Bag Review: Dagne Dover Ava Bucket Bag (Bone Onyx Leather)

Monday, April 24, 2017

After having had my mind blown by the Dagne Dover Charlie Tote, I figured the Ava Bucket Bag couldn't possibly compete. While the Bone Onyx Ava wasn't exactly my first choice of bag (or color) from the Leather Edit, the price was too good to ignore—I couldn't not give it a chance, you know?

Spoiler alert: it was worth it.

Content Accessibility — 3/5

Note: I like to keep the snaps snapped because #aesthetics.

Smaller items (i.e. my Dagne Dover card case, phone, pen, and keys on the key leash) are incredibly easy to get in and out of the Ava. On the other hand, larger items (such as pouches and mini notebooks) may require some special maneuvering to remove. There are only two substantial pockets (one for the card case and one for a phone), and the lack of zippered pockets seems a little unusual. Without a pouch to corral all the little things that zip pockets might normally hold (gum, lip products, change, etc), these smaller items are more likely dwell in the depths of the bucket bag, lost to the world until the trash:keep ratio is too grave to bear. If you take out larger items right before you need them with both hands free as well a surface to put your bag on, the accessibility issue will tend to resolve itself.

Tip for Key Leash: When I first started using the bag, I was worried that items in the half of the bag containing the key leash might get scratched up by my keys. If you own a Dagne Dover tote with a water bottle holder, put the holder in that side of your Ava. You should be able to drop your keys into the water bottle holder (even alongside a standard plastic water bottle) using the key leash, thus protecting the contents around it (see above pic).

• Can the Ava fit a laptop? Even with the sides snapped, the Ava fits my 12" Macbook perfectly. #yaaaaas

Ease of Carry — 5/5

So first of all, I love that when I pushed this bag behind my hip to load groceries from my cart to the conveyor belt, it actually stayed there. Holy moly. Based on my experience so far with the Ava, you can squish this bag against your body, hold it comfortably between your legs on the seat in a car, and tilt it to rest against your lower back when you need it to be out of the way. Also, the Ease of Pulling Over Shoulder is a 5/5; you can do it one-handed and in one swift motion, which is great if you don't have another hand to spare.

Aesthetic — 3/5

Unlike the Simone Satchel or the Charlie Tote, the Ava was never a "must-have" bag for me. I already had a bucket bag that I liked, and the slouchy top/structured bottom didn't particularly appeal to me either. The silhouette has since grown on me after I started using it; it gives off an 'effortless' look, in part because it's effortless to carry. Although the bone leather appears off-white in stock photos, I feel it's almost  more of a beige-gray color in person. (I'm holding a kleenex up to the bag in the leftmost picture for reference!)

Price —3/5

$325 is a steep price to pay when you're as miserly as I am, but I don't feel it's out of line with other contemporary designers' pricing—plus the quality is definitely there. Dagne Dover does run the occasional sale on seasonal versions of their bags as well as sample sales, and Spring runs site-wide discount codes as well. (If you use eBates, a quick heads up—I've seen Spring's cash back percentage hit a whopping 24% at least twice since I joined.)

Suitability for Treacherous Travel — 2/5

If pick-pocketing is a problem where you live or where you're going, the Ava's "open" design isn't ideal. Even if you use your arm to pin the opening against your body, it still may not be enough to stop a thief from reaching in and swiping something with the right distraction. Because there are no zippered pockets, smaller items have a higher risk of being stolen—you may want to consider keeping some of them inside a large clutch or pouch that can't be easily removed while the bag is against your body and the snaps are still closed.

Durability — 3/5

The exterior of the bag is reasonably durable, although the strap sustained a mysteriously long and faint scratch from its time with the previous owner. The interior is a light-colored camo print fabric that isn't stain-proof, so consider using a small pouch to hold things that might potentially leak, break open, or melt. Be mindful of potential denim transfer to the bone leather, but also know that the onyx leather is the more likely of the two to routinely make contact with your jeans.

Overall Impression —4/5

Despite the many 3/5 ratings I've given the Ava in this post, I think it merits a 4/5 overall rating given how much I enjoy wearing it. (It's also worth noting that the Price and Travel ratings are meant to be general and are not specific to my situation—I paid far less than retail for mine and currently live in a low-crime area.) My personal opinion is that the Ava is an above-average bag that, while perhaps not as revolutionary as the Charlie Tote, strikes a great balance between function and aesthetic. (In fact, I think it's one of the least unwieldy shoulder bags I've ever owned!)

Edited 1/22/18 to add: As of a few days ago, I now own five Avas. 5/5 stars, would buy a sixth. The Bone Onyx Ava has actually become my least used Ava of the bunch!

Leave me a comment if you have any questions about the bag—I hope I can answer them for you!

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