With seven new fashionable shops, what once was a street dedicated to rolls of fabrics, ribbons, and sequins is now becoming a shopping destination in its own right – and just maybe Tel Aviv’s first dedicated LGBTQ quarter of the city
When you talk about Nahalat Binyamin Street, the first thing that comes to mind is the pedestrian-friendly, cobblestone rue lined with fabric merchants, and the bi-weekly artists’ market. But the extensive street, which continues much further down south into Florentin, has become one of the city’s culinary spots in the last two years, and now, it’s becoming even more vibrant with stylish shops. In the past year, no less than seven new designer stores have opened alongside each other, and as their owners testify, it is just the beginning.
“What is starting to happen now in the Nahalat Binyamin neighborhood is reminiscent of what happened on Shenkin Street in the 90’s,” says Barak Peretz, owner of the new “ShosPeople” store for unisex street fashion and Tattoos, which opened on Nahalat Binyamin and Kalisher Street. “This part of the street is the next generation of Tel Aviv, and since we arrived, a lot of other designers have begun to check out properties. Eight more stores are about to open in the coming year.”
Ziv Nakva Cohen, the owner of another new store on the street, claims that the popular Shpagat Bar also significantly contributes to its fashionable renewal. Nakva Cohen is part of a group of artists and designers who opened the store Pirsomet Smuya (“hidden advertisement” in Hebrew) in front of Shpagat, which is entirely dedicated to the LGBTQ community.
“We just opened the store and we market all the relevant products for the community, including parties. We decided to open on this street because there is great traffic here,” Cohen says. “Shpagat manages to bring in a very diverse audience of tourists and people from all over Tel Aviv because it is the most popular gay bar in the city. I know there is an expectation that the street will continue to develop, and I feel that something very interesting is about to happen.
One of the first buds of the fashionable awakening on the street is Nir Mizrahi’s shop Venta, which opened about a year ago. “The store is intended for men only, and it incorporates secondhand clothes from Israel and abroad, and collaborations with local artists. We also sell men’s wallets, jewelry and self care products. I try to bring everything that a man needs under one roof,” says Mizrahi, who also sews custom-made shirts.
“There is some kind of gay pilgrimage in the area. Add one more gay bar, and the street will be a bit like those in European cities,” he muses. The Shpagat naturally attracts tourists, with patrons popping by both day and night,” he explains. “Until now everything in Tel Aviv has been scattered throughout the city, but at the end of the day, people like to be in a corner where everything is familiar to them and businesses speak to them in the same language.”
Among the designer stores that use local sewing you can also find stores that import from abroad, such as Estrenar. “The street has changed a lot; what was once a street of fabric s is now a street of designer boutiques,” says Estrenar’s owner, Shon Dudi. “We have a lot of tourists on this street and Shpagat is a kind of focal point that draws everyone here, so we and the rest of the stores also offer things that are specifically aimed at the gay community.”