'Sexy and Cool' Jewish-Themed Fashion Makes Waves in Staid Poland

Making Dramatic Statement With Clothing in Warsaw

riskmadeinwarsaw.com

By Ofer Aderet

Published February 04, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Multi Page

(Haaretz) — When 30-year-old Antonina Samecka returned to Poland after her first visit to Israel on Birthright, she wore a Magen David (Star of David) necklace. Her grandmother, a Holocaust survivor, was shocked to see her, and asked that she take off the necklace from the Holy Land. Her grandmother believed it was still dangerous to identify oneself as a Jew in Poland.

But Samecka, a young Pole of Jewish descent decided to keep adorning herself in “Jewish” fashion items. Over the decade that has passed since then, she says that her goal has been “to remove the stigmas, so that we can wear our Judaism when, and where we want to.”

A fashion line she created in 2012, Risk Oy markets “sexy and cool” Jewish fashion, she says. The line was born in Krakow, but has since moved to Warsaw, a city still considered by many to be the antithesis of cool, fashionable or trendy.

With effective Internet marking, Samecka has found exactly the community of customers she was looking for. Chief Rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich also caught wind of the brand. Samecka describes her target audience as “people who don’t exactly identify with the Jewish religion, but still want to be connected to their roots.”

The clothing, which comes in various shades of gray, is adorned with slogans meant to shock Polish mothers, wink at Jewish friends, and make fun of both of them. The clothes’ self-deprecating humor includes words like “chutzpah,” “shalom,” and “Israel,” alongside symbols like menorahs, Magen Davids, hamsas.

One shirt reads: “Thanks to my mum,” and the reason is clear: “It’s common that whenever you tell someone you’re Jewish, they ask whether it’s through your mum or your dad. The above design pokes fun at this routine, and intends to remove all doubt,” reads the website for the clothing line. This particular shirt is adorned with Magen Davids and snowflakes. “As our Yiddishe mamas are always concerned about us getting cold,” reads the description.

Another shirt reads, “I love J Forever.” Use of the letter “J” as shorthand for Jewish isn’t meant to recall the Nazis’ persecution of the Jews, but rather references the popular Jewish dating side, JDate. “In reality we all date who we want, but our parents all say the same thing: ‘Find yourself a good Jewish husband/wife!’ This is why we’ve incorporated a menorah into the head of our Cupid’s arrow.”

One exception is the shirt that reads, “Oy oy, my boy is goy.” “Sometimes we joke that Jewish girls prefer goys,” reads the clothing line’s website. The shirt is depicted just above a tie that contains the words, “Got more chutzpah than charm.”

“The word chutzpah used to have a negative connotation, but today it’s completely changed,” explain the designers. Today the Jewish chutzpah is described as self-confidence, straightforwardness and honesty. The designers say, “Chutzpah symbolizes going after your goals, in order to face the toughest challenges. Because of its chutzpah, Israel became the ‘Start-up nation.’”

The brand Risk Oy is an offshoot of the larger “Risk Made in Warsaw brand,” which Samecka also founded. Her clothes are sold over the Internet and in stores throughout the world, including in Germany, Italy, France, the United States and even Saudi Arabia.

Samecka has yet to penetrate the Israeli market, though. “The most important message is that being Jewish has become sexy. We’re rebranding the Jewish identity, and focusing on the good, and positive things we have,” says Samecka.

For more stories, go to Haaretz.com or to subscribe to Haaretz, click here and use the following promotional code for Forward readers: FWD13.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.