Basket Bags Spell Summer Elegance

Basket bags are charming and seductive in their simplicity. Season after season, decade after decade, women are drawn to this romantic summer fashion accessory.  Basket bags are like nautical stripes: we think of them when we think of the beach and the long hot days of summer. At the same time, these whimsical bags are pretty universal in use, communicating a relaxed, vacation state of mind in both country and urban settings.

Basket bags are typically made of a variety of plant materials and fibers like raffia, jute, sisal, wicker, and others. This summer, like last, is very much a basket bag summer: in sizes big and small, basket bags are everywhere. Most major women’s fashion brands, from Balenciaga to Zara and Mango, have their own versions. That said, I like to look at smaller, independent brands, because that is where most unique and creative pieces are to be found.

basket bags
Small turquoise-dyed raffia hobo bag by Abbacino of Petra, Mallorca. Currently on sale at 32,50 Euros. Also available in pink. Shipping within the European Union.

It is quite natural that Mediterranean brands excel in basket bag design. They have the requisite weather, materials within an arm’s reach, and lots and lots of practice. Spanish shoes and accessories brands, for example, often use raffia, jute, and esparto grass to a great artistic effect. For them it is not a trend, but a part of their artisan tradition. The Abbacino brand from Mallorca is a new discovery. The company makes a wide range of bags and other accessories, of both non-leather and leather materials, at very affordable prices. All accessories come in great colors: from bright turquoise and pink hues to lavenders and earthy tans.

basket bags
Small two-tone raffia handbag by Abbacino of Mallorca. Polyskin detailing. Currently on sale at 27,50 Euros on the brand’s website.

I love these Abbacino basket bags, but the only snag is that they don’t ship to North America. Closer to our shores, I came across California-based Clare V label. Clare Vivier, the creator of the brand’s d, is a French expat and former TV journalist. By the looks of it, she is very adept at translating old-world retro style into contemporary urban elegance.

basket bags
Alice“circular sisal weave bag with white vegetable leather detailing by Clare Vivier. 32″ adjustable shoulder drop, 5″ handle drop. $225 on the brand’s website.

The “Alice” is an absolutely lovely bag, in great French vintage style. It is made of sisal, a very durable fiber derived from the agave cactus plant. The result is a tight weave in a wonderful creamy color that is natural to sisal.

I owe my discovery of the Clare V brand to another TV journalist, Laura Behnke, a sports anchor at WABC-TV in New York. I really like Laura’s style – very fresh and elegant. Judging by her Instagram, Laura has an enviable collection of shoes and accessories. I would love to write about it one day.  Here she is with her “Alice” basket bag by Clare V:

basket bags
Courtesy of @laurabbehnke, IG.
basket bags
Alice” circular sisal weave basket bag by Clare V of LA. Courtesy of @laurabbehnke, IG.

Clare V.’s basket bags definitely have that carefree beach vibe, but they are perfect urban elegant style bags.

basket bags
Kenya” hand-woven sisal tote by Clare V. Vegetable leather detailing. Dimensions: 10″ Diameter x 9.5″ H. $179 on the brand’s website.

This small hand-woven tote would fit comfortably under your arm. It can also be worn on a chic medium length vegetable leather strap. I love how the double handles are attached to the bag by means of a “stitched” leather panel – an attractive and well-considered detail. Creativity and meticulous approach being signs of quality, Clare  V‘s artisan basket bags look like they’re worth their medium-high price tag.

I hope you enjoyed this small selection of basket bags by Abbacino and Clare V.

Wishing you a great month of August,















About Me

Ann Mailsi is a writer and social media buff based in the Greater Toronto Area, Ontario, Canada. Her interests include fashion, technology, and nature adventures.

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