Friday, November 13, 2009

Spotlight on: BABEL FAIR

Two Sundays ago I happened to be up ungodly early and ran to do a few beauty errands on the Bowery. On my way home, I strolled down Elizabeth, a street I take nearly every single day, and saw something new and exciting: a new store! The cute windows drew me in, and the amazing merchandise kept me there.

The owner and curator (because it really is incredibly well-edited), Erica, sat down with WTSTA to chat about Babel Fair and its worldly goods.

How did you come up with the idea for Babel Fair? Explain the shop's concept.

I travel a lot and love to see what fashion trends have emerged in other cultures so I wanted a store that offered this worldly feeling and had unique global pieces. The store has only international product and they represent trends from around the world. Everything has a luggage tag with the country of origin stamped on it.

Some of the products are from big international designers and some are from small artisan groups but they all represent fantastic fashion those cultures have to offer.

A fully beaded top from Brazil. Must. Have. Drool.

Where's the farthest/best place you've gotten product from?

Sometimes I find really cool things in unexpected places like a street market in Hong Kong and they bring me to a small distribution warehouse where we don't understand each other and have to gesture.

(amazing bags from Ghana - one of a kind prints for $69!)

Any favorite pieces?

I love the Bolivian fur vests we have. They are from a small non-fashion related "company" so the prices are extremely inexpensive for real fur and they look amazing.

(It's $259. I had to show amazing restraint.)

Who's your customer?

I came in thinking that it would be the typical fashionista type but I have sold to people age 13 to age 65+ - also men as well as women. I think the store's strong point is is that there is a curiosity aspect to it. People like to see binary watches from Tokyo and cowhide bags from South America . So in that way we have had a wide range.

How cute are these iPhone backs?

What trends do you think are important for fall and/or spring?

Trends are hard to identify for me becauseI'm always chasing different ones in other international cities and trying to bring them here before they are big in the U.S. So its always changing - for instance in Argentina there is a big trend of wearing several layers of leather strands around your neck and in Japan everything is very oversized and drapey even though the girls are generally tiny. I guess the important trend here is trying to be unique - getting something nobody else has- that's what everyone wants.

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