There's "funky", and then there's "frum."
And those two words do not necessarily go hand in hand. In fact,
"frum" - or religious - is all-too-often aligned with
"frumpy," a word that has come to describe the style-less
look that can result from modest dress.
Rachel Lubchansky is out to change all that.
Lubchansky, a local St. Louisan who studied at the Fashion Institute
of Technology in New York City, came up with the idea of FunkyFrum.com
- which launches on Aug. 15 - after being approached often by
people wanting to know where she got her clothes.
"As a style-sensitive, modest, modern Orthodox woman living
in a city like St. Louis, it's hard to find modest apparel,"
Lubchansky said. "They saw new and unique fashionable things,
which you don't often find in modest apparel in St. Louis."
Several people even approached her, knowing her background
in fashion, about setting up a fashion business for Orthodox
women in St. Louis.
After much deliberation and a lot of research,
Lubchansky put together a business plan for "an online
retailer catering to fashion-savvy women committed to a modest
And while Funky Frum started as a site geared towards Orthodox
women, it is attracting attention from people of all walks of
"It is much more far-reaching than I originally envisioned," Lubchansky said. "We have experienced a tremendous response from women of all Jewish affiliations and across the boudaries of religion."
Laurie Landay, who attended the launch event, describes herself as "far from Orthodox," but said
"Rachel's stuff is extremely fashionable, interesting and
unique. The skirts happen to be longer, but that's about it,
so it's not like you would shop with her and all of a sudden
run around appearing as if you are frum."
Daniel Stankey is the photographer for the site. He is also
a father of two teenage daughters. Stankey said: "As a
father of two young teenage daughters you wonder what some of
these people are thinking when they're putting clothes on the
shelves. I'm Christian, but I can't tell you how many times
we look at our daughters and say, 'You can't wear that to church.'
I was looking at the clothes (at Funky Frum) and I was just amazed at how stylish
they were and the fact that they were what I would deem as much
Michelle Soudry lives in Boca Raton, Fla., and went to FIT with
Lubchansky. Soudry now works as a marketing guru for fashion
and beauty accounts as owner and president of the Gab Group.
She said: "I have non-Jewish clients who have certain religious
functions and have said that they are looking for a modest evening
dress or a modest outfit and asked if I know of anyplace. I
refer them to Rachel because I really do not know of any other
retailer that caters themselves to the stylish modest market."
Soudry noted that she thought one important factor rested in
the fact that "Rachel wasn't always living a modest lifestyle,
and went from being non-religious to being very religious and
found all the modest clothing offered to be very un-stylish,
bland and old. She's a young girl who appreciates style and
fashion, and so she thought of a way whereby she could offer
fashionable clothes in accordance with the laws of modesty for
women out there who don't want to sacrifice style for modesty."
Avital and Nechama Dina Simon, who attend Bais Yaakov High
School in St. Louis, received a sneak peak at
the collection prior to the Web site's launch. They said that everyone their age is already talking
about the site.
“My friend called me from Los Angeles
and she had heard about it," Avital said. The rage, according
to the girls, lies in the fact that the site truly is catering
to a very real demand.
"My whole family was talking about how we always wanted
something like this," Nechama Dina said. "My dad wanted
to quit his job and become a designer of cool, frum, tzniut / modest clothing, because you can't find anything like that.
You go into a mall and try to find clothes for hours."
They even said their friends sometimes go out of town to get
a nice suit or outfit, and their neighbors get shipments from
Cleveland or New York of a box of modest clothing, "because they
can't find anything here."
According to the Simons, it is not just a matter of finding
modest clothing that is "appropriate", but rather finding
clothing that is appropriate, of good quality and stylish.
"You can find long skirts and long sleeved shirts, but they're
all junky, or not cool." Avital said. "Rachel's stuff
is not trashy, it's so cool and everything is so modern."
The Jewish Dayton Observer, Ohio