sucker for nostalgia. The loss of cover art with online
sales makes me very sad,” said Boussiba. She went on to explain that clothing
and music are opposites when it comes to sentimentality. “Nothing is lost when
you buy clothing online, other than those moments in the store, which I don’t
miss. In the end, you receive the article you purchased,” she said. “Even more
so, as a young mother I’d rather spend my free time taking my son to the beach.
Websites like ours allow women and men to shop on their own time, after work, after the kids are asleep. It frees us
A question Boussiba is often asked about is fit. “What if the shirt
I ordered doesn’t fit well?” Or “What if I don’t like it once it arrives?”
Belle&Sue is more than ready to iron out any kinks in its customers’ buying
process. Its customer service staff has a wealth of knowledge about the
merchandise and about the buying history of each client.
“If I see that a
certain customer bought a size 28 in J Brand jeans three months ago and now has
ordered pants from Cheap Monday, I can tell her to go up one size because that
label runs small, for example,” said Boussiba. “We also have women who send us
photos of themselves and ask for fashion advice, a service we are happy to
The twins are about to depart for New York Fashion Week, where
they hope to fill their goodie bags with pieces that will inspire their local
“We go to New York twice a year to choose items for the coming
season; then we go through an extensive process of trying on the clothes with
our staff, photographing them and writing detailed descriptions of everything,
from the color and the cut to what will look best with the item,” said
In addition, the price and size ranges are deliberately wide.
“Our cheapest item is a tank top that costs NIS 69. The most expensive is a
Charlotte Ronson dress for NIS 1,290, which is an awesome price,” said Boussiba.
“It’s important to us to keep the options open, as we have customers of all ages
from all over the country.”
To close the interpersonal gap created by the
Internet, Belle&Sue is adamant about making the clothing feel accessible to
their clients. “All our photos are of real women, like me – mothers and working
women who want to look good. We never photograph models because our online
market isn’t about that. And we pay a lot of attention to fabric. Our
merchandise is comfortable, relatively simple and self-explanatory.
won’t find anything that would require a salesperson’s help to put on,” boasted
Boussiba. “Overall, I would say it’s the most pleasant shopping experience a
person can have.”