The Jews Who Invented (And Continue To Reinvent) Fashion

Meet the Bloggers Who Are Recreating the Shmattesphere

Funky Cold Medine: Leandra Medine’s blog “The Man Repeller” was named one of Time Magazine’s 25 best blogs in 2012.
Courtesy of Leandra Medine
Funky Cold Medine: Leandra Medine’s blog “The Man Repeller” was named one of Time Magazine’s 25 best blogs in 2012.

By Jason Diamond

Published March 04, 2013, issue of March 08, 2013.
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‘I studied molecular biology and painting, so taking photos and writing about beauty was probably the last thing I ever figured I would do,” Aimee Blaut, 29, tells me of the road she took to founding the popular blog The Formula, a lifestyle site featuring interviews with fashion tastemakers and industry people about their regimens, favorite products and what they think is “in.”

Going from working in labs and performing immunology and neurology research to interviewing and photographing the movers and shakers of the fashion industry isn’t the type of story you hear every day, but as Blaut tells it, it’s really just something that sort of happened. “I’ve always been beauty obsessed, so focusing on that seemed natural. And luckily, someone in my life at the time taught me how to use a camera, and I have been doing it ever since,” she said. Today The Formula is her full-time job, and it has become the go-to source for those interested in what fashion insiders are wearing.

Jews have played a role in every aspect of the American fashion industry since the 19th century, when a wave of European Jews made fortunes opening up department stores in major American cities — from Filene’s in Boston to Goldwater’s in Arizona. In 1853, a German-born Jew named Levi Strauss founded the first company to manufacture blue jeans; immigrants from the shtetl set up custom-made suit shops like J. Press for Ivy League students, captains of industry and Kennedys.

If you needed a Yiddish-speaking tailor in a major city, all you had to do was find the small storefronts or massive factories in Philadelphia, Chicago and New York, where, in 1897, about 60% of the city’s Jewish labor force was employed in the apparel field, and three-fourths of the workers in the industry were Jews.

And today, when there’s a mezuza on nearly every door in New York’s wholesale fabric district, and Jewish designers such as Marc Jacobs and Ralph Lauren are at the helm of billion-dollar brands, it’s apparent that Jews still dominate much of the global market. Now, fashionistas who happen to be Jewish have found yet another comfortable spot in the fashion world: the fashion blog.

Lawrence Schlossman has gained a considerably large following and was thought influential enough to be included in the GQ blog “Oral History of Menswear Blogging” in 2009, after founding the now-renowned menswear blog Sartorially Inclined.


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