Can someone explain to me why Stella McCartney’s bags are so expensive?

January 19th, 2012

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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Filled Under: Handbags Reviews