Urban Outfitters goes to Israel!

I recently came across the new Urban Outfitters Early Spring 2011 Catalog and started flipping through.

Didn’t take long for me to realize I recognized some of the locations in the photos.

Turns out the photos for the hip clothing brand’s latest fashion catalog were taken in ISRAEL.

I wouldn’t venture as far as saying Israel is my homeland since I’m not from there, but it is close to my heart.

I traveled to Israel in October on a birthright trip with about 16 fellow Jews from the Los Angeles area for a 10-day experience of a lifetime. And the best part? It was free. Sponsored by Jewish organizations, private donors and the government of Israel, these trips have been going on for about 10 years.

Specifically, Urban took its models, clothing and photographers to sunny Tel Aviv, Israel, which is sister cities with Los Angeles and has been referred to as a mini LA. Tel Aviv was beautiful, relaxing and of course…urban (seriously). On my trip in October, Tel Aviv felt like a vacation in between an educational journey filled with long hikes, early morning expeditions, camel rides and nights spent in a Bedouin desert tent.

Below is the shot from the Urban catalog featuring an interesting red sculpture. This is right across the street from the Grand Beach Hotel where I stayed. My picture from there follows.

Tel Aviv, Israel. Courtesy of Urban Outfitters Early Spring Catalog 2011.

Sculpture by the beach in Tel Aviv, Israel. Photo by Daniel Ucko.

Interesting to note, Urban Outfitters’ relationship with Israel isn’t exactly untarnished.

In 2008, they sold keffiyehs, those Middle Eastern scarves that conjure the image of Palestinian leader Yaser Arrafat, according to fashion blog The Gloss. The scarves were a bestseller – in fact I have one – until Jewish blogs accused Urban of an anti-Israeli political agenda. The apparel company eventually gave in and stopped selling them, though they still offer similar items.

In addition the keffiyeh fiasco, Urban has no stores in Israel. That makes the exotic locale of Tel Aviv an interesting choice, as the company has been criticized for its lack of presence. H&M opened in Tel Aviv in 2010 and several pro-Palestinian groups attempted to boycott the chain. The Gloss says Israel does ship to Israel, as well as Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Kuwait.

So why Tel Aviv? It’s simple, according to Urban’s facebook page“We were craving some warm weather, so we headed to sunny Tel Aviv with photographer Marlene Marino to shoot our early spring catalog.”

Find photos from the shoot HERE. Check out my photos from 10 days in Israel HERE.

A sampling of my shots below, taken on a Canon XS DSLR:

The rest of my Israel photos HERE, Urban Outfitters’ Tel Aviv shoot HERE.

Shiomo Laha Promenade in Tel Aviv. Photo by Daniel Ucko.

The Grand Beach Hotel in Tel Aviv. Photo by Daniel Ucko.

Downtown Tel Aviv from rooftop. Photo by Daniel Ucko

Banksy graffiti art in downtown Tel Aviv. Photo by Daniel Ucko

A taste of Israeli life in downtown Tel Aviv. Photo by Daniel Ucko.

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