Bask in it: why raffia works with everything in the summer | Jess Cartner-Morley


Jess Cartner-Morley on fashion

Woven bags and sandals bring a happy sense of being off the clock, a Saturday morning vibe

I am holding a raffia bag, but to be honest, it could be a straw hat, or a woven picnic basket, or basket-weave sandals. Raffia is fashion’s favourite way to do this look, being softer and more supple than straw and therefore easier to craft into wearables, but it’s the basket vibe that counts.

This summer you can buy a seagrass lampshade in Ikea for £13 or Miu Miu raffia mules with crystal-studded soles for £460. You can style your interiors with jute rugs and bamboo placemats, and match your woven hoop earrings to your raffia belt. Raffia is the new leopard print: a neutral with an edge, the accent piece that makes you look and feel a bit jazzy. Summer vibes, but make it fashion.

A basket is to a proper handbag what a pair of tracksuit bottoms is to suit trousers, which is probably why raffia is the leopard print du jour. Baskets as holiday bags always had a cult summer following (Jane Birkin in the south of France being a perpetually good look, after all) and the trend has been more and more visible, on the streets and on Instagram, in the past few years. But this year, raffia has taken off. This isn’t just a look for fashionistas obsessed with Jacquemus straw hats and Bottega Veneta basket-weave leather any more.

As an interiors trend, raffia brings an inside-outside, doors-open vibe. Raffia bags and shoes bring with them a sense of being off the clock, of Saturday mornings, of time that stretches out lazily instead of dancing to the beat of Google alerts. See someone walking down your road carrying a basket-weave tote, and you think to yourself that she’s probably strolling to the shops to buy bread and paper. There is something local and potter-happy about a basket that fits with the way many of us live right now. I don’t know about you, but spending such a long stint without a commute into the city centre for work has woven my daily life more closely into my local neighbourhood, and made me less inclined to venture much beyond it. I’m very happy with a local mooch, these days, and for that there’s nothing better than a basket and a woven sandal. In a year when holidays are unlikely to be exotic or tropical, raffia feels like a pleasingly achievable level of glamour. Put an out-of-office on your leopard print, and be a basket case for a while.


• Jess wears raffia bag, £14.99, hm.com. Heels, £35.99, mango.com. Dress, Jess’s own. Styling: Melanie Wilkinson. Hair and makeup: Sophie Higginson using Oribe and Charlotte Tilbury. Stylist’s assistant: Peter Bevan.

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