Python is used on just about everything--shoes, bags, coats, clothes, accessories, you name it. The reason is because of the naturally beautiful and lux look of the skins and their exotic nature. People have been wearing snake skins for thousands of years, so this is nothing new. But, what makes it so controversial is the scale at which it is being used.
Pythons are internationally recognized as endangered and are strictly regulated. The python skins used in fashion are supposed to be from farmed pythons, but because of the tremendous demand of the skins by the fashion industry international organizations are skeptical that laws are being followed. Most python comes from Indonesia and it is thought that many of the supposed "farmed pythons" are actually wild pythons that are being poached from the rain forests. Because of the decimation of the python population, their natural prey, the rat has gotten out of control in parts of Indonesia and are busy spreading the plague.
As if the poaching of endangered species isn't bad enough, it is also the method of death that the pythons suffer from at the hands of some "farmers" that has people up in arms. Pythons can be skinned alive or their head is nailed to a tree and then they are inflated for ease of skinning. These inhumane practices aren't done everywhere, but because the method of skin harvesting is not disclosed, one cannot be sure how the snake was treated.
Python is beautiful and will always be part of fashion. There are many ways to enjoy python products without participating in the cruelty. One is to inquire as to what country the skins came from--pythons are also raised in countries like Brazil, where they are not wild. Also, one always has the option of buying vintage! Because the skins, if properly maintained, can last for a very long time there are many wonderful options to choose from, such as the one pictured. It is a vintage 1960's python clutch!
Picture from vintageskins.com which is hands-down the best vintage bag retailer on the net!