A Trip to the Tropics: Raffia & Rope

This 2020 fashion trend is a return to natural materials and escapist pieces

Though we increasingly live in cities and have to consider the day to day practicalities of urban life when choosing clothing, shoes, and accessories, a 2020 fashion trend and predominant aesthetic for Spring-Summer is natural and tropical-inspired style. Specifically, bags and shoes constructed of woven raffia, rope, bamboo, and other plant-derived materials that evoke a certain summertime slowness that we desperately need.

While modern materials like nylon, polyamide, and coated canvas are surely more durable, they lack the organic feel of natural materials made from palm trees. And if anything is consistent in fashion, it’s a regular swing of the pendulum from one extreme to the other, which may be why so many designers are focusing on collections dedicated to the “resort” aesthetic and it’s a clear 2020 fashion trend.

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miu miu raffia bucket bag ss20 spring summer 2020 fashion trend rope bamboo jacquemus prada

Jacquemus may be the most prominent, with an entire line of womenswear and menswear that feels more at home at the pool than in the office. This season, we’re also loving tropical-vibe handbags made of woven raffia and rope from the likes of Prada, Miu Miu, Stella McCartney, and Jil Sander.

miu miu raffia bucket bag ss20 spring summer 2020 fashion trend rope bamboo jacquemus prada

For summer escapist footwear, the iconic rope-sole espadrille, which has been a fixture in Southern France and all over Spain since the 14th century, is the natural choice for effortless tropical elegance. Castañer and Manebí are firmly rooted in this aesthetic, producing the style exclusively, though the former has a much longer heritage as a consistent brand of alpargatas, as they’re known in Spain.

spring summer 2020 ss20 espadrille shoes footwear rope raffia jute castaner manebi prada valentino paloma barcelo kenzo

Our favorite espadrilles for 2020 come from Prada, Valentino Garavani, Paloma Barceló, and Kenzo in a variety of formats: flat open-toe slides, slip-on flats, wedge sandals, and high-heel sandals, all set on durable and comfortable jute rope and rubber soles.

During summer travel, the obvious pairing with a raffia and rope handbag and a pair of espadrilles is a flowy and gently-draped dress in a natural hue like white, tan, cream, pink, or green.

spring summer floral flowy dresses jacket gucci zimmermann prada etro

Zimmermann, Gucci, Etro, and Prada are safe bets for any full-look pairing, but our picks are (above from left to right): the linen and cotton dress from Zimmermann, the structured silk dress from Gucci, the full-length cotton dress from Etro, and the simple and elegant cream ruffled satin dress from Prada.

We’re loving all of options for summer escapist style, and will surely be integrating elements of this 2020 fashion trend made from raffia, rope, and bamboo into our wardrobes over the following months.

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For more Fashion Trends coverage, check out Pantone 2020 Color of the Year: Classic Blue, what Style Icon Vanessa Zoppas is predicting for the year ahead, and Preppy Style.

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About the Author

Alex English is the Head of Content Marketing at italist.com, building on a lifelong passion for fashion and luxury. After publishing a lifestyle blog for nearly ten years and obtaining an MBA in Milan at SDA Bocconi, one of Europe’s top business schools, he joined the italist team in 2019. His work since then has focused on upper-funnel messaging, brand storytelling, establishing italist as a thought leader in the space, and enriching the customer experience on the platform. Find him on LinkedIn.