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The Times Shopper

Top-Grade Leather in Belgrade

February 07, 1988|JENNIFER MERIN | Merin is a New York City free-lance writer

You can be sure of finding great buys on leather goods in Belgrade. And there's something for everyone.

An impressive range of leather goods, including clothing that is either elegant or trendy, in addition to well-made shoes, belts, handbags and briefcases, is manufactured in workshops throughout Yugoslavia.

Many of these fine-quality and stylish items are destined for leading retail stores around the world, but a large quantity of merchandise is sold in government-run stores and private shops in Belgrade at reasonable prices.

For example, the leather fashions and accessories created by Mirjana Maric, Yugoslavia's premier designer of such wear, are in demand in top department stores and boutiques in the United States, West Germany, Switzerland and Sweden.

Belts and Handbags

In those countries, Maric's two-piece leather suits for women cost $1,000 and up. In Belgrade, prices for the same suits start at about $400, and prices for other items, including full-length coats (starting at $600), evening gowns (starting at $380), roomy or petite handbags ($45 and up) and belts ($30 and up), are about a third of their cost in other countries.

Maric's fashions are appealing, not just because of their Belgrade prices, but due to their innovative styles. Maric uses only high-quality supple leather that she shapes and drapes in her own way. It is gathered along sleeve seams, tucked on jacket fronts and puckered on pocketbooks. She braids and weaves leather and sometimes lightens its look and feel by punching tiny holes in it. She uses numerous details, including several layers of leather and bows.

Especially attractive are Maric's trendy two-tone suits (with pants or jackets, about $410), combining black with gray, tan, beige or red. The suit trousers are usually a solid color, but the jackets have color-trimmed collars and full-cut sleeves with colored insets shaped as squares, triangles or stripes.

Men's leather suits ($560 and up) are similarly detailed. They usually come in one color, but contrasting trousers, jackets and tunics may be combined to create an individual look.

Maric also uses leather appliques, mostly in the shape of leaves, as accents on knit and crocheted sweaters ($170 and up) of wool or silk. These beautiful garments are designed to be worn with leather trousers or skirts.

Moda Label

Mirjana Maric lives and designs in Belgrade. Her clothes and accessories are made in Veliko Gradiste, a small town in central Serbia. You will find a wide-ranging stock of Mirjana's leather wear for sale in Belgrade under the Moda label. One of the largest outlets is Jugoexport, a fashionable emporium at 10 Knez Mihajlova. An entire section of this department store displays Maric's styles, including coats, suits and accessories.

Jugoexport also has a large selection of other leather clothing at excellent prices. There are Konos' olive drab suits with full skirts ($168) and bolero-like jackets with padded shoulders and hip-hugging waistbands ($174). Konos makes a wonderful purple jacket ($200) with quilted cuffs and variously colored suede vests ($77).

Rudinsky, a company based in Zagreb, makes a beautiful blue leather coat with ribbed leather collar and cuffs. It sells for $526 and is also available in a cool green. Sturdy and cuddly sheepskin coats for men and women ($397) are made by Krzno. And black leather trench coats without labels sell for $272.

Handsome handbags stocked by Jugoexport include Andreja Korbar's two-tone leather pouches with brass fasteners and strap links ($100), and Konzorcum's leather and patent bag shaped like a tulip ($90). Handy for men or women, Toko's dark-gray doctor's bag sells for $90 and will hold necessities for an overnight, including, perhaps, Jugoexport's soft leather men's slippers in black or maroon ($39).

Jugoslovenska Krznarska Industrija makes and distributes lovely leather garments under the Indija label. Its shop at 4 Knez Mihajlova is well-stocked with fashions for men and women. A men's belted jacket with vertical quilting and stand-up collar sells for $276. Lightweight bomber jackets are $50 and up, and suede waist-length jackets are $86. Women's full or straight skirts cost $131. Shirtwaist dresses of multicolored diamond-shaped patches of suede sell for $80.

Slavic Cowboy Boots

Kralj, at 30 Knez Mihajlova, sells stylish handmade leather shoes. A pair of Slavic cowboy boots, in black with red trim, or blue with pink trim, costs about $51. There are brightly colored clogs with bands in contrasting colors for $26, and a variety of conservatively styled oxfords ($45), sandals ($28) and loafers ($35).

At 32 Knez Mihajlova, Ateks Moda sells various labels, including Mirjana Maric's Moda styles. Leather jackets sell for $300 and up; a brown leather jacket that looks styled after the fashion of Renaissance noblemen costs $330. Ateks Moda also sells handbags, including oversized patent clutches ($83) and quilted leather and patent handbags ($57) with distinctive leaf motifs on their flaps.

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