How two Chasidic Jews created a trendy new bikini brand

Chasidic Jews and bikinis don’t normally end up in the same sentence together. The modesty rules that govern the Chasidic lifestyle typically forbid men from being around or even looking at scantily clad women.

So how did two Chasidic men start their own bikini company?

The story of Barry Glick and Saul Samet — the founders of the Beach Gal swimsuit company, as chronicled in Racked — is revealing in more ways than one.

About four years ago, Glick, a 30-year-old father of five who lives in the heavily Orthodox neighborhood of Borough Park, Brooklyn, was working at a store selling custom bekishes, or the long black coats worn by Chasidic men on holy days. He came up with Beach Gal’s signature idea — a bikini with a detachable fringe or string of sea shell beads — during his long commutes to the bekish store in New Jersey. He was fascinated by billboards for Pandora jewelry, which allows customers to choose their own charms.

“I don’t know how in the world I came to it but one day I thought, ‘maybe there could be a bikini that would work with such a concept,’” he told Racked.

Glick took his idea and teamed up with Samet, a Borough Park neighbor who provided the company’s initial investment. Samet had a connection to Cynthia Riccardi, the designer behind the popular Cyn & Luca swimsuit brand, who helped the duo finalize their designs and guided them to high quality fabric producers in South America.

Since then, according to Racked, Beach Gal has garnered positive reviews on Amazon and sold most of the 2,500 pieces from their initial production run. Their suits, which sell for around $150, feature detachable beads, sequins and ruffles. None falls under the category of modest clothing or swimwear (for proof, check out their look book).

So while the Chasidic pair is confident in their product, they are, unsurprisingly, nervous about how it might be perceived in the Orthodox community. They refused to have their pictures taken for the Racked article and said they aren’t “shouting it in the halls.” Samet said he hasn’t told his in-laws about the new company (but he noted that his wife is fully supportive of the project).

The other irony here, as Racked points out, is that Chasidic men aren’t exactly fashion mavens — they tend to exclusively stick to wearing black suits and white shirts.

However, for Glick at least, the inspiration could have been familial. His mother works at a clothing shop featuring modest attire and his grandmother has owned a fabric store for about 30 years. He says two of his three sisters are “quite fashionable.”

La Brea ‘Eastbound & Down’ billboard removed after Orthodox pressure

For the second time in two months, the Orthodox Jewish community in Los Angeles has successfully pressured a major billboard company to take down what some considered offensive advertising.

The latest, a billboard located at the corner of Beverly Boulevard and Detroit Street in the Hancock Park neighborhood, was a promotion for the fourth season of the television series “Eastbound & Down,” which airs on HBO. On the billboard was the star of the show, actor Danny McBride, throwing hundred dollar bills in the air with two women behind him dressed in bikinis. To the right read, “You don’t retire from being awesome.”

Hillygram, a listserv read mostly by the Orthodox community on Sept. 10 posted in its news section information as to how community members should write in protest to CBS Outdoor, which owns the billboard.

“We need the community’s help in ensuring that the offensive billboard on the corner of Beverly and Detroit is removed as quickly as possible,” the Hillygram email said. “In the past, the way we succeeded in pressuring CBS to remove the billboard was through swamping them with emails.”

“By sending them hundreds of emails, we were able to show that we were a voice to be reckoned with,” the email continued.

Hillygram’s Sept. 12 email indicated that the billboard was taken down.

In July, the Sephardic Orthodox outreach group Bait Aaron convinced Van Wagner Communications to remove a suggestive billboard posted near the Pico-Robertson neighborhood. It advertised XO energy drink and showed a mostly naked woman.

Tim Fox, a representative for CBS Outdoor, was the contact person for community members who wanted the “Eastbound & Down” billboard taken down. He could not immediately be reached for comment, but an editor of Hillygram, Ben Savit, expressed his gratitude to Fox for working with the community.

“He explained it to us that he had no legal obligation to take it down,” Savit said. “He’s such a nice guy, and he didn’t have to take it down, and he did.”

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