When you think about Hermès, the excellent craftsmanship and attention to detail comes to mind. This love for details can be seen in various ways. One such way is the leathers and fabrics used to create each Hermès item to ensure you are holding an exquisite piece of luxury in your hands.
But finding the perfect leather, exotic skin or even fabric for your Hermès bag can be difficult with so many to choose from. This guide is designed to help to make this important decision easier for you with information and tips on Hermès leathers.
Taurillon Clemence leather is also known as Veau Taurillon Clemence and one of Hermès’ most popular leathers. This leather has a more relaxed and less rigid look. It has a natural grain, is scratch-resistant and is a very durable leather.
Clemence leather is made from baby bull hide, which provides a tough resistance against tarnishing.
Hermès started using this leather type in the mid 1980’s. It has a wider and flatter grain, causing a “matte” effect and it is a slightly softer leather, which makes it one of the slouchier leathers.
Cracking on the edges can occur, but these can easily be refurbished. You should be careful with water though, as this can leave water blisters.
Togo leather was first introduced in 1997. It is made from baby calf hide and has a defined soft pebbled finish. It holds its shape well, which makes is ideal for larger bags.
Togo is one of the more scratch-resistant leathers used by Hermès. The veining on bags appears vertical and the material reflects the light well. Even though it has raised grains, it is still smooth to the touch.
Togo leather is the most popular leather for Birkin bags.
Swift leather was formerly known as Gulliver leather. It was discontinued in 1999 and reintroduced in 2005 with a new name: Swift.
It has a micro-grain and is soft to the touch. It has a semi-smooth and semi-matte appearance.
Swift leather requires extra care as it is prone to scratching. However, smaller scratches can be rubbed away gently with just your finger. Swift leather absorbs dye very well, bringing brighter colors to life. It appears to reflect the light in such a way that the colors are almost iridescent.
Courchevel was discontinued for bags in 1999, but used in accessories until 2003. It is an embossed leather with a very even grain throughout.
Courchevel is slightly shiny and darker on the top part of the grain.
This leather is a lightweight and scratch resistant leather that is easy to clean.
Epsom leather was released in 2003 and the pattern is pressed into the leather. For that reason it has a slightly laminated look.
Epsom is a rigid leather that maintains the shape of the bag well and is also scratch-resistant.
It is also a lightweight leather that is easy to clean and more durable when coming into contact with rain.
Epsom is one the most popular materials used by Hermès. It replaced Courchevel leather.
Vachette Grainee des Ardennes
Ardennes leather is processed and pressed with thick grains. It is crafted from a male calf raised in the Ardennes region (North France to South Belgium).
It is very sturdy, holds its shape well and has a slight sheen. It doesn’t slouch or flop and is quite thick. It is a water and scratch resistant leather, but doesn’t feel soft. The grains are slightly raised and this leather is considered to be the “work horse” which can withstand the test of time.
The dye on this leather is prone to fading. It is a very hard to find leather, as it is no longer in production. Vache Liegee replaced Ardennes leather.
The name of this leather originates from an English shoe craftsman in the 1980’s, Joseph Box.
Box calfskin has the smoothest finish of the Hermès leathers. It is very shiny and has a visible fine grain. This material has a more rigid structure than grainy leathers, which makes it a strong, durable leather. Over time this leather develops a glossy, mirror-like patina, a soft sheen on the surface of the leather.
It is a leather that needs a little extra care, as it can scratch easily and you have to be careful in wet weather, as water can leave water blisters.
Box calfskin is one of the oldest types of leather used by Hermès and can frequently be found on Vintage Kellys.
This is bull leather that was released in 2001. The material is not processed like Box calfskin.
It's a matte leather and slightly smooth to the touch. It's mainly used for bags, such as the Herbag.
Vache Natural is a classic Hermès leather and shows up in vintage pieces over 50 years old.
It is a smooth, untreated and very delicate cowhide which develops a patina over time. The material matures through use, which means a change in color and texture will appear.
Vache Natural will appear very light when it is new.
Its smooth finish makes it the softest to the touch amongst all Hermès leathers.
Vache Trekking leather was released in 2009. It is made from processed male calf hide and noted for its firmness and fine pressed grain. This leather is mainly used in the Garden Party bags and only available in a limited number of colors due ti the nature of its grain. It is extremely rare to find on other Hermès bags.
Vache Hunter leather is a cowhide leather primarily used as a trim in Hermès bags, such as Etriviere and Herbag.
It is a very stiff leather, that is prone to scratches and commonly has a rough, unfinished underside.
Introduced in 2004, this natural grained hide has a light sheen and luster. To process this leather, it is supposedly stretched in 8 different directions. The leather has a two-tone effect on the grain and is a stiff, durable material.
Graine leather is processed male calf leather, which is known for its thin press and matte texture. Since this leather is discontinued, Epsom leather is its successor.
It was only developed in the colors White and Natural.
Chamonix is made of male calf hide, which comes from a resort area in the French Alps called Chamonix, hence the name.
It is a variation of the smooth calf leathers, very similar to Box calfskin, but has a matte finish, not a shiny one.
Chamonix is frequently combined with white top stitching and doesn’t scratch easily. If you do find scratches, there are easily buffed out.
This leather is not water resistant and water will leave marks that won’t fade.
This is the soft, smooth and matte version of the Box calfskin. It has a velvety finish with no visible grain. It is also not prone to scuffs or scratches.
Evercalf has a slight sheen and is very soft to touch.
Evergrain is a stiff leather with a fine grain, but it still maintains a soft and luxurious feel. It is a smooth leather and the embossed version of Evercalf leather.
This leather is prone to scratches, which can easily be buffed out. The color version is called Evercolor.
Evercolor is a firm leather with a matte appearance. It is commonly used in small leather goods. It was released in 2013.
This processed female calf leather was released in 2007. It is famed for its firmness and a relatively new addition to the Hermès leather collection. It is mainly used for the Garden Party lineup. It offers a strong protection against everyday wear. Its unique pattern is its large grain size.
Veau Grain d’H
This leather was released in 2012 and is a stamped, processed leather from a male calf. Its most recognized feature is the signature H monogram due to the cross-hatch embossing. The small grain size provides a soft, yet textured feel. It has a finely structured pressed appearance, a sheen and does not scratch easily.
Grain d’H is used in a wide range of bags and wallets.
Veau Grain Lisse
Veau Grain Lisse, or sometimes referred to as “VGL”, was discontinued in 2003. It is a glass processed leather, slightly thin with a luster.
VGL is scratch resistant, lightweight and has a light shine to it. It has less angular and more rounded grains. It is a rigid leather that holds its shape fairly well.
This leather is described as buttery and soft. It has little to no grain thus giving it an ultra soft feel. It tends to not hold its shape and gets slouchy very easily.
Sikkim leather is used in the “Relax” version of the Bolide and Kelly bags and can also be found in the Double Sets totes.
Sombrero leather was released in 2013 and is a delicate calf leather. It has a matte finish and a soft, skin-like texture. It is prone to scratching, but known for its firmness.
It is sometimes used in rigid handbags, such as Kelly Seller or Constance.
Tadelakt, also called Veau Tadelakt, is a smooth calfskin leather and semi shiny, as well as much softer than Box calfskin. It is commonly used in leather jewelry and small leather goods. It appears to be a cross between Box calfskin and Swift leather, but is is softer than Box calf and shinier than Swift.
Tadelakt has no visible grains on the outside which gives this leather an utterly smooth appearance, but also makes it prone to scratching.
Taurillon Novillo was introduced in 2015. It is a lightweight leather, but more rigid than Clemence and Togo leather. This leather absorbs color beautifully, which makes it the perfect for bright colored handbags.
Taurillon Cristobal leather is mostly found in small leather goods for men and men’s handbags. It is soft to the touch and has visible grains.
Negonda was released in 2007 and is crafted out of adult bull hide. It has a large grain, a medium hardness and is mainly used in Garden Party bags. It is a matte type of leather, completely resistant to water and has a dry feeling to the touch. It is ideal for bags that are heavily used.
Barenia is the original saddle leather. It goes through a specific tanning process in chrome and vegetable dyes. Then it is soaked in a mix of nine different oils over a five to six weeks process.
Barenia is a very delicate leather, which is prone to scratching. It is one of the softer leathers and bags made with this will loose shape after a while. It has a buttery smooth, matte finish, that wears very well over time.
This leather is frequently combined with white top stitching and commonly distinguished by a natural “Hermès” stamp.
Over time, Barenia leather will develop a patina and can absorb oil, giving it a beautiful natural shade.
It can also come in other colors other than Natural - such as Black, Vert Olive and Indigo.
Barenia Faubourg leather was released in 2017 and is named after the iconic Paris boutique Rue de Faubourg Saint-Honoré. This leather has a small grain, making it resistant to scratches and blemishes.
Fjord leather is made from an adult bull hide and more durable than Togo or Clemence leather. It is a matte, anti-scratch and waterproof leather.
It is one of the heavier leathers Hermès uses and has a very visible grain, which is wider and flatter than Togo or Clemence. From a distance it looks like this leather has vertical veins, but the amount of veining can vary based on the skin. Sometimes there is no veining at all.
Derma leather was released in 2004. It is made from male calf hide and processed until it is incredibly smooth. It is known for its softness to the touch and smooth, matte texture. Although this material is really delicate, it can be crafted into almost any shape once it is processed.
Butler leather was released in 2013 and is a natural, untreated leather. It shows scratches easily, but they can be buffed out. It is rare and hard-to-find, compared to the Barenia leather. Butler is one of the leathers that develop a patina over time.
Veau Rodeo, or simply called Rodeo, has unique veining. It is 100% resistant to scratches and often used in accessories that are worn often, e.g. wallets.
Veau Miroir is a bull calf leather. It is a glossy material like lame, and it has a distinctive texture with a pearl-like appearance.
Miroir is a material that is mainly used with small items such as card cases.
Doblis is extremely popular, because Hermès doesn’t use it often and it is a highly luxurious material.
Doblis is a soft, velvety leather that needs more care from scratching, water and dirt. Due to its soft nature, the material may start to slouch over time and is not a leather made for heavy use.
Grizzly is a raw calf hide, also known as suede outside of Hermès. It has a velvet finish. It should be kept away from water, but small scratches can be buffed out.
Troika leather is rare to find and only used in very few Hermès bags worldwide. It is made from male calf hide and also known as unborn calf leather that has yet to be processed and dyed. Troika leather is covered in calf hair. It has a smooth texture and is full of luster.
This leather is also known as Nubuck and crafted from a male calf rawhide. It features a coat on the surface and the leather is trimmed to a velvet finish.
Velvet leather is generally used for accessories, but can be found on a select few handbags.
Vibrato is often confused with fabric, but is actually stacked leather. It is created by layering and then applying pressure to strips of leather and suede leather.
Vibrato creates a textile that looks like cross-sections of stacked leather. It is difficult to maintain, but durable and scratch resistant.
It is very rare and considered more expensive than other leathers. When you buy it new, it often comes with an “eraser” to refurbish the leather.
Vibrato bags are hard to find, because they are highly sought-after. This leather showcases the capabilities of the highly trained Hermès craftsmanship.
Vibrato Snip takes the Vibrato leather one step further. It uses stacked leather, but it is cut into sections of 3-4cm and then put together again. This technique requires an even higher skill than the Vibrato leather.
Unfortunately, it is not in production anymore.
It is a material that has a waffle-like pattern on the surface, which is made by sandwiching the wire in the Evercalf leather. It has a dull and softness to it. It is characterized by an uneven touch, and is mainly developed for the Kelly bag.
Chèvre is a goat hide that is extremely resilient against scratches. It is lightweight, shiny and rigid. Hermès bags in this leather are ideal for regular use. It is more expensive than calf leather and bags entirely made of Chèvre are rare.
The lining in Hermès bags is made from Marocain (Marrocan) Chèvre.
There are three varieties of Chèvre leather used by Hermès - Chèvre Chagrain, Chèvre Mysore and Chèvre de Coromandel.
Chèvre de Coromandel/Souple
Chèvre de Coromandel is a goat hide that shares a loft of characteristics with Chèvre Mysore. It has a visible spine down the center. Coromandel is a lightweight leather, soft and scratch resistant. This leather is suitable for heavy use.
As of Spring 2008, Chèvre de Coromandel is released as “Souple” with a less visible spine and much more pliable.
This leather is said to combine luxury and practicality.
Chèvre Mysore was introduced in 2002. It is also made of goat hide, but doesn’t have a visible spine down the center. Chèvre Mysore has a more defined grain than Chèvre de Coromandel and features a pronounced sheen which reflects light very well.
Chèvre Chagrin or Sully leather is processed through a 100-year-old vegetable tanning process. The use of this way of tanning brings out the rich texture of the leather and also ensures that the leather will produce a nice-looking patina over time.
The characteristic of this water buffalo hide is that it absorbs dark dye in the center of the grain. It is known for its softness, rough grain size and is a water resistant leather.
Buffalo leather is currently used in conjunction of bags that are mostly made of fabric or the Garden Party line.
Buffalo Dalmatian was discontinued by Hermès. It has a peculiar, veiny appearance and is dyed twice. The pigments of the dye gather in the center of the grain giving this leather its unique and spotted look, a feature it shares with the Buffalo Skipper leather.
Dalmatian is a scratch and water resistant material. It is also flexible and durable with a raised, medium-sized texture.
This soft leather is made from Water Buffalo hide and has a medium sized grained appearance. When dyed this leather absorbs the chemicals closer to the center of the grain which gives the leather its classic spotted appearance.
It is an ideal leather for heavily used bags, because it is water resistant and scratches can easily be buffed out.
Buffalo Sindhu was released in 2007 and is also crafted from water buffalo hide. It features a unique grain size and coloring. There is also a variance in the leather which makes it a distinct and unique hide to work with. Buffalo hide is ideal for heavy use and very resistant to scratches.
It is only used in the Garden Party line.
Buffalo Gala is a soft leather that is only used in smaller leather goods. It is recognizable due to its sophisticated grain which can seem to glisten under direct light.
Buffalo Pondichery is a buffalo leather that is farmed in the east coast area, south of India and was released in 2009. It is mainly used for accessories.
It is a fine grained leather and has a moderate softness. This leather is processed, because it is an originally hard material.
Alligator Matte and Shiny (Lisse)
Alligator leather comes from the Mississippi Alligator farmed in Florida.
The characteristic in this skin is an umbilical scar, which is an elongated irregular shape with a webbing pattern in it. This feature is often placed prominently on products to show its authenticity.
The patterning is not uniform, but has small rectangular scales in the middle and smaller, oval-shaped scales down the sides.
It has been dyed in a variety of colors, but it is rare and usually only found in limited editions and special orders. The symbol used by Hermès for this skin a square "□".
Crocodile Niloticus Matte and Shiny (Lisse)
Crocodile Niloticus is made from crocodiles from Africa’s Nile river region in Zimbabwe. Water should be kept away from this leather, as it would leave a permanent mark.
It has a larger scale than Porosus. Nile Crocodile skins have small “pores” that look like small dimples in each scale. These are actually sensory pores that a Crocodile has all over his body.
The shiny effect comes from continuous buffing until the skin shows its gloss. The Hermès symbol for this skin is “..".
Crocodile Porosus Matte and Shiny (Lisse)
Crocodile Porosus skin is farmed in Australia and South East Asia, like Singapore. It is considered by many as the premier Hermès leather, because of its fine symmetrical scale pattern. The shiny version is achieved by constantly buffing out the skin with a stone until it shines.
Hermès uses "^" to indicate that a bag is made of Porosus Croc.
Varanus Salvator Water Monitor Lizard
Salvator Lizard leather is made from the Water Monitor lizard. Because of the size of the hide, it is mostly used in Birkin 25, smaller bags and small leather goods. The smaller scales give the leather a shine or iridescence.
The Hermès symbol for this skin is an equal sign “=“.
Varanus Niloticus Water Monitor Lizard
Nile Lizard leather is made from the Monitor Lizard native to Africa’s Nile River. It has small scales, a shiny appearance, a grainy feel to the touch and is extremely delicate. This skin needs protection from water and tarnishing. It also has a tendency to dry out. The Hermès symbol for this skin is a “-“.
This exotic skin was released with the 2007 Fall/Winter collection and became a favorite among Hermès lovers. It is an extremely valuable and rare skin. It is processed as little as possible to maintain its natural texture.
Natural lizard can be more often found in bags made with a combination of Lizard leather and other exotic skin due to its rarity.
This hide comes from the Struthio Camellus Ostrich and is farmed in South Africa.
This dynamic leather will darken with the contact of your skin and will lighten with light exposure, both sun and lamp light.
Ostrich leather is known for its distinctive “polka dotted” look, caused by the plucking of the quills.
It is a very delicate and rare leather, but is one leather that can be wiped down with a dry cloth when it gets wet.
This leather uses Emu hide, a bird similar to the Ostrich, but smaller. It is sometimes used as a substitute when the Ostrich hide is not available. Because of its smaller size it also has smaller quill marks than Ostrich. However, the production is decreasing due to less demand and other factors.
This leather is made from pork skin. It is very lightweight and the pores appear as small dots on the leather. This skin is normally a caramel color and develops a patina over time.
Although it is one Hermès classic leathers, it is no longer in use, due to the controversy surrounding using pork leather.
Milo is a lambskin leather, used for small Hermès leather goods, such as Rodeo charms.
Hermès linen are usually woven in herringbone or chevron pattern with two color threads. This material is used in dustbags and lining of certain bags.
This kind of linen is usually used in conjunction with a leather on Hermès bags. The weave is similar in strength and appearance to fire hose material. It is most commonly used in Garden Party bags.
Toile GM has a larger and rougher weave than regular Hermès Toile canvas. It is one of Hermès’ more durable materials. The GM stands for Grand Modèle.
Toile H Canvas
Toile H Canvas is made by combining two different colored threads to form an “H”. It is usually combined with other leathers. It is one Hermès most durable materials and fairly easy to clean for an expert. Please don’t try to clean it yourself.
Toile Officier is a cotton canvas that uses a thin thread of a single color. It is most commonly seen in the Garden Party and Herbag lines.
Toile Jean is a denim canvas that is casual and quite durable.
Toile Chevron is a cotton canvas, woven in the shape of chevrons. It is made with two threads, one is dyed and the other left natural. It is a flexible and durable material.
Toile So H
Toile So H is a special and eye-catching material, made of a combination of canvas and wool. They are woven together in order to create an “H” design. This material is only used in Garden party handbags. It is light and durable.
Toile Riga is a canvas material that has distinctive stripes. It is developed with bags such as Birkin mainly along with leather.
Toile Potamos is a cotton canvas material that features flowing lines that remind of a river. It was only released in 2006. Because of its light and strong nature, it is made for bags, such as Birkin and combined with leather.
Toile Jibeshieru is a canvas material using thin thread. This material is mainly developed for Garden bags and bags used daily such as Evelyn. It is only made in moss green (khaki).
Toile Casque is a cotton canvas material featuring bright colored striped lines and was released in 2008. The patterns used are yellow with black stripes, red with blue stripes and red beige or beige with black stripes.
When it is used in the Birkin line, i.e. the Birkin 30 is designed with three stripes. The Birkin 35 adds one half stripe at the end. The stripes vary in number depending on size of the bag.
Canvas is a heavy weight cloth and usually combined with other leathers. It is commonly used in the Herbag line and a durable cloth that is among the easiest to clean.
Crinoline is made from horse and hemp. It is used in conjunction with other leathers and a durable, sturdy material. It is a great material for bags that have to hold their shape, e.g. Jige clutches.
Feutre is a soft and warm wool material which is commonly used in smaller accessories.
Lainage was released in 2006. It is a wool material with a plaid print. Lainage was exclusively used in the Fall Paris collection and is no longer being used.
This is a highly coveted material. It is used in coats and other winter accessories. Hermès bags featuring Shearing are hard to find and for example there are only a handful Kelly Retourne Shearing bags.
Amazonia is actually a rubber-coated canvas and is 100% water resistant, but prone to scratches. It is no longer in production.
Wicker is the method of weaving a flexible branch or twigging to a basket, or in Hermès’ case bags. For this technique Hermès uses a material called Osier, which is a kind of willow, growing in wet places in Europe and Asia. These willows are the best for basket work.
The material is characterized by a rough texture and has been used in summer items such as the Kelly Picnic, but it is not used anymore.
Nylon canvas material is used mainly in the Herbag line. It is popular with both men and women as it is a durable and easy-to-use material. It also tends to be resistant to dirt and moisture, so even on rainy days bags made from Nylon canvas can easily be carried outside.
Unlike Crinolin, which uses hemp yarn, this material weaves only the horse's tail hair. Distinctive shades are characteristic for this material. It is made for purse-type bags, as well as the Birkin and Boledo line.
This wool material was introduced in 2000 and is made in brown, orange, red and warm colors. It is also a material that is prone to scratching, so it needs a little more care.
The material is sometimes used in bags such as the Garden Party line.
Hermès sometimes uses unique and even rarer materials for bags, even rarer than their better known exotic leathers. Of these bags only a few exemplars exist, sometimes only one. Known materials used for these extraordinary bags are: snake skin, elephant hide, chocolate or feathers.