Chanel Leathers & Materials 101: Which One Should You Go For?

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There are so many incredible Chanel bags available made from stunning different types of leather – but which of the Chanel leathers or materials is best for you? Find out here!

The French fashion house, Chanel was first founded in 1910 by Coco Chanel and was known for beautiful and revolutionary womenswear collections.

However, it wasn’t until February 1955 that the iconic 2.55 Chanel bag was launched. This classic flap bag was another revolutionary moment in the fashion world, it was the first bag with a shoulder strap, meaning women had a hands-free way of carrying their belongings. The bag boasted endless practicality, with an adjustable shoulder strap and handy back pocket – the 2.55 was an instant success.

Chanel outfit with pink tweed blazer, white Chanel sweater and black Chanel flap bag
© Alberto Mihai |

The functional and beautiful design inspired more bags in the Chanel collection. Now, there are many different handbags in the Chanel collection, available in a range of different colors, sizes, and types of leather – the perfect option for any fashion enthusiast!

If you have taken a look at Chanel handbags you may have seen the wide variety of leathers offered by the brand and wondered which one should you go for. This article about Chanel leathers will explore the different leather offered by Chanel and delve into their pros and cons so you can easily pick the right one for you!

Chanel leathers

1. Caviar leather

Black Chanel Caviar Quilted Small Double Flap Bag
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Pink Chanel Iridescent Caviar Quilted Mini My Perfect Flap Bag
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Caviar leather is one of the most popular Chanel leathers because of its tough yet chic look. This type of leather is actually calfskin leather with a grainy, textured finish which looks elegant but also makes the leather more durable and stronger.

The main benefit of caviar leather is its durability, meaning it can withstand the elements and won’t easily scratch, scuff, or lose its shape. If you are going for a classic style Chanel bag intended for everyday use, caviar leather is a great option to go for as it holds its structure well and you won’t be worrying about the bag getting wet or scuffed all the time.

There are also different finishes that can be applied to the caviar leather, such as shiny, matte, soft, and iridescent, the latter of which you can see on this Mini My Perfect Flap Bag. The pink leather shimmers with turquoise and purple tones in the light while the interior features a pocket and has been lined with a pale pink fabric. The gold hardware is a flawless finishing touch.

2. Lambskin Leather

Chanel Lambskin Quilted Mini Top Handle Rectangular Flap in Light Pink
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Chanel Lambskin Quilted Jumbo Single Flap in Black
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This is another popular leather because of its luxurious look and supple feel. Lambskin bags have a smooth, velvety feel and shiny appearance that looks luxe and expensive, plus, lambskin takes to colored dyes very well so you will get the most vibrant color payoff.

The only downside of lambskin leather is the fact that it is quite fragile – it is one of the softest leathers so it will scratch and scuff easily. Lambskin leather is also very sensitive to water and any contact can cause a watermark on the bag that is very difficult to remove. The best way to remove small marks is to just buff with your finger or a buffing cloth in circular motions, bigger marks or deeper scratches are not so easy to remove.

With this said, lambskin does wear a lot better than you may think, and while it’s not recommended to use a lambskin bag as an everyday bag, you definitely can if you take a little extra care and precaution. After all, most seasonal Chanel bags currently only come in lambskin leather.

With years and regular use, the appearance of plush lambskin flattens, like you can see in the Black Jumbo Flap Bag featured above. Many love this elegant vintage look, but some don’t – this is another thing to consider when deciding between which Chanel leather to go for.

There is also an iridescent lambskin leather option available, which shimmers and sparkles in the light, plus, the coating makes your bag a little more resilient to scuffs.

3. Quilted Calfskin Leather

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Calfskin Quilted Top Handle Chanel Flap Bag in Turquoise Blue
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Quilted calfskin is a great leather for an everyday bag and is the material that is often used to make Chanel Boy Bags. Quilted calfskin is made from cowhide and has a soft and smooth texture, with a fine grain finish which makes it ideal for complex quilting, as is seen in the design of the Chanel Boy Bag.

Calfskin is more durable than lambskin but not as durable as caviar leather – it is a great choice if you love a smooth finish but want leather that works with daily use.

4. Aged Calfskin leather

Chanel Aged Calfskin Quilted 2.55 Reissue 226 Flap in Black
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Chanel Aged Calfskin Quilted Small Gabrielle Clutch With Chain in Beige Black
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This type of Chanel leather is an ideal choice for those of you who love a vintage look and want something a little more relaxed. Aged calfskin has a smooth, unpolished texture, but it still remains a durable leather that will stand the test of time. It is up there with caviar leather in terms of toughness and only needs a wipe with a dry cloth to remove any small marks.

If you are looking at Chanel 2.55 Reissue bags, you will see many of them are made from aged calfskin as this is the leather it was initially made in when it was redesigned by Karl Lagerfeld.

5. Glazed/Shiny Calfskin Leather

Chanel Glazed Calfskin Quilted Large Boy Flap Black
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Chanel Glazed Calfskin Quilted Medium Gold Bar Top Handle Flap Light Pink
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Calfskin leather alone is a popular choice for Chanel bags, but the glazed version is a stunning polished option that has a glamorous and luxurious look.

Due to the beautiful shiny look, you have to be careful when storing the bag, making sure to put the handles inside the bag, and don’t let the leather rub against any hard surfaces as this can cause the glazing to come off.

Over time, the glazing on the calfskin will crack, but this is a feature that many customers like because of the casual, worn aesthetic of the bag.

6. Metallic Calfskin

Rose Gold Iridescent Chanel Calfskin Quilted Medium Double Flap bag
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Chanel Iridescent Calfskin Quilted Medium Double Flap Bag in Light Pink
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The metallic calfskin from Chanel is a gorgeous option and is the perfect choice for an eye-catching evening bag.

The metallic nature of this leather means its sparkles and shimmers in the light for a glam look, while the calfskin aspect means this leather is hard-wearing. You do want to be careful with metallic calfskin bags, but any scuffs, scratches, or stains can easily be removed by buffing with the cloth that comes with the bag.

7. Patent Leather

Purple Chanel Patent Calfskin Quilted Jumbo Double Flap Bag
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Pink Chanel Metallic Patent Calfskin Quilted Small Boy Bag
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We love the glamourous, high-shine finish of patent leather, that looks incredible on any iconic Chanel bag. Patent leather dyes very well so it is ideal for brightly colored bags, or a classic black bag just to add a fun glossy finish. Patent leather holds its structure well, but it is known to stain, dent and scuff easily.

There is also sometimes color transfer so you will have to be careful if you wear a patent leather bag. Because of the reflective nature of patent leather, it will show any dents or scratches easily, also stains won’t be able to be removed so there are a few downsides to this leather.

But if you keep the bag for special occasions and store it in a dust bag, it will stay looking stunning for years to come.

8. Goatskin leather

Goatskin Quilted Medium Chanel 19 Flap Bag in Dark Blue
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Goatskin Quilted Medium Chanel 19 Flap Bag in Black
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Goatskin is a fabulous leather that has the sophisticated look of lambskin leather, but the structure and durable nature of caviar leather – incredible!

Goatskin has a matte finish for a super chic look, while the leather is tough and can withstand lots of wear and tear, making it the ideal leather for an everyday bag. The leather is soft to the touch as well, however, in some cases, the leather may slouch at the top, but the sides will stay structured. Many of the popular Chanel 19 bags are made using this leather.

9. Exotic Skins

Alligator Medium Double Flap Bag in Pink
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Chanel Alligator Jumbo Double Flap Bag in Navy Blue
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There have been a few different exotic leathers used in the creation of Chanel bags over the years, but in 2018, the luxury brand stopped creating any bags or small leather goods from exotic leather. They say they are currently looking for a more sustainable way of sourcing these materials, but it is unknown whether Chanel will ever make exotic skin bags again.

There are many exotic skin bags available on resale sites if you are still interested in this type of leather. The more common exotic leathers are python, crocodile, and alligator, while the lizard skin bags are rare and it is often only vintage Chanel bags made in this leather, while the rarest is galuchat leather, which is actually the skin of stingrays.

Other than galuchat, all exotic leathers are very delicate and should be kept away from water because they can be easily damaged – it’s best to save them for special occasions. Galuchat, on the other hand, has a sparkling finish and is very durable, but very difficult to find on the second-hand market.

Other Chanel Materials

Although leather is the most popular material for a Chanel bag, there are some fabric and other material alternatives to choose from too. If you want something different from the classic leather look, Chanel also uses lots of other stunning materials to create their striking handbags – here’s the selection you can pick from!

1. Tweed

Hot pink Chanel logo bag in tweed
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Black Chanel 19 bag in tweed
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Tweed is one of the most iconic Chanel fabrics, often used to craft the famous Chanel suit as well as handbags. Coco Chanel first used tweed in her collections in 1925 and it has been a Chanel staple ever since; this material has also been reinvented by Chanel over the years, with cotton, silks, and even cellophane woven into the tweed fabric for a tactile finish.

Each season, a new Chanel tweed is available with a particular color scheme and then often embellished with crystals or threaded with glitter. Tweed generally is pretty hardwearing and resilient, which is great, but this does vary slightly between the types of tweed.

If the tweed is more textured or features sequins or crystals, then you will have to be more careful as they are likely to snag or pull. If you do get a hole or any fringes in the tweed, it can be difficult to repair.

2. Canvas

Chanel Canvas Pearl Medium Deauville Tote Ecru Beige
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Chanel Lurex Canvas Small Deauville Tote Navy Blue Gold
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Canvas is often used in a wide range of Chanel bags, and it is a great lightweight option that is perfect for daily use. The Chanel Deauville totes are most commonly made from canvas.

The canvas bags often have a softer structure and a more relaxed look. The canvas bags are available in a wide range of colors and can also be embellished with glittering threads or sequins for an extra special finish.

Canvas is durable and it won’t scratch, scuff, or pull, so you don’t have to worry about damaging the material. However, if the canvas is light in color it can show dirt or marks easily, meaning you have to make sure to keep your canvas bag away from dirty surfaces.

A darker color canvas won’t show the marks as much, so if you are planning on wearing your canvas Chanel bag every day, it may be worth going for a black or navy shade. Some have also noted how canvas bags can be quite expensive since the canvas fabric itself is a more affordable option – this may be something to bear in mind if you are thinking of getting a canvas Chanel bag.

3. Velvet

Chanel Velvet Quilted Mini Rectangular Pearl Crush Flap bag in Navy
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Chanel blue Velvet Quilted Medium Boy Flap bag
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The velvet option from Chanel just oozes luxury and opulence, making them the perfect evening-out handbag, just like this Velvet Quilted Mini Rectangular Pearl Crush bag! Velvet is a great alternative to leather if you are looking for a lavish handbag, as velvet bags are often cheaper than leather options.

The soft and sumptuous finish on the velvet bags means you need to take extra care with them as they are one of the more delicate options. Like many fabric bags, the lighter velvet colors can mark and get dirty easily, so make sure you keep them away from dirty surfaces.

The texture of the fabric can also be rubbed away over time, so you need to ensure it sits in a dust bag with plenty of room whenever you are not using this bag. To keep your velvet looking as good as new, make sure to gently brush or roller it often to remove anything that may have attached itself to the velvet threads.

4. Jersey

Chanel Jersey Quilted Small Ocean Drive Single Flap Pink Multicolor
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Chanel Jersey Quilted Belt Bag Black
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Jersey is another great option for everyday use as it is lightweight and has a more casual aesthetic. Jersey is a softer material, therefore it will not hold structure as well over time, if you are looking for a bag with a more relaxed look, then a jersey bag is just perfect for you.

This knit material is available in a wide color range and often is available in fun prints and patterns to add a pop of color to your look. The Chanel Jersey Quilted Small Ocean Drive Single Flap bag and Chanel Jersey Quilted Belt Bag are great examples of the incredible designs on jersey bags.

Jersey bags can mark and get dirty, especially the lighter colors, so if you do get any marks on your jersey bag, do not try to wash it at home, it’s best to seek professional help to clean the handbag. Jersey also has a tendency to pill over time with heavy wear, especially the back of the bag that sits against your clothing when you are wearing it.

The pilling is hard to rectify once it begins – but it’s best to head to a professional to see if they can help you make your jersey Chanel bag looks as good as new.

5. Plexi

Chanel bag in plexiglass and patent
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Chanel Iridescent Calfskin Marble Plexiglass Boy Brick Flap in Dark Khaki
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Plexi bags are one of the rare options and have become collector’s items because of how hard they are to get hold of – both new and on the second-hand market. Plexiglass glass bags are often seen in the dazzling Chanel runway shows in striking forms.

In previous years we have seen plexiglass bags in the form of milk cartons, giant pearls, rockets, and camcorders to fit the theme of the runway show. Plexi is a very hardwearing and durable material that will age well with years of use.

Sometimes, small scratches and scuffs can affect plexi bags, but if you are careful with your bag, it will remain looking pristine! The only downside to a plexiglass bag is that it has a strong structure and therefore it can be difficult to fit items inside the bag – plexi bags are best used for evening wear when you only need a few essential items.

Some of the most popular plexi bags are the Lego brick bags which can be found on resale sites and are such a fun piece to own in your luxury bag collection. The playful forms of plexiglass bags make them attention-grabbing statement pieces that are great conversation starters.

We hope you found this article on the different Chanel leathers helpful! For more luxury fashion content, check out the links below.

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