Step right in

Leather goods designers Kilav and Kor have opened a new store that feels more like a welcoming home.

Ady Kilav and Avigayil Kor 311 (photo credit: Avi Waldman)
Ady Kilav and Avigayil Kor 311
(photo credit: Avi Waldman)
Being hosted by Ady Kilav and Avigayil Kor is a pleasant experience. In fact, spending time in their South Tel Aviv store is so enjoyable, it’s easy to forget to shop. The lovely furniture, the art wall (currently boasting the fabulous miniatures of Dan Uziel), the soothing color scheme and the deluxe designer washroom are back-up dancers for the duo’s shoes and handbags. However, they alone are worth making a trip downtown.
“When we were designing the store,” explains Kilav as he ushers me towards the chandelier-lit loo, “we were told that two things we had to invest in were a bathroom and living-room furniture. When people come here, they spend a lot of time in the store looking around and trying on different pairs of shoes and handbags. Shoe shopping has a bit more weight, timewise, than clothes shopping, so we had to make the environment extra welcoming.”
Kilav and Kor opened this location, their second, four months ago. Their first shop, a 4x4 meter lofted space in Jerusalem, had already begun to draw a large clientele.
For both, the business of leather shoes and bags is a second career. Kilav, a grandfather of three, ran a company that provided services for architects and engineers. A religious man, he accents his purple checked shirt and gray slacks with a simple knitted kippa. One year ago, he decided to close the shop and make his passion come to life. He began designing leather goods, mainly shoes.
Recognizing the need for an outside eye, he started to look for a partner, someone who would complement his tomboy-chic aesthetic. After receiving a recommendation from a friend, he approached Kor. With a shock of white hair highlighting her otherwise black bob, Kor’s appearance is effortlessly stylish and unforgettable.
The mother of four, Kor had worked as an accountant before leaving that profession to pursue her longtime dream of being a designer. When Kilav approached her, Kor had just finished her studies at Hagilda: Workshop for Shoe and Bag Design in South Tel Aviv. The two immediately recognized the beginning of a beautiful friendship and set out on a joint fashion adventure.
That meeting was six months ago. All things considered, their partnership has gone from zero to 180 in no time flat. Today, Kilav and Kor’s shoes and bags are sold in some of Israel’s top stores, such as Comme Il Faut.
Kilav and Kor work exclusively with leather. Their shoes and bags evoke 1950s nostalgia, blending softer feminine touches like the Louis heel, a sweeping thick base with typically masculine forms like the Oxford. Their bags, which are often one-of-a-kind, are made from materials plucked from a variety of leather dealers around Israel. The two prefer textured leather, a commodity that is scarce in the local market. “This bag,” says Kor as she picks up a large purse made of pocked, deep mahogany cow’s leather, “was made of the last piece of this kind of leather that we could find anywhere.” Although they could easily turn to the import market, Kilav and Kor are dedicated to buying and manufacturing local goods. “Everything we make is produced here, in Tel Aviv,” says Kilav.
Another principle in their business is to stick to the micro-collection. Kilav and Kor shoes are not mass produced. A specific design, like the asymmetrical Oxfords with mismatched red and white laces, will be made into 15 pairs. And when those are sold, that’s it.
“We don’t want to flood the market with our designs. The blackand- white Oxfords we are selling now are classics,” explains Kilav. That said, once they’re gone, you won’t see them again. We’ll sell a different black-and-white shoe for certain, but it will look different.”
Though their price range speaks to the middle-upper class shopper (NIS 790 and up for shoes; up to NIS 1,900 for bags), Kilav and Kor’s customer base is surprisingly wide. Ranging from university students to grandparents, Kilav and Kor’s fans are women who like to make a statement. They provide quirky twists on classic silhouettes. as well as an exuberant color palette for the daring dresser.
“Our Jerusalem store is right next to the Bezalel School of Design,” says Kilav, “which is great because students really understand the art that goes into making these shoes. Last week, a student came into the store and picked up a pair of orange boots with hot-pink stitching. She told me, ‘I need these shoes, and this is all the money I have.’ I can’t even tell you how much she offered compared to the price but, of course, I sold them to her.”
In the coming seasons, Kilav and Kor plan to offer a wider range of goods including men’s shoes, wallets and accessories.
Kilav and Kor shops are located at 26 Alfasi Street in Tel Aviv and 6 Shatz Street in Jerusalem. For more information, call (03) 518-1566.