If you have ever thought about buying a Hermès bag, you may have wondered what the differences between the types of leathers are – well, we’ve got all answers in this Hermès leathers article.
The luxury fashion house Hermès creates stunning ready-to-wear collections, shoes, and accessories, but they are best known for incredible handbags and small leather goods. Hermès has been creating leather goods since 1837 when they produced leather equestrian gear for wealthy members of European society.
Bags were added to the collection at the beginning of the 20th century, and since then, they have become some of the most famous handbags in the world. The Birkin bag and the Kelly bag, in particular, are some of the most highly desired handbags because of their sophisticated design and exclusivity – you have to have an established relationship with the brand in order to buy one new!
If you have thought about buying any Hermès leather goods you may have wondered about the different types of leathers and what the differences are. This Hermès leathers article is going to give you all the details you need to know about the Hermès leathers the brand offers, how they are different, their durability, and the look of each one to help you decide which one is best for you.
The Most Popular Hermès Leathers
There are many different types of Hermès leather as this French brand has been creating leather goods for well over a hundred years.
We’re first going to take a look at the 10 most popular leathers for Hermès bags, before exploring the more exotic leathers that are much rarer but also more expensive. It is also worth bearing in mind that each type of leather reacts to the dyes in different ways so a standard black dye is going to look different on each type of leather.
This article will list the 10 most sought-after leathers in order of popularity, before diving into the exotic skins.
1. Epsom leather
Epsom leather was first introduced in 2004 and came in to replace the Courchevel leather, which was discontinued in this same year. Epsom has a man-made heat-pressed cross-hatched fine grain with a slightly laminated look and a slight sheen.
This heat-pressed grain means the leather is quite water resistant and more durable – it does not scratch easily. Epsom leather also takes to colored dyes very well, so every color has a vibrant finish. This leather has a rigid structure, so it holds the shape of any handbag very well.
The laminated finish also means Epsom leather is easy to clean; just wipe your bag with a damp cloth! Epsom leather is a popular choice for Kelly bags in particular.
2. Togo leather
Togo leather is the most popular Hermès leather for Birkins. This leather, made from calfskin, has a fine natural pebbled grain surface, that still feels quite smooth to the touch, with visible veining and a matte finish.
Togo leather is lightweight but still holds its shape well – making it perfect for a Birkin or Kelly bag where you want the leather to keep the stunning structure, but don’t want the look to be quite as structured as with the Epsom leather. The graining on the leather means it is less likely to show any scratches and any spots can be removed with a damp cloth.
Any larger marks or scuffs can often be removed with professional refurbishment. If you are looking for luxurious feeling leather that is pretty durable, then Togo leather is the perfect choice for you.
3. swift leather
Swift leather is also a common leather that Hermes often uses – if you love a smooth finish, this leather is perfect for you as it has a micro grain and soft feel. The Swift leather was introduced in 2005 as the replacement for the Gulliver leather which was discontinued in 1999.
The micro-grain means the leather has a slight sheen to it, glistening beautifully in the sunlight. It also absorbs dyes well, so if you are looking for a brightly colored Hermes bag, swift leather is a great choice.
However, this type of leather is not as durable as other options, which means it can be prone to scratches – so if you do get a swift leather bag, you have to be extra careful. Small scratches can sometimes be rubbed away with your finger, but this does not work on larger marks.
4. Taurillon Clemence leather
The Taurillon Clemence leather, often known as just Clemence leather, is made from a baby bull and began to be used in Hermès leather goods in the 1980s. This leather is still so popular today, with its wider and flatter grain, and slightly softer finish.
The wider grains on the leather may mean that over time it can crack around the edges, but with refurbishment and reconditioning, the leather will look as good as new. The soft texture and heavy feel mean it has a slightly slouchier look, which some customers love, and makes it the perfect leather for the soft silhouette of the Evelyne bags. This leather can blister when in contact with water, so you do have to be careful in the rain.
The Taurillon Clemence is often compared to the Togo leather, because of the graining and matte finishes, but the Taurillon Clemence does not have the same veining as the Togo leather.
5. Box Leather
Box calf leather is a type of leather with a smooth finish and a glossy look – so luxurious! This leather does have a very fine grain and is often described as ‘boardy’ as it is stiff and holds a structure well. Over time, this box calf leather develops a lovely patina, which makes your bag completely unique to just you.
As a downside, box calf leather is not so durable – it is very susceptible to water marks and can blister if it comes in contact with water, so you can’t get caught in the rain when carrying this bag!
Minor scratches can sometimes be buffed out, but over time and the patina this leather develops, it all kind of blends together to give a unique, vintage feel to the bag. Professional reconditioning will help to remove any larger scuffs or marks and keep your bag looking gorgeous!
6. Chèvre Mysore Leather
Chèvre Mysore Leather is a beautiful goatskin leather with a slightly glossy finish. It’s often seen as a more refined version of the Chèvre de Coromandel leather (below), with a larger grain but still with a soft feel and lightweight finish.
As with many goat leathers, the Chèvre Mysore Leather is very hardwearing and durable, perfect if you are worried about your Hermès bag getting marked. If you like leather with a more visible grained and textured look, then Chèvre Mysore is right for you, with its stunning look and scratch-resistant finish.
7. Chèvre de Coromandel leather
The Chèvre de Coromandel leather is made from male mountain goats, making it much more durable and resilient than other types of leather. This leather has a slight graining and an iridescent finish, as well as being lightweight and soft to touch. It may feel delicate but it is very tough and almost impervious to scratches and scuffs – perfect for everyday wear!
This strong, long-lasting leather will really stand the test of time, but it is a little more expensive than other types of leather that are available.
8. Evercolor leather
Evercolor leather is a type of leather that has been introduced by Hermès in recent years. This leather is pressed and has a tight, visible grain, with satin-like sheen and a soft touch feel. The Evercolor is one of the more durable leathers, but you still have to be careful when near water, because this leather can mark if it gets very wet.
The Evercolor was first used to create small leather goods but is now often used to craft Kelly, Lindy, or Constance handbags.
9. Barenia leather
The Barenia leather is the oldest type of Hermès leather available and is the one that was used when the Hermès brand first began creating saddles and equestrian accessories in the 19th century. This leather was used for saddles because of its durable finish, which now makes this leather perfect for everyday use handbags.
The Barenia leather has a luxuriously smooth exterior with a glossy finish which looks incredible. The durable nature of this leather comes from the fact that it absorbs oils so it is completely resistant to scratches and does not instantly mark when the leather gets wet.
However, because it does absorb these oils, the Barenia leather does develop a patina over time – making your bag unique to just you. Barenia leather is still available now but can be hard to get a hold of, but just have a look on resale sites and you may be lucky to find a Barenia leather handbag.
10. Tadelakt leather
The Tadelakt leather is one of the more uncommon types of leather, but it has proved very popular thanks to the smooth, luxurious-looking texture. The Tadelakt leather is often confused with Box leather because of its many similarities, such as the smooth, soft and glossy finish.
However, the main difference between Tadelakt leather and Box calf leather is that there are no visible grains on the Tadelakt leather, so it has a lovely silky, buttery soft feel – just gorgeous! The lack of grain also means it dyes very well, so any bags made from Tadelakt leather will have a vibrant finish.
Just like box calf leather, you have to be careful as Tadelakt is not very durable and can be prone to scuff and scratches, as well as blistering when coming into contact with water – which can cause permanent damage.
Hermès also often make use of exotic skins in the production of some of their handbags and leather goods. Kelly, Birkin, and Constance bags can be more commonly found in exotic leathers than other styles of Hermès bags.
There are also some exotic skins that are no longer used by Hermès, although you can find vintage editions of these bags on resale sites such as Vestaire Collective and Fashionphile. Caiman crocodile skin is one example of leather that is no longer used, but vintage bags can be found.
1. Crocodile Niloticus
Crocodile Niloticus is one of the more popular exotic leathers used by Hermès and again comes in two different finishes – shiny and matte.
Crocodile skin is different from Alligator skin, as crocodile skin has larger scales and little dots or pores between the scales. This leather comes from Nile crocodiles, which have large scales for an attention-grabbing look which is very popular in the fashion industry.
The shiny finish is achieved by buffing the crocodile skin until it develops a glossy shine which looks just stunning. Both finishes need to be kept away from water, as they are delicate and can easily be damaged and left with water marks.
2. Crocodile Porosus
The Crocodile Porosus leather is the most expensive and rarest skin offered by Hermès. This type of crocodile skin is sourced from Asia or Australia and is again available in a shiny or matte texture.
This is a striking, vibrant leather that has a lovely glossy sheen in the shiny texture that really sparkles in the sunlight. The Crocodile Porosus leather is again very delicate so you have to be careful it does not get wet or caught in the rain, as water can cause permanent damage.
Finally, there is ostrich skin – which looks absolutely stunning and is available in a wide range of classic Hermès colors. Ostrich is one of the more durable exotic skins. However, with this said, you still have to be careful with your ostrich skin bag.
It can darken and soften from coming into regular contact with oils and sweat from your hands, but it will also lighten in sunlight or light from lamps, so over time, this skin will really come to reflect you and how you use this bag. Also, it’s best to keep it away from water to keep the luxurious ostrich skin looking as good as new!
All Hermès ostrich skins come from South Africa and can be identified by the dotted pattern that covers the skin. Unlike other exotic skins, this leather only comes in a matte finish, but can be dyed in different colors. Ostrich skin is rigid, holding its shape well.
Firstly, we have the Alligator skin. This is a very desirable leather and can be found in both matte and shiny finishes – this shiny finish is often known as ‘lisse’. Alligator is a very delicate skin and is more often used in the creation of smaller handbags.
Alligator has a similar look to a crocodile but is a little less expensive. Alligator skin takes well to colored dyes so you can get bright colored Alligator leather bags for an eye-catching finish.
5. Lizard Niloticus
There are two different lizard skins available from Hermès; first is the Lizard Niloticus, which originates from the Nile river and is the more common of the two.
This lizard skin is available in matte and lisse, but even the matte edition has a slight shine to it. Only small leather goods and small handbags are made from this type of lizard skin.
6. lizard Salvator
The second type of lizard skin is the lizard Salvator, which comes from southeast Asia. It is most recognizable in its ‘ombre’ finish which looks just incredible.
This lizard skin is dyed in a symmetrical pattern that reflects the natural riglet pattern on this delicate leather. Again, this type of leather is only used to make small leather goods.
Other Hermès Leathers
This article has focused looking at the most popular Hermès leathers used for both Birkins and Kellies, but they are by no means the only leathers used.
There are multiple other types of leather with slight variations to them, such as the grainy, rigid and embossed Monsieur leather and the delicate Doblis/Suede leather. While many leathers such as the durable calfskin Ardennes leather have been discontinued as the brand continues to evolve, the most popular leathers continue to be used for multiple products in the brand.
We hope you loved this article all about Hermès leathers! For more luxury fashion content, check out the links below.