Basket Finds is a new series in which I chat to wonderful women who know a thing or two about hunting down the perfect basket for their home or their personal style.
This week, we’re in North London with Emily, the incredible woman behind the UK’s first shop dedicated to baskets and everything woven, to chat vintage shopping and naming our basket bags.
Hi Emily! First thing first, can you tell us a bit more about yourself?
Of course! I’m Emily and I’m the founder of Straw London. For years I have been collecting vintage woven bags and baskets from around the world. What started as a personal collection has grown to a shop where we still specialise in vintage bags and baskets but also sell a collection of vintage homeware and gifts as well as working on limited edition projects with artists, makers and weavers.
Just dreamy! As someone who collects baskets - is there one in particular you’re fond of? Which one did you pick as your best Basket Find?
It's almost impossible for me to choose a 'best' basket. Each bag or basket is a favourite of mine. As they are all unique pieces with a past, I name each piece based on where I've found it and they often stay with me as 'friends' before I share them.
One of my favourite stories is of a macramé bag called 'Lynda', she was found in Scotland and the name 'Lynda' was carved into her wooden handle. Back in the 70's these bags were used as school bags and it’s so heartwarming to think that this bag has lasted so long; most likely because it was treated with such care by its previous owner.
Having said that, there is one bag which has firmly stayed by my side. Her name is Anais and I discovered her under a pile of fabric at a small flea market in France in Spring 2019. She is from the 1950's and has such an unusual shape and design.
I’m so glad to know I’m not the only one naming my bags! How do you use Anais then?
She is less of a handbag and more of an everything bag. Typically, she is used to keep my treasured trinkets in - vintage fabrics I can't part with yet - and always marble eggs weirdly. However, she has been taken on a few fruit picking expeditions and has been used at dinner parties to carry the most important crudités.
People often tell me that they are sometimes afraid to use vintage baskets. I can understand this because they are often one of a kind, fragile and expensive, but the reason they have lasted so long is because they have been treated with care, baskets are for everyday use! Ideally not in the rain, but I've definitely used mine on cold winter days (admittedly I do get some strange looks).
I love a basket bag on a cold Autumn day! Any tips for someone who would like to find baskets beautiful as yours?
Vintage markets, shops and visiting makers are my absolute favourite part of running Straw. Despite the gruelling early starts and occasionally sleeping in the back of the car on the side of the road so you can attempt to be one of the first at a flea market (p.s. you never can be).
My biggest tip would be that if something catches your eye, whether in a charity shop, car boot sale or market, always investigate. Your perfect piece might be hiding under something.
Love this advice and it comes at the perfect time (outdoor markets are due to re-open on 1st June). Can you share one thing that has brought joy to your life during lockdown?
I am taking a lot of pleasure in learning to weave myself (with the help of your book!) and working with makers and weavers to create some of my own designs.
I would highly recommend trying to make something yourself, there's no better feeling than using something you have made that is completely unique.
I couldn’t have said it better! Thank you Emily.