Behind the Bag: Mentawai Bamboo Tote

Our Mentawai bamboo tote bag is a transeasonal STELAR staple, available in a range of different cotton jacquard colourways. For the first in our 'Behind the Bag' series, we are sharing the story of how our Mentawai tote bags are made.


Available in three sizes, the structure of our Mentawai tote is truly innovative for a basket bag, as its considered design makes it both robust and lightweight in equal measure. This means that, when looked after well, it will last for a decade or more, even with frequent use.

It all starts with the bamboo, which is organically grown on the island of Lombok by some of our artisan community. Bamboo is indigenous to Indonesia, and has been used for centuries as a building material, and to weave daily utilitarian objects (such as baskets and mats) due to it's strength and durability.



Bamboo is one of the world's most naturally sustainable materials. It grows easily in the Indonesian climate and regenerates itself. It takes very little sustenance from the soil, so can be cultivated without huge disruption to local biodiversity.

Bamboo also removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and converts it into oxygen, as well as storing it in its network of roots below ground. As it's below ground, the stored carbon isn't released when the bamboo is harvested, making bamboo more environmentally friendly than even trees.

STELAR basket tote bag


Our artisan community on Lombok have been growing bamboo on their land and weaving with it for generations. In fact, the artisans we work with are into their 5th generation of bamboo cultivating and weaving. We collaborate with them on a range that is based on their traditional weaving methods and, in doing so, regenerate these skills and empower this community to thrive.

The Mentawai tote uses a double layer technique. The inner layer of the bag uses the bamboo's outer core fibres, which are rough and strong, giving the bag a highly durable interior. The Mentawai's outer layer is crafted from the inner fibres of the bamboo stalk, which are softer, giving the bag its unique flexibility and tensility.



Once the two layers of the Mentawai tote have been hand-sewn together, which in itself requires a high level of skill, the bag is given its colourful straps. The straps are created from cotton jacquard. The threads are woven on a traditional loom that has been modernised for this purpose. Setting the loom up in each combination of colours can take up to 24 hours - it's a highly skilled process.

As with all our handbags, the final touch on the Mentawai tote is our gold-tone metal disc that has been embossed with a unique code. When this code is typed into our website, the bag's owner is connected to the skilled artisan in Lombok who created it for them.
So, whilst our Mentawai tote appears to be a simple woven basket bag at first glance, that simplicity is a result of the collaboration and innovation that make STELAR unique. We're proud of the way we work, and look forward to sharing more 'Behind the Bag' stories with you.