There are few handbags that signal the arrival of warmer weather like the straw tote does. Whether you use a straw tote every week to make your visit to the farmer's market or once in a while for a trip to the beach, there is just something very light-hearted and appealing about a classic straw tote that makes it one of the most versatile and universally loved accessories out there.
Specifically, straw totes are likely to be made from such flexible fibers as raffia, lupis, pandan, or sea grass. Raffia is a particular favorite, largely because it is soft, flexible, durable, and easy to dye. Raffia comes from the leaves of the palm tree Raffia ruffia, which is a very specific palm tree known for having the largest leaves of any palm tree. Originally, the Raffia ruffia only grew on the island of Madagascar, although nowadays they are cultivated and grown in order to provide the valuable fiber to such professions as milliners, crafters, and florists.
Although there are as many versions of straw totes as there seem to be people in the universe, some of the most popular styles feature a looser weave, which enables the tote to have more flexibility, and produces a tote that is easily packed into a suitcase or folded-up for storage. There are other types of raffia bags that are woven using a loom. Generally, loom-woven raffia bags have more stiffness to them, and are used in the making of larger totes and baskets that are designed to take more weight.