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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rose60610
rose60610
10 years ago

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.

TT
TT
9 years ago

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.

stuck_in_the_suburbs
stuck_in_the_suburbs
8 years ago
Reply to  TT

This is a very appropriate comment. I have been vegan for about two years, and although I haven’t gotten rid of luxury bags that I purchased prior to becoming vegan, I have about four Stella bags, and they seem to hold up as well as any other designer bag that is made primarily of leather. Louis Vuitton are at an even higher price point, and they are made mostly of coated canvas with only leather trims. I looked at less expensive bags that were non-leather, but they had a cheap look. Admittedly, I like the fact that my Stella bags are considered a high end designer label, and if you weren’t into that, you wouldn’t be reading this blog. So, we all fall for that marketing.

Alexandra Davidoff
Alexandra Davidoff
10 years ago

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
aidan
10 years ago

THANK YOU!

Nanci
Nanci
10 years ago

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
Sandra Rowley
10 years ago

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.

Kat
Kat
10 years ago

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.

Archana
Archana
7 years ago
Reply to  Kat

Leather tanneries are on the top list of pollutants. And how many of your designer bags use vegetable dyes for your bags ? non.

I think both are equally bad. I hope this pvc bag will last for a long time and go to the recycle pile. Thats all i can hope for.

And one women is doing her gig among a sea of haters and i-dont-care-about animals world. I would support her for her strength. He label is now part of the conglomerate, and she will have to fight everyday for her ideas over stock owners happiness.

Thats all i have to say.

Katrin
Katrin
10 years ago
Reply to  Kat

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
jenna
8 years ago
Reply to  Katrin

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

stuck_in_the_suburbs
stuck_in_the_suburbs
8 years ago
Reply to  jenna

Whoa, there! No need for nasty comments. We should be ambassadors for a gentle, vegan lifestyle. To each his own. I prefer Stella bags because I feel hypocritical buying leather if I don’t eat animals. The bags are beautiful, durable, and functional. Anyone who has ever compared Stella bags to a PVC bag at TJ Maxx will know the difference.

Pixiejenna
Pixiejenna
10 years ago

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
t
10 years ago

Well written Alexandra- spot on!!

Alexandra Davidoff
Alexandra Davidoff
10 years ago
Reply to  t

Thanks!

Musette
10 years ago

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

Kat
Kat
10 years ago
Reply to  Musette

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.

Suntan Tuesday
Suntan Tuesday
9 years ago
Reply to  Kat

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…….

Kat
Kat
10 years ago
Reply to  Kat

*by this POST on SM.

Alexandra Davidoff
Alexandra Davidoff
10 years ago
Reply to  Musette

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