Black rubber is the latest idea to bounce onto the quirky fashion scene.

Possibly it started when Carla Fendi in Rome picked up her battered suitcase after an overseas flight--she knew she had to come up with something tougher than leather and canvas. Whether or not the Fendi black rubber bags and luggage were the first of the rubber accessories, the Fendi endorsement stimulated the current rage for bags and belts and shoes and now even jewelry . . . in black rubber.

The appeal is not only durability but also a high-tech look, particularly when the rubber is deeply ridged or edged in silver-toned metal. The rubber that's used in these items now comes in several weights, and even in colors other than black. And the clincher: The price is usually far less than leather and many plastics. CAPTION: Illustrations 1 through 4, Black rubber bracelets from Commander Salamander in triangle shape ($8) or plain ridged ($4); ridged rubber triangle earrings ($6) and rubber barrettes ($3.50) from Woodies. The black rubber pump (lined in leather) by Andrew Geller at Woodward & Lothrop ($84) and the sandal in bright yellow rubber from Baker's Shoes ($14.99). The wide, woven, heavy rubber belt with metal snaps from Neiman-Marcus ($36) and the classic belt for men updated in rubber with khaki or red leather tips from Silhouette, 1517 Wisconsin Ave. NW. ($30) Clutch in black-and-white ridged rubber from Smull's, 1505 Connecticut Ave. NW. ($42); pebble-textured soft rubber zip-top tote by JAF at Hecht's ($25). Illustrations by Martha Vaughn for The Washington Post