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Dark, sharp-edged handbags to rock fashion world

BERLIN -- Black will play a big role in handbags later this year, judging by products that flooded a major recent leather fair.

Heavy black combined with cool grey, with occasional orange, red or bright blue contrasts, will be the trend-setting look.

“It's tradition combined with the future,” is how fashion adviser Martin Wuttke describes the look, which is aimed at both men and women. Wuttke insists, “Handbags for men are becoming fashionable.”

Over 280 exhibitors showed designs at the ILM International Leather Goods Fair in Offenbach in western Germany, previewing what will show up in European stores in the late autumn and winter months.

Many of the collections on display included items aimed at the fashion-conscious guy.

Designers have aimed to achieve a more relaxed look to encourage men to take up bags as a fashion accessory. Instead of choosing a formal briefcase, a businessman can pick up a sporty looking shoulder bag instead.

Little backpacks remain as popular as ever, especially the sort you can also carry at the end of your arm, but this year the makers will be giving them a fresh accent. Upcoming designs are more rectangular, with sharper contours and less rounder edges.

Women have a lot more to choose from than men, with plenty of combinations of styles and materials.

Nubuck leather has been given a layer of varnish or plastic.

Big prints are another feature found in many women's handbag collections. Rivets are as common as fringes, with most women's bags trending to geometrical shapes. Wide bottoms are another feature common to most designs, along with conspicuous zips.

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