Hermes Leather and Skins Guide
The rare and high quality leathers and colors used on Hermès Birkin and Kelly bags are among the signature features of these icons, contributing to making the bags so unique when compared to other luxury handbags. Hermès have led the way for many years when it comes to utilizing only the best and most exotic leathers and skins on their bags.
Finding the perfect leather for your Hermès bag is a challenge. There are many different leathers, exotic skins, and colors to choose from, each of which have their own characteristics and qualities. This guide is designed to help you make that all important decision with information and tips on all Hermès leathers.
This leather was originally used for Hermès saddles and is without a doubt one of the finest leathers available. The high grade calf leather features a wonderfully smooth exterior with a hint of gloss which allows it to dazzle. It is usually mixed with a white top stitch and is completely scratch resistant due to the oil absorbing material, also making it water resistant and ideal for the rainy season. The only tiny drawback to this leather is that it develops patina over time.
Another high grade calf leather, the box calf is the oldest type of leather used in Hermès bags and is present in many vintage Kelly bags. The smooth finish offers a sophisticated appearance with scratches and blemishes blended into the material over time with light buffing. However, the leather is undoubtedly seasonal and caution is advised when handling it in rainy weather as water marks will stain the bag.
A soft leather made of water buffalo, the buffalo skipper offers a medium sized grainy appearance. When this leather is dyed, it absorbs the chemical close to the center of the grain. This provides a somewhat spotted appearance and a classic look. This leather is ideal for heavy use as it is water resistant and scratches are buffed out without too much effort.
Introduced by Hermès in 2007, the Buffalo Sindhu Leather is crafted from the hide of a water buffalo. Utilized in the Green Party Line only, the leather features a unique grain size and coloring. There is also a variance in the leather due to this which makes it a distinct and unique hide to work with. It is ideal for heavy use and is very resistant against scratches.
A material that differs from other leathers dramatically, the canvas isn’t really a true leather. However, the durable cloth is treated and combined with several other leathers to create an exterior that can withstand almost any force of nature. This material is among the easiest to clean and is one of the longest lasting materials produced by Hermès.
The matte version of the box calf leather, the Chamonix is incredibly smooth. However, as the leather offers a matte finish it is not shiny and as such does not scratch easily. In fact, scratches on this leather are easily buffed out and can blend into the material to provide a vintage appearance. Be careful with this leather in rainy weather as it is not water resistant and water marks will not fade away.
A strong and resilient goathide leather, this is the perfect option for those who plan to use their Hermès bag on a regular basis. The lightweight leather is ideal for carrying around on a daily basis and the smooth finish and soft texture is surprising when you consider how tough it is against scratches. This leather combines luxury and practicality to perfection and is a great option for any Hermès bag.
A more refined version of the Chevre de Coromandel, this leather is also made from goathide and completely resistant to scratches. The leather is also lightweight and easy to handle with the major difference being that the grain is more visible on the material than on the Chevre de Coromandel. If you want the qualities of the Chevre de Coromandel with a more refined grain, this is the material for you.
Made from baby bull, this leather has been on the scene since the 1980s and is very much a classic material. The heavy leather is extremely durable, offering tough resistance against tarnishing, although it tends to be one of the slouchier leathers. Many women see this as an advantage, especially when using the bag daily and any cracking that appears at the edges of the bag can be easily refurbished. Be careful with this material around water as water blisters are very difficult to remove.
A similar leather to the popular Epsom, the Courchevel offers a very even grain throughout. Another slight difference is that it is glossier and darker at the top part of the gain than the Epsom, a feature that some women prefer. The leather is very lightweight, making it easy to carry and many tarnishes, spills, and other marks are easy to clean.
A rare processed male cowhide, the Vache Trekking Leather is known for its fine press. Available since 2009, Hermès developed this leather for use on a select range of bags. Due to the nature of the grain it’s only available in a limited number of colors and is extremely rare to find on a Hermès bag.
A processed female calf leather, the Country Leather is famed for its fair firmness. A relatively new addition to the Hermès leather collection, this leather was only released in 2012. It is mainly used for the Garden Party lineup and offers a strong protection against everyday wear as well as a large grain size for a unique pattern.
Another leather introduced in 2012, the Grain d’H Calfskin is a processed male calf leather that features a finely structured press. It is used on a range of Hermès products including bags and wallets. The small grainsize on the leather provides a soft, yet textured feel, while the strength offers protection against scratches and other accidental damage.
Coming directly from Africa’s Nile River in a region of Zimbabwe, this skin offers a matte finish and a more distinct pattern. The highly sought after larger scales on this skin makes it an iconic choice in the fashion industry. It is possible to identify your bag as being made from Niloticus skin by locating two apostrophe signs somewhere on the finish near the Hermès logo. Make sure to keep this skin away from water as wet can cause permanent damage.
Much like its sister, this skin also comes directly from Africa’s Nile River in a region of Zimbabwe. However, unlike the matte finish, this skin is treated to hours of buffing for a glossier and shiny finish. You will also find larger scales on this skin and it is also identifiable by locating two apostrophe signs somewhere in the finish nnear the Hermès logo. Much like its sister, be sure to keep it away from water.
Another popular crocodile skin, this comes from crocodiles farmed in Australia and Southeast Asia. As with the Niloticus Shiny, the finish on this skin is designed to dazzle with continuous hours of buffing offering a stunning and head turning finish. You can identify this skin by searching for the ^ symbol somewhere on the finish. Once again, keep away from water and avoid getting it wet.
Created by using wool felt and polishing the spots off with the use of gentle machinery, the Crocodile Porosus Matte Leather is finished up with a matte touch to create an iconic look. The saltwater crocodile of Australia and Southeast Asia is much sought after and the matte finish is one of the most popular skins crafted by Hermès.
A skin that comes from the Mississippi Alligator, this leather is created by polishing the spots with agate for a Lisse finish. Easily identifiable by the scales still present on the skin, this is a rare finish on Hermès handbags and usually only found on limited edition or special order bags. Due to the difficulty in finding skins large enough, it is more common to see this skin on a size 25 Birkin.
Unlike other leathers which maintain the pattern from the skin they are taken from Epsom leather is an embossed leather. This means the pattern pressed into the leather isn’t the actual grain. However, this has some major benefits such as allowing the leather to hold its true shape in all circumstances and also means it is completely resistant to scratching. The material is also lightweight and cleans with a simple wipe using a damp cloth.
Another embossed leather, the evergrain has one key difference – it maintains a soft and luxurious feel. Many embossed leathers can feel rough or stiff, however, the evergrain offers that smooth and soft touch that so many women love. Unfortunately, because the leather is so soft it is prone to scratches and while small scratches are easily removed with a gentle rubbing of the fingers, large scratches may have to be buffed out by a professional.
An unprocessed surface makes this leather extremely delicate. However, it also features a strong hardness which means as it matures through use and over time the color and texture of the leather also changes. A totally smooth finish makes this one of the softest leathers to the touch and it is a joy to run your fingers over the completely smooth surface of any bag featuring this material.
Introduced by Hermès in 2004, the Derma Leather is crafted from the male calf. Processed until incredibly smooth, this leather is known for its softness to the touch and the smooth and matte texture. Although extremely delicate, it is a rewarding leather as it can be crafted to almost any shape once processed.
Crafted from a male calf, this leather is also known as unborn calf leather that has yet to be processed and dyed. The features it is best known for include its smooth texture and wonderful coat which is full of luster. A rare find, this type of leather is used on very few Hermès bags worldwide.
Also known as Nubuck, the Velvet Leather is crafted from a male calf rawhide. Featuring a coat on the surface, the suede leather is trimmed to a velvet finish. Generally used on accessories and other Hermès products, it is possible to find this leather on a select few handbags.
An adult calf leather, the fjord features a much flatter and wider grain than other leathers such as the Clemence. The texture of the leather is very soft to the touch, offering an elegant appearance and the exterior is completely water resistant. A small drawback is that this leather is slightly heavier than other leathers available, however, the classy finish counterbalances this and makes it well worth the weight.
Arriving on the scene in 2007, this male calf leather is mainly developed in the Garden Party lineup. The leather is characterized by large grains and a medium hardness. Due to the difference between the Negonda and Buffle Sindhu in terms of coloring, there is also a variance in leather utilized. This is a great leather for use on bags which are going to be used quite heavily and it is tough and resistant.
It is easy to guess what skin this leather is made of from the name, but it is the characteristics of ostrich leather skin that makes it so intriguing. The leather skin has several pores throughout and actually darkens when it comes into contact with human skin and lightens when it is exposed to light, including both sunlight and a lamp. The leather skin is extremely durable and can be wiped down if wet to maintain its appearance.
Formerly known as Gulliver leather until it was discontinued in 1999, this wonderful leather was reintroduced to the market in 2005 under the new name Swift. The leather features a fine grain which is incredibly soft to touch and has the ability to reflect light while absorbing dye like few other leathers on the market. The only drawback is that it is prone to scratches, however, small scratches are easily removed by a gentle swipe of your fingers.
Made from baby calf, the Togo is the half-sister to the Clemence which is made from the hide of a young bull. The Togo is lighter than the Clemence and holds it shape much easier. Many women choose the Togo for larger bags for this reason, although the decision is really a personal one if you prefer a slouchier look or a more rigid appearance. The exterior is defined by a soft pebbled finish that feels smooth yet grainy.
Available in both matte and lisse finishes, this is one of the higher maintenance, yet rewarding, leather skins. The small lizard scales on the bag offer a shiny appearance, even on the matte finish, and provide a grainy feel to the touch. However, the scales are extremely delicate and need protection from water and tarnishing. They also have a tendency to dry out and consistent maintenance is required for the upkeep of the exterior.
First making its appearance during the 2007 Fall/Winter collection, Lizard Leather has quickly become a favorite among Hermès lovers. This skin is extremely valuable and rare and is processed as little as possible to maintain its natural texture. It is common to find bags with a combination of Lizard Leather and other exotic skins due to the rarity of this particular material.
It is easy to assume that this is a box calf leather upon first glance and indeed it does share a lot of the same qualities. However, Veau Tadelakt is much softer than box calf and has no visible grains on the outside providing it with an incredibly smooth and superior appearance. In fact, many women find it hard to believe this is actually a leather at all!
- Only the finest leathers and exotic skins are used to craft each Hermès bag. All stitching on the leather is done by hand, with every minute detail considered during the process.
- An Authentic Hermès bag will feature very few, or no, bulges in the leather or skin. It will sit upright on its own accord and offer a smooth silhouette.
- All exotic skin Birkin and Kelly bags are sold with a CITES, used for transportation. There are some countries which will not allow entry with an exotic bag unless it is accompanied with a passport.
- Tri-color and exotic skin marriage bags are among the rarest Birkins and Kellys.
- The leather strap at the front of the bag will always have clean edges.