In the realm of fashion and luxury, the allure of A-list celebrities donning exquisite accessories has always been a source of inspiration for fashion enthusiasts. It seems even the glamorous likes of Kate Middleton and Jennifer Lopez are opting for a touch of affordable luxury these days. What's causing this shift in the fashion landscape?
DISCLAIMER: This is an UNSPONSORED review. I purchased all of these products myself and am not affiliated with the brand mentioned in any way. All statements and expressions made about the products are solely the opinion of Tanner Leatherstein and are not meant to be conclusive or definitive. The purpose of this video is for informational and educational purposes only. We recommend that as a consumer, you exercise your due diligence and research on the products before adopting the opinion of Tanner Leatherstein.
The Aspinal of London Legacy
Established in 2001 by British entrepreneur Iain Burton, Aspinal of London was conceived with a grand vision—to forge a heritage brand synonymous with the finest British craftsmanship, luxurious materials, a vibrant palette, and contemporary design. This unique amalgamation has endeared the Aspinal brand to customers globally. Rooted in family values, Aspinal has cultivated a strong sense of community within its team and extended it to customers, fostering a welcoming environment in every store.
Iain Burton, the Founder and Chairman, boasts a remarkable background as the original inventor and supplier of audio guides to esteemed museums such as the National Gallery, the Louvre, and the Vatican. This initial collaboration birthed Aspinal, evolving into a supplier of high-quality keepsake museum gifts. Under Iain's discerning eye, skilled artisans were chosen to craft handmade leather stationery, propelling Aspinal into the illustrious English luxury brand it is renowned as today.
Inside Aspinal's Luxurious World
During my recent visit to Aspinal's flagship store on Regent Street, I couldn't help but be captivated by the luxurious British design that enveloped the space. Despite the brevity of my 12-hour trip to London, I delved into the store's offerings, discovering a mesmerizing array of leather bags and accessories. The staff, characterized by their incredible kindness and helpfulness, graciously allowed me to shoot footage for a review upon my viewers' request.
As I explored, the diverse selection of leathers caught my eye, ranging from natural Nappa finishes to striking exotic prints. One particular gem was the Mayfair bag in croc print—an item that, despite its remarkably realistic appearance, retained affordability compared to genuine crocodile leather. This accessibility has undoubtedly contributed to its popularity among the A-list crowd, with celebrities like Jennifer Lopez, Selena Gomez, and Jessica Alba favoring this standout piece.
Aspinal's Philanthropy in Fashion
While delving into the brand's rich background, I discovered the remarkable philanthropic endeavors of Aspinal. One notable initiative was their collaboration with the esteemed British actress, Elizabeth Hurley, back in 2010. The result was the creation of the exquisite Elizabeth Hurley bag, a stylish accessory with a purpose.
For every purchase, Aspinal committed to donating £100 to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, championing the fight against breast cancer. This inspiring collaboration truly exemplifies the potential impact that consumer purchases can have on significant and worthwhile causes. It's heartwarming to appreciate the thoughtfulness and dedication behind such partnerships, as they serve as a reminder of the power we hold as consumers to make a difference.
Global Production and Quality Assurance
I didn't stop at researching the brand's history and philanthropy. Intrigued, I delved deeper into the production process. Manufacturing locations varied depending on the design: bags were produced in Europe or Asia, and the bag I had was crafted in India. In Spain, workshops in Ubrique still produced some bags for Aspinal. Interestingly, Spanish leathers were sent to Turkey for bag production. The initial manufacturing originated in Ubrique, Spain, before expanding to other leather clusters like Turkey and India.
Considering my previous reviews, where I've encountered exceptional bags from various countries like China, India, Turkey, Italy, and Spain, it's evident that quality isn't confined to a specific geographical origin. However, it's crucial to note that disappointments have also arisen from products carrying prestigious labels like "Made in Italy'' and "Made in France." This leads to the realization that the "Made in X" label doesn't guarantee a flawless product; rather, it serves as an indicator of the higher likelihood of a product's quality based on the country and its economic conditions.
Dissecting Ella’s Bag of Aspinal of London
Transitioning seamlessly, I embarked on a meticulous dissection of one of Aspinal's Ella bags. Armed with insights from previous experiences, I scrutinized the craftsmanship. I couldn't overlook minor issues, such as machine-finished stitches and needle punches on the back panel. Reflecting on details I noticed before the dissection, like the machine-finished stitches lacking the more durable saddle loop method and the needle punches indicating a potential error in the initial stitching, I speculated about potential quality control challenges, especially in workshops outside of Spain. The overlooked details, such as the needle punches on the back panel, raised concerns about the thoroughness of quality control procedures, hinting at possible lapses due to what seemed like a quality control issue arising from a degree of laxity in the workshop.
Quality and Caution in the Intricate Details of Aspinal of London
While the bag boasts a limited array of hardware, the chosen selection exhibits quality that surpasses expectations for its price point, leaving little room for complaint on the hardware side. The inner lining fabric stands out positively, offering a pleasing contrast, yet the internal support materials don't quite match the standards of high-end luxury bags typically dissected from Europe. These materials, while not reaching the same level, present themselves as cost-effective alternatives for supporting the bag's structure.
Upon applying acetone to remove the finish on the leather, it became evident that the calfskin boasts a super minimal, natural finish which I absolutely love. Although, the delicate nature of this leather is undeniable, prone to scratching and dirt accumulation if not handled with care.
Balancing Cost and Craft Behind the Beauty and Pricing
Assessing the raw materials and craftsmanship of this bag, I estimate that approximately 8 square feet of the exquisite calfskin would suffice for its production. With a conservative leather cost estimate of $50 and factoring in the complexity of crafting in India, the overall expenditure for leather, labor, and hardware should reasonably amount to $110. However, my purchase of this bag was at $525, resulting in a multiplier of 4.5 from my estimated cost.
Despite the seemingly high multiplier, it's noteworthy that without the identified minor quality issues, I would readily deem this a fantastic deal. There's a hint that such meticulous standards were potentially adhered to during the bag's production in Spain, considering that the quality control issues might not align with the meticulous mindset prevalent there. Nevertheless, with or without the overall sentiment, my view remains positive—the bag is undeniably beautiful, and the pricing is justifiably fair.
In understanding the story behind Aspinal of London's affordable luxury and the difficulties they face in ensuring quality, the journey explored the brand's rich history, charitable activities, and global production. Known for its British craftsmanship, the brand is loved by celebrities and customers. When I examined one of Aspinal's bags, I found some good things and some areas that need improvement in quality control. Since their products are made all around the world, they have to meet different standards. Despite some small quality issues, people generally have a positive view of the bag because it's beautiful and reasonably priced. Aspinal of London, with its long history and commitment to making luxury accessible, is an interesting example in the ever-changing world of fashion and quality assurance.