Two years ago, textile importer Mourad Nafti was deep in the medina of the Tunisian capital Tunis when he first discovered a fouta towel. He was visiting 75-year-old textile dealer Uncle Sam on a buying trip for Focalpoint, a textile import company he established with his wife Jane Tryon that airfreights artisan products directly from Tunisa to the customer. Uncle Sam sat Nafti down and showed him a recent purchase – a fouta or hummam towel.
“There are a lot of towels out there but we hadn’t seen any with this quality of cotton and design,” Tryon explains.
It was the beginning of the duo’s love affair with foutas and sparked their desire to introduce them to Australia. Indeed, when Nafti returned to Australia from the buying trip, he brought with him a range of foutas for Tryon. The moment she began using them she knew they’d be easy to sell. “They are beautiful and versatile,” she says. “Particularly when you have a family. Hey can be a shawl, a picnic rug, a blanket, a sarong.” They’re also the ideal beach towel.
Foutas are loom woven using 100 per cent Egyptian cotton and are soft, durable and highly absorbent, and sourced directly from Tunisian artisans. The ends are finished with hand knotted fringing and come in summery ice-cream colours such as sunshine yellow, red rust, sea foam green and orange sorbet.
So this summer, ditch the sodden beach towels heavy with salt and sand and try a fouta.