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A new crop of raffia accessories takes root for spring.


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VPL raffia open-toe boots, A.P.C. raffia basket bag

It's only natural—like that first hit of Coppertone, nothing confirms summer is close at hand like a giant raffia tote or floppy hat. Originally cultivated in Madagascar, raffia has over the centuries taken root in other parts of the world (Africa and South America, for example), and due to its longwearing resilience and versatility, it's become an easy-access style staple of the hot, sunny seasons.

Traditionally raffia has been a cost-friendly medium for making straight-up mats, baskets, and hats, but this year, we're seeing the raffia palm branching out in a whole new way. Like a tropical tofu, it's been cooked up in a variety of unexpected creations. Victoria Bartlett of VPL turned out a tough, summertime boot with a wide shaft and open-toe design ($495), while Tashkent took a sweeter cue with the Flo, candy-colored elastic-backed skimmer flats ($298). A.P.C fashioned the satchel of the moment in their raffia basket bag ($69). Rachel Comey topped her spring/summer runway looks with oversized raffia visors, and vegan crusader Stella McCartney may have propelled raffia to its swankiest interpretation yet: a wide-strapped wedge-heeled sandal ($575).


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Stella McCartney raffia open-toe sandals, Tashkent by Cheyenne treated raffia ballet flats


That's a long way from its original incarnation as a tenacious stand-in for rope or string. But despite its dramatic growth spurt, raffia is still about functionality—light, breathable, and strong, it could just be the ultimate savior of summer.

Raffia Boots, $495, by VPL, go to www.vplnyc.com; "The Flo" Treated Raffia Ballet Flats, $298, by Tashkent by Cheyenne, available at The Grocery, 650-347-0452; Raffia basket bag, $69, by A.P.C., go to www.apc.fr; Natural Raffia Open Toe Heels, $575, by Stella McCartney, available at Satine.

—Christene Barberich & Piera Gelardi

A new crop of raffia accessories takes root for spring.