NEW YORK — As accessories and apparel designers begin to think about fall 2003, there are a number of new leather options on tap to get their creative energies flowing.

The Genuine Italian Vegetable-Tanned Leather Consortium recently held its trend preview, Natural Sensations, to showcase leather styles for fall 2003. The many styles available were broken down into three primary themes labeled Forceful Elements, Refined Styling and Fun Time.

The first trend category is characterized by earthy and warm hues, such as burnt red, and has features such as lumpy and uneven surfaces, hammered looks and leather with tassels and fringes.

"The leather appears as if it has been submitted to a test to show its strength and vigor," said Angelo Ushlengi, a fashion consultant who presented the report.

The second category is comprised of gray and blue tones. The leathers have patterns inspired by men’s wear looks, including houndstooth and herringbone.

The third category includes brighter colors, such as lime green and yellow, and is characterized by leather with surfaces that look puffy and looks that have metallic influences.

The Consortium, which was founded in 1994, includes about 30 firms from Italy’s Tuscany region. Tanneries that belong to the Consortium now use a trademark that identifies their products as "Genuine Italian-Tanned Leather."

Also at the presentation, Roberto Luongo, the Italian Trade Commissioner in New York, gave some information about sales of Italian leather imports in the U.S., which amounted to about $280 million in 2001, or about 30 percent of American imports. This figure refers to leather hides, not finished product.

For the first four months of 2002, imports were $78 million, or 32 percent of market share, Luongo noted.

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