Israel's Place in the Sun

Gottex swimsuits are covering American beaches

When SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's annual swimsuit issue hit the newsstands in February, 19.5 million readers were captivated by the come-hither pose of Czech-born Model Paulina Porizkova, whose sea-green bikini accentuated all the right curves. Armin and Leah Gottlieb, however, had eyes only for her $50 lace-andLycra swimsuit, which was manufactured by their Israeli company, Gottex, a privately held family firm (1984 sales: $40 million) that is the leading exporter of fashion swimwear to the U.S.

With headquarters in a five-story concrete-and-glass building in the industrial sector of Tel Aviv, Gottex controls some 65% of the Israeli swimwear market. Worldwide, it sells more...

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