If you think the classic basket-shaped raffia bags only work for the beach vacation, you're mistaken. Handwoven straw bags have got a chic update this summer. From fanny packs to slouchy beach totes, there’s a raffia bag style to suit every taste and occasion.
And why not? Unlike jacquard and leather bags, raffia bags are naturally waterproof.
From luxury brands like Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Gucci to high street labels like Zara and H&M, and homegrown brands like Outhouse and Oceana Clutches, designers are now offering their versions of raffia accessories with a playful twist.
Kaabia Grewal, founder of Outhouse Jewellery, says brands have gone beyond doing classic beach totes to interesting shapes and forms, "from a top handle to a chic cross-body style, while embracing the material's rustic charm. I also feel the textile raffia has always been in trend, but it’s gained popularity in the past few seasons due to its natural and sustainable nature. With the growing focus on sustainability and conscious consumerism, raffia bags have become a popular choice for those seeking more environmentally friendly options."
Styling raffia bags can be exciting and creative as well, as they seamlessly complement a diverse array of outfits and occasions.
Whether you're aiming for a chic beach look or a city-chic ensemble, raffia bags provide a versatile canvas for personal expression.
“To accentuate the style of any raffia bag, consider incorporating layered jewellery, such as delicate necklaces and bracelets. This approach not only enhances the bag's overall impact, but also introduces an element of visual interest that complements the woven texture of the raffia,” says Grewal. “The charm of raffia bags lies in their adaptability and ability to harmonise with various fashion choices.”
According to Puneet Mangla, co-founder of Perona, raffia bags have become trendy due to two reasons. “The first being the design aesthetics. The aesthetics of raffia bags blend seamlessly with beachwear and hot summer fashion,” he says. "The second actor is its sustainability quotient. The raffia fibre is a natural fibre obtained by peeling of raffia palm leaves; carrying similar properties to materials like jute, bamboo and hemp fibres. The raffia fibre is soft, pliable, strong, durable, easy to dye and biodegradable, making it an excellent material for weaving baskets, hats, mats, and rugs."
The natural texture of the bag goes very well with the bohemian aesthetic, says Rima Kapadia, co-founder of Oceana Clutches. She suggests that raffia pieces can be styled with a casual summer outfit like a flowy dress and flats for a laid-back and breezy look. "A fringed or embellished raffia bag with a maxi skirt and ankle boots would be the perfect attire. To get a cohesive and polished appearance, a neutral-toned raffia bag can be paired with an outfit in a matching colour palette, making it a strikingly beautiful monochromatic ensemble," she suggests.
Manish Mishra is a Delhi-based journalist and content creator.