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Small World : Some of the season's most appealing styles for children reflect a new international awareness.

FASHION

January 21, 1990|Barbara Foley

SUDDENLY YOUR child is asking questions about the world. Where's Bali? India? Is this what they wear in Guatemala?

No, you're not reading National Geographic. You're shopping.

Kids' fashion these days is taking a decidedly relevant, worldly turn, delving into international cultures and coming up with colorful, fun, practical clothes that can teach more than fashion sense. A block print from Indonesia may prompt a painting hobby, a batik bird print from Bali could inspire a nature lesson, and beaded shoes from a foreign land may become an exercise in fantasy. "In my travels around the world, I suddenly thought how great it would be for American kids to be able to wear clothes from exotic places," says Sara Schifrin, owner of Sara for Kids on Montana Avenue in Santa Monica. "Children really take to the handmade quality of the clothes, the colors, the comfortable fabrics and the loose, easy fit."

Parents appreciate the prices--generally in the $10-to-$30 range for vests, pants, skirts and shirts, less for T-shirts. Pieces are often worn in layers, native style, and they can be topped with the bright colors and textures of international accessories. School-smart fanny packs and backpacks made of Guatemalan fabric and leather-backed woven belts for all-American jeans are a few of the blendings that can turn the thoughts of children from local to global.

Models: Melissa Estete and Schyler Shulkin / Colleen Cler Agency, Toby Howard / East West-Prima; grooming: Jasmine Manders / Celestine-Cloutier

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