A Guide To Hermès Leathers and Skins

Known as the creator of the most extraordinary handbags in the world, Hermes has an unrivalled and highly dedicated fan base willing to pay thousands to own one of their ultra-exclusive bags. Their most iconic style, the Birkin, is the most collectible and sought after bag in the world and is said to be a sounder investment than gold. Transcending trends and the demands of the modern luxury industry, Hermes continues to honour their traditions. Each bag is hand-made and stitched by an expert craftsman, taking upwards of 18 hours per bag – a true masterpiece.

Hermes has scrapped their waitlist system and now allocates bags based on the discretion of their sales assistants. Build a good relationship with your Hermes SA and show loyalty to the brand, you might be lucky enough to be offered a Birkin or Kelly.  Many customers wait years to be offered the exact bag they want, one of many reasons why clients trust Tailored Styling to source their dream Birkin or Kelly quickly and in the exact specifications they want.

Whether you’re a seasoned Hermes collector or you’re looking into buying your first bag, there is so much to know before making a choice. When it comes to leathers and skins there are so many to choose from, each with their pros and cons. Here’s our guide to the most requested Hermes leathers and exotic skins and how each of them differ.

TOGO

One of the most popular Hermes leathers, Togo is great for everyday use and can be restored well with a trip to the Hermes spa. It’s a grained leather with very slightly raised cells, which catch the light. This gives bags a little bit of shine to them. A durable calf leather, it’s practical for a bag suitable for regular use.

EPSOM

Epsom leather is equally as popular and is particularly lovely for bags of a structured shape due to its laminated appearance. Unlike other leathers, the grain is pressed into the leather making it tough and durable, less likely to show scratches and holds its shape very well. It’s also waterproof, making it a great option for someone who wants to use their bag everyday or for travel.

SWIFT

Formerly known as Gulliver and reintroduced in 2005 under the name Swift, this leather has a super fine grain making it smooth to the touch. Beautiful for brightly coloured bags, you often see Kelly Cuts and Kelly Pochettes crafted from swift. Given its smooth nature it can be a little more delicate, and susceptible to creasing and scratches if not handled carefully.

CLEMENCE

A beautiful, larger-grained leather, Clemence was introduced in the 80’s. Generally heavier than other leathers, it works well for slouchier styles such as the Picotin, or for someone who prefers a slouchier look for their Birkin. This leather can be delicate and does not do well in the rain.

BOX CALF

Frequently seen on vintage Kelly’s, the name Box originates from an English shoemaker from the 1890’s, Joseph Box. This leather is stiff and smooth with a very fine grain. It keeps its structure very well and has a beautiful shine. Although it can be quite susceptible to scratching, it can be restored easily by the Hermes Spa. Seen much less often in newer Hermes bags, Box leather is very popular with collectors. Box leather was used on the limited edition ‘So Black’ collection in 2011 which is now highly collectible.

CHÈVRE MYSORE

Made from goatskin, Chèvre leather is lightweight with a soft shine. Seen much less often than Togo or Epsom, Chèvre is very special and commands a higher value on the resale market.

DOBLIS SUEDE

Hermès refer to their suede leather as Doblis. This leather is extremely rare to find brand new and oftentimes has to be purchased as vintage if a buyer wants to add to their collection. Delicate as all suede is, it’s important to keep Doblis bags out of the train, not to handle with dirty or greasy fingers and to beware of scratching. The most recognizable suede Hermes style is the highly collectible Grizzly Teddy, as seen in Kylie Jenner’s wardrobe.

OSTRICH 

One of the most durable of exotic skins, Ostrich is identifiable by it’s hair follicles which appear as dots in the leather. Beautiful in bright colours and unaffected by rain it makes a great choice for an exotic bag that’s both striking and wearable.

POROSUS CROCODILE

Considered the premium Hermès leather, Porosus Crocodile is more expensive than its counter part Niloticus. Farmed in Australia, it’s identifiable by its symmetrical scale pattern. Porosus crocodile bags come in a shiny or matte finish, the latter being more expensive. Crocodile skin bags should always be kept out of the rain to avoid watermarks.

NILOTICUS CROCODILE

 

The more affordable of the two crocodile leathers Hermès offers, Niloticus skins are sourced from Africa’s Nile river region. They have a larger scale pattern than Porosus but both skins present noticeable small ‘pores’ on each scale. Niloticus also comes in shiny and matte finish, the shine is created by continuously buffing each scale.

ALLIGATOR

Alligator is also produced in both shiny and matte finishes and is farmed in Florida. Unlike Crocodile, the pattern of alligator scales is not uniform and has generally smaller scales. For this reason it’s often used on smaller bags, but can be used for Birkin and Kelly too.

LIZARD

Lizard has tiny scales with a beautiful shine and is made from the Monitor lizard of Africa. Used for bags of all sizes, lizard can be dyed in bright colours or crafted into the coveted Ombré pattern, which is considered the ‘Himalaya’ of the lizard family. Lizard bags are extremely rare.

Each leather has it's own qualities and what is right for you will depend on how you intend to use your Hermès bag, and whether you're building your collection or just starting out. Browse our selection of readily available bags here. To source a particular bag, please get in touch with us.