Hey, South Florida, it’s time to bring on the heat–Tunisia style. The ethical textile brand, Fouta Harissa is laying down roots in Miami with a key symbol of the coastal, North African lifestyle: the fouta. You might have seen them on Instagram or rolled up neatly in boutique hotels, but these hand-woven towels have been used in Tunisian bath houses (hammams) for over a century and have only just made their way across the Atlantic and onto our feeds. For a city with as much of a water and sun culture as Miami, this move for Fouta Harissa just makes sense.
Founded in 2018 by friends Alia Mahmoud and Lamia Hatira, the brand began where their own stories do: at the essence of Tunisian culture. A fouta is about as normal a sight in Tunisia as a pile of sandals are down here. Harissa, a sun-dried chili pepper paste and staple of Tunisian cuisine, practically beats you to the table at every restaurant before you even sit down. In other words, these two items are not only embedded into the every day culture of the country, but are relied upon for adding color–and efficiency–to each daily pleasure. “They’re also two items that we personally can’t live without.”
“The fouta is hands down the best compliment to beach life” said Lamia. “It’s 100% cotton, super absorbent, and stylish enough to wear to a pool party or to the beach as a wrap or dress.” Since Miami is a travel destination with unpredictable weather patterns, there are few things more functional than a fouta for cold flights, hot sun, or to cover your bed sheets or pillows in a pinch.
As life moved Alia and Lamia to two beachside cities, Miami and São Sebastião respectively, the two found themselves reverting to the fouta as a go-to gift for friends after visits back home. “When Lamia first moved to Brazil, she used to take store-bought foutas in her suitcase from Tunis to sell to friends and family,” said Alia. “The day she thought this could be something more serious, she called [me] to ask her to start this venture together, connecting Brazil and Miami and focusing on a country we both love, Tunisia.” And Fouta Harissa was born.
Fouta Harissa is a truly global brand that equally values modern design and ethical artisanal production. “We have a visionary creative team that designs limited collections of high-quality, hand-loomed textiles that preserve artisanal weaving in Tunisia while celebrating the soul of beach culture” they said. “The result is a modern take on a traditional textile.” The entire process of making a handwoven Fouta is 100% manual, uses no electricity or water, and incorporates the skills of various artisans and weavers. The result is a heavy investment in fair labor practices and contribution to artisanal job creation and economic development in Tunisia.
Since launching in Brazil last year, the brand has released several capsule collections–each one more popular than the last. “Past collections all allude to our beach nature and summer souls,” they said. Starting with their capsule collection “Heatwave”, followed by the colorful Brazilian hit “Summer Daze” and lastly their “Cosmic Seashell” collection which included linen pieces and more sober colors, ideal for the home and chilly days.
On September 22nd, they’ll be officially launching Fouta Harissa in Miami with the Magic City-fueled “Echo the Deco” collection inspired by Art Deco and the city’s vibrant culture. “We really embraced our love of color for this collection, thinking about what every Miamian would want to show off with at the beach,” said Alia. Their goal for Fouta Harissa is to put Tunisia’s robust culture on the map in a big way, which means they’re open to all kinds of creative collaborations and partnerships, and hope to expand the brand to include more key items from their home country.
Head to The Broken Shaker on September 22nd for their brand release jam and feel the beautiful foutas for yourself. Grab an early holiday gift for a loved one or leave the beach more stylish than when you arrived. RSVP here.
Photos courtesy of Fouta Harissa.