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Support women, save the planet: The eco-friendly baskets of Rayas Collective

The Rayas collective partners with women weavers in El Salvador to bring chic (and eco-conscious) hand-woven bags to Berlin.

Photo: Jessica Wang

Single-use plastic is not so fantastic, and tote bags have become too ubiquitous to make a statement – plus, they’re not as eco as you think. If you’re looking for something both fashionable and functional to tow your essentials around town, consider becoming a basket case.

Best of all, they’re chic

Rayas Collective, founded in 2022 by sisters-in-law duo Consuelo Campos Kahlfeldt and Luisa Kahlfeldt, offers colourful baskets of every size and stripe – literally, as the word rayas means “stripes” in Spanish. It’s a name that represents both the woven structure of their wares and their roots. “It was important for us to use a Spanish word that communicates the project’s heritage and the collective team that is involved,” says Kahlfeldt.

Photo: Luisa Kahlfeldt

Her sister-in-law, who was born in El Salvador and moved to Germany in 2012, first brought one of the traditional baskets home from a visit to Central America in 2020 and gifted it to Kahlfeldt, who “instantly fell in love”. Dozens of friends and strangers commented on it, and they began to procure more. “Every time a family member would visit Germany from El Salvador, they came with an extra suitcase full of baskets that we gifted and sold to friends,” Kahlfeldt recalls.

By 2022, Rayas was officially born. The pair travelled to El Salvador and hired a team of skilled weavers. “It’s a skill usually transferred between family members, and for many living in remote villages an important means to make a living. It’s our mission to work hand in hand with our female weavers, exchange skills, prevent the handcraft from disappearing,” says Kahlfeldt.

She designs the baskets’ sizes and handles, Campos Kahlfeldt handles the production, and they both pick out the popping colours and patterns (their website offers hues like ‘Fanta’, ‘Jet Set’, ‘Yves K’, ‘Panna Cotta’, ‘Aperitivo’, ‘Matcha Latte’, ‘Barbie’, ‘Berries from the Bush’ and a pink-and-orange basket called ‘Shrimp’.) The baskets’ high-density polyethylene is waterproof, lightweight, sun resistant, tough to damage and one of the most widely-recycled plastic polymers available – all of which means they last at least 15-20 years.

It’s our mission to work hand in hand with our female weavers

And you can use them for almost anything, the pair says – dirt from a lake day or spilled yoghourt from a grocery run easily wipes away. Kahlfeldt hauls their medium-size basket to work or yoga, and employs their smaller iteration as an evening purse. “As a mother, I mostly use our large basket size as a modern-age Mary Poppins bag, seamlessly fitting all sorts of children’s essentials and my own things,” her sister-in-law adds.

Photo: Luisa Kahlfeldt

Best of all, they’re chic. “The baskets are definitely also a local fashion statement in El Salvador, not just here,” Kahlfeldt says. “Combining a traditional craft with contemporary design language, details and colours creates new value and the opportunity to promote the lesser-known cultural heritage of El Salvador, which is what we are passionate about.” With summer pop-ups around the corner and a showroom on the way, maybe you should put all your eggs in these baskets.