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Nolita has been hit particularly hard by the recession, but we're not too worried about new store Babel Fair, at 260 Elizabeth Street between Houston and Prince. The shop, which opened a few weeks ago, carries clothing from international designers, most of it under $200 and impossible to find anywhere else in New York. Their secret weapon, though, is a table full of inexpensive little novelties like bacon-shaped cell-phone charms from China and rope necklaces from Brazil. Bottles of Smiley, a French fragrance that claims to replicate the chemical cocktail that causes happiness, are particularly big sellers at $49 to $59 (depending on size), and the Chinese eyelash curlers were so popular that they've already sold out.
Owner Erica Kiang sources the shop through a team of trend forecasters around the world—a colleague in China, for example, recommended pebbly, shiny black duffel bags by a street artist who's huge in Shanghai. At the moment, most of the clothing is from Asia and Brazil, though she's got some French, Italian and Danish designers sprinkled into the mix. Standouts include fur vests and cowhide bags by a Bolivian company that considers both items utilities, rather than trend pieces, making them surprisingly affordable. Kiang says the reception so far has been great, though she wasn't expecting so many of Nolita's shoppers to be European tourists. "They come in asking for Ralph Lauren," she told us.
· Storecasting: Babel Fair Brings the World to Nolita [Racked]
· Babel Fair [Official Site]