‘Transformations’ line moves fashion forward

Ahava Zarembski combines stylistic flair with progressive feminist ideals to redefine women’s perception of beauty.

EACH PIECE bears a tag with a message of positivity, an encouraging message the wearer can take with her throughout the day. (photo credit: TRANSFORMATIONS)
EACH PIECE bears a tag with a message of positivity, an encouraging message the wearer can take with her throughout the day.
(photo credit: TRANSFORMATIONS)
When one thinks of the fashion industry, “self-actualization” and “female empowerment” are not usually among the terms that come to mind.
Israeli designer Ahava Zarembski is working to change that singlehandedly with her first line, “Transformations.”
The passionate, high-energy, Philadelphia native entered the fashion industry with the aim of giving women back their voices and combating the negative messages and female stereotypes that are pervasive in the industry. She puts a great deal of thought into her creations, a casual wear clothing line, that are artistic and funky. Most important, Zarembski aims to infuse them with positivity and meaning while keeping them chic and trendy.
“My customers should know that beauty comes from a deeper place. They should feel free to share their voices and be brave [enough] to live boldly,” says the designer.
These positive messages are inherent in her design – literally: In the tag of each piece, she places a poem with an encouraging message, to invigorate the wearer in taking on the day’s challenges. Zarembski explains that for many women, there is a correlation between wearing something that feels good, and maintaining an optimistic perspective. For the most part, when a woman feels good about what she is wearing, she feels powerful, capable and revitalized.
Zarembski intentionally mixes textiles that contrast with one another – such as chiffon and heavier materials like suede – to highlight that a person’s contrasting qualities are part of what makes that person beautiful.
And she incorporates layers of sheer materials to symbolize the complexity of the human personality.
But most important to her is the ideal of women using clothing to reclaim ownership of their bodies and self-worth.
“Like many other women, growing up, I would compare myself to others around me or try to conform to fit society’s rigid standards of beauty,” she says. “After going through life, developing, and transforming myself, I have come to accept and appreciate my own beauty as an individual and believe that every woman’s uniqueness is what makes her most beautiful. There is not one ideal standard of beauty. I hope my customers can see that they are beautiful from the inside out.”
For this reason, she also does not use the typical sizes of “small,” “medium” or “large,” Instead, she uses actual measurements. Not only is the fit more customized this way, there is less of a stigma associated with the clothing size.
“This makes clothing less about ‘What does person X think of me?’ or ‘Am I bigger or smaller than person Y?’ and more about how one feels as an individual in the clothing,” she says.
She argues that while many forms of feminism take the body out of the equation, her ideal is to be proud of the body, flatter it, and at the same time recognize that a person is more than just a body. Her line is designed to playfully draw attention to flattering areas in a way that is “funky, edgy and mindful.”
On her website, a carpet skirt with an angled back and sheer front bears the description: “When all is revealed, and there is a flirtatious play between that which I choose to show to the world, and that which I choose to not.”
In addition to female empowerment through fashion, she is passionate about environmentalism in the fashion industry. As an individual who is naturally environmentally conscious, she became concerned when she realized the massive amount of waste that the industry produces.
“When making a piece, tons of scraps of material are left over,” she says. “These scraps are usually thrown out in a way that is not as resourceful as it could be. In addition, the process of dyeing clothing is extremely toxic and also leaves a dangerous amount of residue.”
To try and resolve these issues, she gives scraps to underprivileged schools in Philadelphia, and she is looking into growing plants for dyeing her clothing on empty urban plots of land that cannot be used for urban gardening due to high lead content. These initiatives put her conscience at ease, since she is making the most of available resources, benefiting as many people as possible, and causing less harm to the environment.
At present, she has two studios, one in Tel Aviv and one in Philadelphia, where she produces and sells her line. She also holds “salons,” in which groups of women come and shop as a social event while enjoying a cup of coffee and pastries.
“Transformations is mostly about sisterhood and building community,” she says. “As women, we should support each other rather than compare. I want this to be the new ideal.”