So you want to dive into the world of Hermes? That’s exciting! If you’re looking to get your hands on Birkin or other Hermes bags, let me guide you through the process of choosing the right leather.
Here are the 11 most commonly used types of leather for Hermes bags:
The production of Togo leather started in 1997 and is made from the neck of young calves, which makes it relatively stiff and helps it maintain its shape. The leather undergoes an intensive drumming process, allowing the natural grain patterns to emerge beautifully, giving it a distinctive texture. It also has larger grains compared to other leathers.
Togo leather has a thick and sturdy feel, giving a sense of solidity and structure. At the same time, it feels soft and supple to the touch without compromising its strength.
Identifying features: Large grains and a soft texture.
Advantages: It’s less prone to scratches, easy to clean, and has a soft touch.
Disadvantages: It’s a commonly used leather, so it may lack uniqueness. Also, it’s slightly heavy in weight.
Notable Bag Styles: Kelly, Hac, Birkin
Barenia Faubourg leather has a slightly heavier and unique leather scent compared to Togo leather. It is highly regarded as one of Hermes’ most intricate leather types to process. To create Barenia Faubourg leather, a pure natural vegetable tanning process is used, along with coloring techniques that don’t involve the use of dyes. This results in the leather retaining its original and primitive color, which is a light brown shade.
Barenia Faubourg leather is well-known for its resistance to water and creases. With use, the leather undergoes oxidation, which gradually deepens its color and develops a beautiful patina. Despite this natural aging process, the leather surface remains smooth, and the bag maintains its overall shape.
Identifying features: It maintains a delightful leather scent that lingers over time.
Advantages: Resistance to water and creases.
Disadvantages: Not resistant to oil.
Notable Bag Styles: Birkin, Kelly, Constance, Evelyne, Picotin
Barenia leather is a type of uncolored calf leather and is processed using vegetable tanning methods. It involves extracting tannic acid solution from various parts of plants such as bark, wood, and roots to preserve the leather.
When making a Birkin bag with Barenia leather, Hermes needs to select three pieces of leather that have the same grain, texture, and dyeing intensity. But here’s the catch, they mostly only use the middle part, which means a lot of leather goes to waste.
The leather is both delicate and easy to care for. As time goes by, the leather gradually develops a natural sheen.
Identifying features: Fine and warm texture.
Advantages: High water resistance. It has the ability to repair minor scratches and blemishes on its surface, making it resilient and long-lasting.
Disadvantages: Not resistant to oil and creases.
Notable Bag Styles: Kelly, Constance, Evelyne
Epsom leather, introduced in 2004 as a replacement for Courchevel leather, has gained significant popularity for its distinctive features. It is a heat-pressed leather with a rigid, finely cross-hatched grain and an attractive sheen. One of its standout qualities is its ability to showcase colors with exceptional vibrancy compared to other leathers.
A Hermes bag crafted from Epsom leather maintains its shape beautifully over time. The embossed surface adds a waterproof element, making it resistant to showing scratches. Additionally, Epsom leather is lightweight and easy to clean.
Identifying features: Delicate small grains and a firm texture.
Advantages: It’s scratch-resistant, maintains its shape well, and easy to clean.
Disadvantages: Due to the artificial processing, it may lose the natural texture of the leather.
Notable Bag Styles: Kelly, Constance, Birkin
Originally known as Gulliver leather, this exquisite Hermes leather was discontinued in 1999 but made a comeback in 2005 with a new name: Swift leather.
Swift leather boasts a supple and soft texture with a fine natural grain. It possesses a subtle sheen and has the remarkable ability to absorb colors beautifully, making it a dream choice for avid Hermes color enthusiasts. It’s worth noting that Swift Leather is prone to scratches, but the good news is that minor scratches can be easily removed with a gentle swipe of your fingers.
With its combination of softness, fine grain, and stunning color absorption, Swift Leather continues to enchant Hermes admirers. Its only minor drawback of being susceptible to scratches is outweighed by its overall elegance and the ease of maintaining its pristine appearance.
Identifying features: Has a semi-matte finish that reflects a subtle luster.
Advantages: Lighter in weight and boasts vibrant colors.
Disadvantages: Prone to deformation and if it gets stained, it’s difficult to repair.
Notable Bag Styles: Roulis, Kelly, Lindy
Evercolor leather is a type of calfskin leather derived from young calves, known for striking a perfect balance in terms of its hardness. It offers a blend of characteristics found in both Epsom and Togo leathers. It is softer than Epsom leather but slightly firmer than Togo leather. Additionally, this leather is particularly suitable for vibrant and bright-colored bags due to its high color saturation.
Commonly used in small leather goods, Evercolor leather ages gracefully, becoming softer, more supple, and developing a beautiful shine over time. Nevertheless, this leather is prone to deformation.
At first glance, some may find it hard to distinguish between Swift leather and Evercolor leather. But with a closer look, you will notice that the grain pattern of Evercolor is more apparent, while Swift leather tends to have a less noticeable grain pattern.
Identifying features: Delicate and soft texture.
Advantages: Durable and abrasion-resistant.
Disadvantages: Prone to deformation.
Notable Bag Styles: Roulis, Lindy, Constance
Box Calf leather, also known as Veau Leather, holds a special place in Hermes as it is the oldest leather used in handbags. It boasts a smooth and glossy surface that exudes elegance. Over time, Box Calf develops a stunning patina, adding to its allure.
While Hermes Box Calf leather is renowned for its durability, it does have a delicate surface that is susceptible to scuffs and scratches. However, one of the remarkable features of this leather is that these marks can be blended into the leather’s texture over time through light buffing. And Box Calf leather should be kept away from rainy weather, as water can cause blistering and leave unsightly marks.
Identifying features: Shiny and smooth surface.
Advantages: It has a beautiful glossy appearance and is relatively lightweight.
Disadvantages: It’s prone to scratches and should be kept away from water.
Notable Bag Styles: Birkin, Constance, Kelly
Fjord leather is crafted from the hides of mature bulls and is highly recognized for its exceptional durability and relatively heavier weight. This type of leather possesses a mature and refined appearance, emanating an air of elegance. One of its notable features is its resistance to water, enhancing both its practicality and luxurious appeal.
Although Fjord leather may be slightly heavier compared to alternative options, its resilience, ability to withstand water, and overall sophisticated look make it a sought-after choice for individuals seeking a more mature and polished aesthetic.
Identifying features: Smooth surface with large grains.
Advantages: It’s water-resistant and has a deep, rich appearance.
Disadvantages: It can be heavy in weight. Not suitable for making large bags.
Notable Bag Styles: Birkin, Kelly, Jige
Clemence leather, also known as Veau Taurillon Clemence or TC, is one of Hermes’s most popular leathers and has been a classic material since the 1980s. It is crafted from the hides of baby bulls, giving it a soft, heavy, and matte appearance. This unique texture adds a casual and relaxed look to otherwise structured bags.
It has a slightly slouchy and comfortable feel. Compared to Togo leather, another natural leather used by Hermes, Clemence leather is smoother to the touch, has slightly larger grains, and lacks veining.
One of the notable characteristics of Clemence leather is its durability, making it a reliable choice for daily use. However, it’s important to be cautious when exposing Clemence leather to rain, as it may develop blisters when wet.
Identifying features: The leather’s surface is semi-matte with a pebbled-grained texture.
Advantages: It is resistant to scratches and tarnishing.
Disadvantages: Sensitive to water.
Notable Bag Styles: Lindy, Picotin, Evelyne
Chevre de Coromandel
Chevre de Coromandel is undeniably one of the most sought-after leathers offered by Hermes. Sourced from male mountain goats, it possesses a unique resilience that sets it apart from other Hermes leathers. What makes it truly remarkable is its iridescent quality and subtle graining. Despite its lightweight and soft touch, this leather is remarkably tough.
Due to its exceptional qualities, Chevre de Coromandel is considered a higher-priced option within the range of Hermes leathers and rightfully earns its place among the best of the best.
This goathide leather is strong and resilient, making it an excellent choice for those who plan to use their Hermes bag regularly. Chevre de Coromandel flawlessly combines luxury and practicality, making it an exceptional option for any Hermes bag.
Identifying features: Smooth finish and soft texture.
Advantages: Impervious to scratches and blemishes. Its lightweight nature ensures comfortable daily carrying.
Notable Bag Styles: Birkin, Kelly
Doblis Suede is a classic type of leather made from goatskin. The cool thing is that it can be polished and repaired when it gets scratched. Moreover, those scratches tend to fade away and become less noticeable as time flies by.
Yet this leather is really sensitive to water and moisture, so be careful not to get it wet or expose it to humid environments. Otherwise, it could get damaged or change color permanently. So definitely be cautious about that.
As it is used more and more, the leather will get softer and might even change shape a bit. And keeping its original color can be a real pain because it’s so easy to stain. Nevertheless, Doblis Suede is still totally awesome and has a unique charm all its own.
Identifying features: Smooth touch and polished surface.
Advantages: Minor scratches can naturally fade away over time.
Disadvantages: Sensitive to water, oil, and moisture, making it prone to mold growth and staining.
Notable Bag Styles: Birkin, Kelly
Clemence > Togo > Barenia Faubourg > Fjord > Evercolor > Swift > Chevre > Doblis Suede > Epsom > Barenia = Box Calf
Togo = Barenia Faubourg > Clemence > Barenia > Fjord > Evercolor > Epsom = Doblis Suede > Box Calf > Chevre > Swift
(Although Epsom leather may appear hard, once it is scratched, it develops visible creases that are challenging to repair.)
So, have you made up your mind on which leather to go with? It’s important to take both the pros and cons into consideration, as well as your own preference for the feel of the leather.
If you want your Hermes bag to last longer, Togo and Barenia Faubourg would likely be a better choice. When you pick the right leather and maintain it properly, even a replica Hermes bag can endure for a long time. (I know that for sure.) And don’t forget to take a look at the Hermes color guide so you know the most popular colors and colors that hold their value!