The warmer weather is lifting our spirits and although a 2020 summer will probably look a lot different to previous years since so many of us are yet to feel confident enough to venture outside our own countries thanks to COVID-19, we are still looking forward to spending some time in the sun– responsibly with SPF of course. Besides eco-friendly reef-safe sunscreen, your summer essentials should also include a stylish straw bag to store amongst other things, your zero waste reusables.
And if you’re in the market for one and can’t find a vintage or second-hand on Etsy, eBay, Depop or thredUP, we’ve rounded up 10 places to shop for ethical straw bags perfect for beach days or poolside this summer.
1. DHARMA DOOR
Dharma Door are the go-to Australian brand for fair-trade straw, jute and hemp bags, natural homewares and accessories. Whether you’re buying a straw tote for yourself or perhaps as a gift, think elevated classic straw shoppers and string bags that will effortlessly transition into any wardrobe. This brand have been commissioning female artisans in remote, rural communities for the past 16 years all with the intention to genuinely empower people out of the cycle of poverty. Dharma Door think collaboratively, as a brand they listen to what their customers enjoy to develop new design concepts; while their not-for-profit NGO partners support the artisans that make them using traditional weaving and craft skills.
The Little Market is an online platform that stocks ethically sourced artisan-made products. A non-profit marketplace that celebrates cultural techniques and traditions, including those required for hand-woven straw bags like this market basket we love that supports Bolga Basket Weavers in Ghana and made from locally-sourced natural plant fibres.
3. ARMS OF EVE
Arms Of Eve encompasses the charm of the ocean in their designs while honouring the techniques of traditionals womens artisanal handwork and weaving techniques. Their Caribbean woven bag made from water hyacinth fibres that grows abundantly, is the perfect size and classic style to be used as a shopper, an everyday tote or a beach bag.
4. MELIE BIANCO
Minimal yet updated, these are the natural straw bags you’ll receive compliments on for their quality and sophisticated style. Handwoven by skilled artisans with eco-friendly straw, Melie Bianco make their bags under a profit sharing model and were even named PETA UK’s Best Animal Friendly Accessories brand.
Straw bags come in a neutral colour palette which fits perfectly into summer wardrobes with second guessing. The brands below are pushing the stereotype for straw bags and we are obsessed! If you’re looking for something a little more statement bag and a little less market bag, we can’t recommend them enough…
5. A A K S
Each bag embodies a story through its colours and shape. A A K S is brand that celebrates the women of Ghana, their skills in traditional weaving techniques and all while providing sustainable livelihoods. The bags have a strong sense of identity and quality that you can see in their unique styles. We are obsessed with the Nowa Bowl pom pom bags made from raffia sourced from the leaves on the Palmyra palm, a tree native to Madagascar.
Nannacay, meaning brotherhood of women, is not just a brand but a social fashion project with a mission to foster creative potential. Handmade by a community of artisans in Peru using natural straw such as reed straw and Peruvian toquilla straw, Nannacay bags reflect the country’s vibrance. We love the pastel pops of colour and boxy shapes of the Beatrice and Roge bags, which are a fun twist on a straw bag.
If you’re after something a little more luxe and have the money to invest, some of our favourite designer labels making straw bags are…
Sans Arcidet Paris is centred around natural materials, reworked basics and French style. Each bag is handmade with raffia from Madagascar and coloured with 90% vegetable dye in classic relaxed shapes and earthy tones. The brand is constantly challenging their environmental impact and social responsibility so that each collection is an improvement on the last.
Helen Kaminski’s bags are made in a dedicated workshop in Sri Lanka, one that employs over 2000 craftspeople who skilfully hand make the raffia braid and crochet pieces. The brand has one of the largest collections of raffia bag styles and multiple colorways so you’re sure to find something to suit your tastes, preferences and the occasion.
We’re obsessed with Sarah J Curtis’ straw hats and her collection of straw bags are just as fabulous. The oversized totes, particularly, are fast becoming as iconic as her oversized hats. Working with Ecuadorian artisans using a traditional, ancestral weaving technique recognized by UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) as an Intangible Cultural Heritage Of Humanity, this brand has found the perfect balance of aesthetics and ethics.
10. ST. AGNI
Not exactly straw (though looks like a straw weave, which is why we’re including) but for those that don’t have a quarm on leather, St. Agni weave vegetable dyed leather to make their accessories. The brand works towards a slow fashion model, employing artisans in Indonesia and India to create their bags. They are continuously monitoring their social and environmental impact and transparency – you can even find their manufacturers details on their website.
Disclosure: Details are correct at time of publishing. Opinions are that of the writer’s. This curated list does not fully take into account all the ethical considerations that are unique to each individual. Before making a purchase, we encourage you to do your own research paying particular attention to the supply chain and your own particular set of ethics. You can also check out online tools and apps that provide product reviews and brand ratings here. Click here to read more about our policies. Cover image via Dharma Door.