Stella McCartney Ava Faux Python Clutch, $1995 via Net-a-Porter

Like any proud lover of luxury goods, I spend my fair share of time trying to explain to people that we’re not all slaves to a famous name when it comes to paying for accessories. Sure, some of the reason that prices are the way they are is that many of the brands we love have built of a reputation and history for themselves as employing the kind of aesthetic and artistic talent to craft the finest leather goods on the planet. The name is something, particularly when it stands for a history of craftsmanship and quality, but it’s not everything. Or so I argue. When I look at a bag like the Stella McCartney Ava Faux Python Clutch, though, I can’t help but wonder if I’m merely brainwashed.

I actually don’t have any aesthetic qualms with this design; in fact, I think it’s quite nice and I’m impressed that they got yellow material and gold hardware to function together without looking terrible. It’s no small feat! What I do have a problem with is the fact that it costs $2000 for what is essentially a gussied up PVC box clutch not dissimilar in fabrication to what you’d find at your local Target.

Sure, I’m understand that the manufacturing is probably more careful. The design, too, is much nicer, and those two things definitely factor in to what a bag costs. What brands often cite as the largest influencer of handbag prices, though, is materials, and that’s a place where Stella McCartney has little room to argue on her own behalf. Everywhere else in her line, she uses nothing but the best, which you can tell as soon as you lay eyes on one of her gorgeous knits. Because McCartney has strong views on the ethics of animal products in fashion, though, no leather goes into any of her bags, as most of you probably know. It’s all PVC.

I applaud her for sticking to her convictions about what materials she will and won’t use, but I believe that with the use of PVC should come with an adjustment in price. As I explained last time I wrote about a PVC bag, it’s simply not a luxury material by any stretch of the imagination, and it’s just about as cheap as it gets. I’ve never seen any claim from McCartney that the PVC she uses is some kind of special chemical blend that makes it more environmentally friendly or luxurious, and from what I can tell it’s just…PVC. I’ve never seen McCartney make any claims about the environmental friendliness of her PVC, and some of it has struck me was rather leather-like, but mostly, I haven’t been impressed.

So while I’m ok with McCartney charging a little bit extra for her name and maybe even a lot extra for design and construction, the fact that Stella charges fine leather prices for the finest in oil-based chemical non-leather will forever stop me from owning one of her bags. It’s too bad, I really like this clutch. Buy through Net-a-Porter for $1995.

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  • Alexandra Davidoff

    In my opinion there is only one reason why McCartney’s PVC is just as expensive as real designer Italian leather – her own greed and ego. She refuses to utilize animal skins for her creations and yet wants to be put up there with all the other fine designers, ripping off her loyal fan/customers in the process. I have to agree her profits are probably the result of brainwashing – she is just like a pop star who’s voice on the disc isn’t real but made up of layers of auto-tune and computer enhancement (and they probably couldn’t sing live) and who they go and see on tour regardless. And like the pop star, the product looks cute, but is 100% certifiable fake.

  • aidan

    THANK YOU!

  • Nanci

    Well said. I think that it is fine for a brand name to command a certain price but that the materials must be factored in. It also cracks me up when people describe a bag as being made from vegan leather. Um, that’s just PVC, right?

  • Sandra Rowley

    Yes, I have been waiting for someone to point this out. I have been trying in so many of my comments. I refuse to purchase anything Stella McCartney for this reason. (even the clothes) When you are making goods out of PVC, not matter how well stitched, the price should reflect the materials.

  • http://dontaskmetosmile.wordpress.com Kat

    Substituting PVC for leather does not make sense from an overall environmental perspective at ALL. Yes, there are ethical issues when it comes to real leather. But one could argue that there are just as many, if not more, issues with using PVC. PVC is one of the most environmentally hazardous consumer materials ever produced. Not only is it petroleum based, its production consumes an enormous amount of energy, its entire life cycle (from production, to actual usage, to combustion/recycling) poses health risks to livestock and humans (including cancer) and it is EXTREMELY difficult to recycle.

    So how is PVC a more “ethical” option versus leather?

    I used to feel neutral about Stella McCartney, but now I feel an utter loathing slowly forming.

    • Katrin

      It’s more “ethical” because no animals are dying in the process! 
      It may produce hazardous risks but so does the production of leather/meat industry type products. Posing a ‘health risk’ to livestock is a lot more ethical than killing it. 

      • jenna

        your lack of compassion for animals is really sad you ignorant, materialistic bitch.

  • Pixiejenna

    I’ve always felt the same way. I love her bags with the chains on them but I haven’t been able to justify the cost even when on sale.

  • t

    Well written Alexandra- spot on!!

    • Alexandra Davidoff

      Thanks!

  • http://www.bearboring.com Musette

    Alexandra and Kat pretty much cover everything I was going to say – so I’ll just add this: SM is just getting sillier.

    • Alexandra Davidoff

      Thanks, Musette! Glad to know I wasn’t too crazy on this post, and yes I definitely agree – McCartney is getting sillier.

    • http://dontaskmetosmile.wordpress.com Kat

      Thanks. I just got really, really riled up by this SM. Using ethics as an excuse to use PVC versus leather is just ridiculous enough as it is, AND then she has the gall to charge premium leather prices. RIDICULOUS.

      • Kat

        *by this POST on SM.

      • Suntan Tuesday

        I think it is so sad that you all keep referring to leather as premium and worth more than other materials….. animals have been harvested for their skin, slaughtered in their millions… when your grand children ask why you stood by during the animal holocaust what will you say about your desire for ‘premium’ products…….

  • Marie Martell

    Agree with everyone here!

    http://nyorkeratheart.blogspot.com

  • camilla

    you got ther point. I never never would buy something from her, it’s simple absurd. She says she is green but please tell me how can it be if she uses plastic (eco-leather is plastic) but the prices are like best phyton and not faux one. I hate people like her. We can make the difference, we as customers can refuse to play her game.

  • John

    The sad thing is, people will still probably buy this. You can buy a Balen or PS1 already with what you spend on this clutch.

  • http://fashionableteacher.onsugar.com mochababe73

    I have never been fooled by Stella. I just don’t get it when I see women that I know are wealthy carry that Fallabella bag. I finally got to see one in person, and I wasn’t impressed. To be honest, I thought that the PVC felt cheap and tacky.
    I remember when one of my favorite designers, Marc Jacobs, made a PVC bag for around $300. I wouldn’t pay $300 for one, and I definitely wouldn’t pay $2000. When I think about what kind of nice, leather bag that I could buy for that kind of money (even at $300), it just makes me wonder how stupid Stella thinks that her consumers are.
    With that being said, it’s a nice bag that I wouldn’t pay no more than $50 for.

    • Katrin

      Not everyone wants to buy a ‘nice, leather bag,’ I have bought many SM bags and I love them, they are durable, gorgeous and cruelty free! 

  • rose60610

    I think that if her father were someone other than Sir Paul, the scads of celebrities and fashion editors would not give her the time of day, let alone buy and promote her hideous bags. Buying her so called “animal and environment friendly” bags at the prices they go for reflect a consumer for whom money is no object or someone who is given McBags to wear in public. I can’t believe her clothes and shoes have nothing to do with animals (wool? leather? silk?) And the celebrities and others that have scores of her bags? Think they have other bags that ARE leather? As a group, most celebrities are the biggest bunch of nauseating hypocrites out there.

  • Chris

    I think it is very simple: as long as people are buying her bags, Ms. McCartney might as well ask for a ridiculously high price. Come on, guys ! Does anybody here think that $39,000 for a backpack from The Row was justified? It sold out nevertheless. Yes, Ms. McCartney probably laughs all the way to the bank. Good for her. I do not understand why people would bash her, she is not forcing anybody to buy her handbags, is she?
    Having said that, the clutch is not bad. I would not buy it though, first because of the price, and second I need more versatile handbags.

  • PurseFan

    I agree with you all. It is just greed. Every luxury brand has to find a way to pay for their Hampton estates. :) And remember cost of a product is 10%-20% of MSRP based on product ( this includes materials, manufacturing and overhead expenses.)

    But what really kills me is this so-called environmental moved towards PVC products. The dirty little secret they don’t tell you is that to color the bags, they use LEAD BASED PAINT!!! California and some European countries require a disclaimer be place on the bags so consumers know their purse is covered in lead-based paint and can be harmful to your health if ingested like when you are eating you sandwich at lunch after handling your bag.

    So maybe they should move on to cotton, denim, etc.

  • http://www.wingedreviews.com Daphne

    It’s a shame that it’s such a nice design, but terrible material. I can image what it feels like and I don’t think the looks can make up for the ‘fake leather’ feeling. I agree there is something special about owning bags made with luxury materials, and PVC is definitely not one of them.

    Boo, Stella.

  • Mari

    Word.

  • Rashida

    I am digging the comments! They are so spot on! I wouldn’t pay that much money for some crap like that! Sorry!

  • Anonymous

    PVC / PU is not good for the environment! it is made from plastics & petrochemicals, and the processes for creating the material cause pollution. its not ecologically friendly, and that for me is the great irony. fine, its not animal skin, but its also not good for the planet.

    • Evans

      The tanning process of leather is not good for the planet. It is picking the lesser of two evils. Either you kill an animal and harm the planet or you do some harm to the planet. Tanned hides do not naturally biodegrade well and the chemicals are incredibly toxic.

  • Subbz

    I saw a similar clutch in Zara, only it wasn’t fake python and wasn’t 2000 dollars.

  • mizzc

    FINALLY!! Someone publicly said what i’ve always thought!! I would NEVER buy any of her bags/shoes. If i’m paying upwards of $2000 or more on a handbag, I want it to be made from a real cow, lizard, alligator or some other once living breathing thing:-).

    • Mary

      Your best friend human skin perhaps???

      OK I won’t pay $2000 for her bags or any other PVC one but also won’t agree to breed or kill other animals for my own  selfish desire. Wake up!

    • Katrin

      That is actually the most disgusting comment I’ve read so far. 
      I want a bag made from your skin so ignorant people like you can open their eyes, although realistically people like you would probably buy it.

    • Suntan Tuesday

      Animals have been harvested for their skin, slaughtered in their millions… when your grand children ask why you stood by during the animal holocaust what will you say about your desire for ‘premium’ products…….

  • Gi

    No handbag is ever worth the “designer price” – a bag’s real manufacturing cost is not affected all that much by the material(s) it is created with. 80%+ of handbag’s cost goes to PR, marketing, sales operations, distribution, logistics, etc. along with cost of maintaining perceived brand value. This is why luxury conglomerates fight so hard to protect their brands and designs.  

    So saying Stella McCartney is not worth it because it isn’t real python / leather is not really a valid claim. 

    • Katrin

      Finally, your comment has brought me out of my anger from reading the other comments.

  • Shida205

    Right on Amanda! Get in her butt! PVC is not high end period!

  • Phee

    My thought exactly!!!! I always think shea overcharge her creation!! she uses cheaper material while charging high-sky price, just because her name..not her fan!

  • mardianamd

    Spot on. Thank you…

  • Guest

    excuse my French, but that bag and this woman…what a crock of sh**.
    Does she think we have half a brain?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PBGZWHMGVTZ5QBBLSPHZ57EATI Shirley

    My personal guess was around $35,000 and I thought that even that kind
    of figure might be a little low, particularly when you consider that so
    many designers seem to be in some sort of unofficial race to see who can
    produce the most ridiculously expensive bag

  • Lettygirl

    I actually had a very similar discussion with a close friend who is a huge Stella follower.  I can’t believe she still told me, “well they are still a couple hundred less than a PS1 or balenciaga,” and I was like, yes but that is leatherrrrr! 
    Of course, to each their own, but I will personally not buy one.  Thanks for posting.

  • Emcilhany

    Well, I won’t wear real snakeskin.  Please put up anything from Target that looks like this because I just got mine and it’s huge, innovative and beautiful.

  • Emcilhany

    I will never stop loving Stella.  Her attitude may not be perfect but it’s a start.  If you guys want an excuse to keep wearing exotic animal skins-what did these animals ever do to you?-you don’t need to be here.  I am rich, and vegan, and I want to feel luxurious.  I will support her in any way I can.

    • rintamakilover

      This is the best comment. I am rich, vegan and I want to feel luxurious too. Stella is an iconoclast in her field. She has very ingeniously made not just a name for herself but a brand of trying to be a better/ethical brand. I am a man and I want her to start creating a men’s line. I actually thought about it last night. It should be called “SIR Stella.”

      • rintamakilover

        I’ve been debating whether I could rock a Black Falabella. But this is not just fashion but a cause I’d like to support so either way I guess I should just buy it and rock it hard for my upcoming 30th!

      • Briana

        Exactly how I feel! Honestly, I don’t feel that any bag is worth $2000, but Stella Mccartney is a high profile designer/celebrity who is making a very bold statement. There are a lot of people who buy her bags, not because they are vegan, but because they have a designer tag. So.. she’s making a point that we can be high fashion and kind at the same time. :) So, yes I would pay the price for this bag. Absolutely.. that is if I had the money haha

  • Loffve

    I have stella bags.and i can make the best price for you.
    Loffve@hotmail.com

  • Katrin

    I disagree completely with this article, I loved it though because the clutch is gorgeous! 

    I think that what she is doing is amazing because people who disagree with buying leather and animal cruelty can feel just as luxurious as the next person. I’m not saying this is the case for everyone but purely for myself. I’ve been vegan since I was 13 and was never able to buy beautiful luxurious bags until McCartney. Yes it sounds materialistic but we wouldn’t be looking at bags in that price range if we weren’t a little materialistic anyway! I love that I can have an amazing clutch, just as nice as that of my Burberry-Prada-Trending friends without the burden and guilt of leather. 

  • TT

    I don’t believe in buying leather or fur. I’ve tried cheapo PVC bags and they always fray within a couple uses and are stiff. I bought my first SM bag almost three years ago and it is still in awesome shape and has not frayed one bit. Her materials are not the same cheapo non leather alternatives you find with low-end designs. I believe in quality over quantity so buying one SM bag every two or three years is better than buying five or six crappy bags every year. Oh and my issue is with the animals and use of their bodies for vanity purposes, not with the environment, so I will continue to buy her bags.

  • Alena

    I totally agree with the article! When I was younger, all I could afford was cheap plastic shoes and bags. Now, as I am getting older, I think I deserve class and elegance, I want to have nice luxurious things, and to my opinion they don’t go together with cheap Chinese overpriced plastic (or, maybe, it’s made in Italy (the plastic it is) and that’s why it’s so expensive?).

  • jade

    They are expensive because vegan materials are expensive. Compare a Target bag to a Stella bag and try to convince yourself there is no difference, I challenge you.

  • emmpromo@gmail.com

    I am an accessory design student and as someone who is exposed to the manufacturing side of handbags and has constant access to swatch book, after swatch book, I can tell you that there is very little difference in the feeling of faux leather and real leather- not cheap faux, but high quality luxury faux materials. Leather is made from animal skin, which will rot unless treated by a number of toxic chemicals in morally apprehensible conditions, that often result in health issues for the workers tanning these hides, not to mention the terror and torment of the animals that provide us with this “luxurious” leather. You have been conditioned to equate luxury with leather- in the same way that you have been conditioned to find beef or chicken delectable, but cat or dog disgusting as a food source. As previous commenters have mentioned, materials are the least expensive consideration in the pricing of a handbag. If you knew how much it actually cost to create some of those “luxury” goods you have been carrying, your brain might explode with disgust. Ultimately it is a the context in which a bag is placed and the quality of materials- faux or not, that create a sense of luxury. It’s time to start equating luxury with compassion and Stella McCartney is doing a wonderful job at that.

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