What truly defines Hermes Leather Bags is the craftsmanship, detailing, and leather. Unlike any other brand, Hermes uses varying types of leathers and colors for each bag, which often means that your Hermes Birkin or Kelly is one of a kind. Whether you’re deciding what type of leather your dream handbag is going to be, or you’re looking to identify what kind of leather your Hermes item is, this Herme’s Leather Reference Library has you covered.
Released in 1997. Togo leather is grained, textured and anti-scratch calf leather. Togo is lightweight, yet holds it’s shape. Togo has a defined soft pebbled finish that appears raised and feels smooth but grainy. At a far away distance, Togo appears to have vertical veins and reflects light. This is the most popular leather for Hermès Birkin Bags.
Released in the mid-1980s. Clemence is a natural grained and anti-scratch leather that is made from a baby bull calf, and is officially named Veau Taurillon Clemence. The grains are larger than in Togo. The grain is less deep than Togo, causing a more “matte” effect.
Notice Togo has a slight reflection and smaller cells, while Clemence appears “matte” and has larger cells.
Fjord is textured, matte, anti-scratch and is made from an adult bull. It is more durable than Togo or Clemence, even waterproof! Fjord has a slight velvety touch and matte texture. Fjord has a very visible grain. It has a wider, flatter grain than Togo or Clemence. One of the most common characteristics of Fjord is that it has vertical veins when viewed at a distance (sometimes vertically throughout the whole bag). The amount of veining can vary based on the skin. It’s possible to have a Fjord bag with no veining at all. It is also one of the heavier leathers.
Evergrain is a stiff leather with a grain. Evergrain is actually the embossed version of the smooth “Evercalf.” It has a very soft touch and scratches will buff out very easily. The color version of Evergrain is called “Evercolor”.
Released in 2003. Embossed leather. Epsom replaced Courchevel in 2003. Unlike other leather, the pattern is pressed into the leather, giving the bag a laminated appearance that is rigid and structured. Epsom won’t scratch easily and is also very easy to clean. Epsom is still being used by Hermes today.
Hermes Veau Grain Lisse
Discontinued in 2003. Embossed leather. Veau Grain Lisse is a glass processed press leather that is known for being slightly thin with a luster. It is scratch resistant, slightly shiny, and lightweight. Sometimes referred to by Hermes collectors as “VGL,” Veau Grain Lisse has less angular, rounded grains. This leather is rigid and holds its shape fairly well.
Discontinued in handbags in the late 1990s/early 2000s. Used in Accessories until 2003. Embossed leather. Courchevel was the predecessor to Epsom, and it is now completely retired. Courchevel is a stamped leather with very even grain throughout. Courchevel is slightly shiny and is darker at the top part of the grain. It is lightweight, scratch resistant and easy to clean.
Released in 2006 (Previously named Gulliver which was discontinued in 1999). Swift leather is semi smooth, soft, semi matte. Swift is a soft leather with a fine grain. One of its best qualities is that it is great at absorbing the dyes and the brighter colors come to life in this leather. The fine grain seems to reflect light in such a way that the colors are almost iridescent.
Hermes Box Calf
Classic smooth calf leather. Box is stiff, smooth and very shiny. This leather has a visible fine grain. A more rigid structure than the grainy leathers. Box will show scratches more than the textured leathers, but over time it will develop a beautiful glossy mirror-like “patina”. Under the right care, Box calf leather can last for generations. Hermes fans love Box leather because it can be restored by Hermes, no matter the condition, in the “Hermes Spa.” This is the oldest type of Hermes leather and frequently appears in Vintage Kellys or belts. The name originates from an English shoe craftsman in the 1890s, Joseph Box.
Barenia is buttery smooth, and has a matte finish. Like “Chamonix”, it’s frequently combined with white top stitch and commonly is distinguished by natural “Hermès Made In France” blind stamps. Barenia is commonly used in saddles, small leather goods, and occasionally bags. Barenia is very delicate and prone to scratches. Barenia is also a softer leather and bags will lose their shape after a while. This leather is double tanned in chrome and vegetable dyes and then soaked in a mix of nine different oils over a 5 to 6 week process. Barenia will develop a patina over time because it has no aniline finish and can absorb oil. Barenia can come in colors other than Natural (also called Fauve) – such as Black, Vert Olive, Indigo.
This is another of Hermes’s classic leathers, showing up in vintage pieces over 50 years old. A cowhide that is smooth, untreated and very delicate. It develops into patina over time and the material will darken. Vache Natural, when new, will appear to be very light. It is much like Louis Vuitton’s cowhide Vachetta leather. Only released in Natural and Black.
Hermes Vache Hunter
Natural Vache Hunter Hermes Leather is a cowhide leather that is primarily used as a trim in Hermes bags such as the Etriviere and Herbag. Vache Hunter is very stiff and prone to scratches. It commonly has a rough, unfinished underside.
Hermes Chevre Mysore
Released in 2002. A goathide Hermes Leather with a grain that is more defined than its cousin, Chevre de Coromandel. It is lightweight and scratch resistant. There is a pronounced “sheen” to Chevre and reflects light very well. Chevre Mysore typically doesn’t have a visible spine.
Hermes Chevre de Coromandel
A goathide Hermes Leather which is soft, lightweight and scratch resistant. Chevre de Coromandel has a visible spine down the center, a slightly iridescent sheen, and a visible graining. As of Spring 2008, Chevre de Coromandel is now released in “Souple,” which has less of a visible spine, less shine, and is much more pliable.
Hermes Vache Liegee
Released in 2004. Vache Liegee is a natural grained leather. Supposedly, the leather is stretched in 8 different directions and has a two-tone effect in the grain. It also has a slight sheen and luster. Vache Liegee leather is noted for being the thickest and most durable of the Hermes leathers.
Vachette Grainee des Ardennes is a processed pressed leather crafted from a malf calf raised in the Adrenne region (Northern France to Southern Belgium). Ardennes leather is very sturdy and holds its shape surprisingly well, complete with thick pressed grains and a slight sheen. Vache Ardennes is quite thick and structured (it does not slouch or flop) and is water and scratch resistant. It does not have a “soft” feeling like Clemence and the grains are slightly raised. Many Hermes collectors consider this leather to be a “work horse” and can stand the test of time, but the dye is prone to fading over time. This leather is very hard to find and is no longer in production. Vache Liegee replaced Ardennes leather.
Released in 2007. Crafted out of adult bull calf with a large grain. This matte type of leather is completely resistant to water. It has a matte, dry feeling to the touch. Negonda is mainly used in Garden Party bags.
Hermes Veau Sikkim
Veau Sikkim leather is buttery and soft. It has little to no grain, thus giving it its ultra soft feel. Sikkim leather tends to not hold shape and therefore gets slouchy very easily. Sikkim is used in the “Relax” version of the Bolide and Kelly, as well as the Double Sens tote.
Often people confuse Vibrato for fabric but in fact, it is stacked leather. Vibrato leather is created by applying pressure to strips of leather and sueded leather. The stacked leather creates a textile that looks like cross-sections of stacked leather. Vibrato is difficult to maintain but is durable and scratch resistant. It is a very rare leather and is considered to be more expensive than other leathers. Vibrato often comes with an “eraser” to refurbish the leather. Vibrato handbags are very hard to find and showcase the capabilities of highly trained Hermes craftsmanship.
Crocodile Niloticus Matte and Shiny (Lisse)
Crocodile leather from Africa’s Nile River region in Zimbabwe. It has a larger scale pattern compared to the Porosus. Crocodile skins have small “pores”, which look like small dimples in each scale cell. The dimples are sensory pores that assist crocodiles to detect change in water pressure, and locate their prey. Crocodiles have these dots throughout their bodies. The shiny (lisse) version comes from continuous buffing until it shows a gloss. The Hermes symbol on the bag will include two apostrophes (‘’) to identify it as “Niloticus”.
Crocodile Porosus Matte and Shiny (Lisse)
This Crocodile is farmed in Australia and Southeast Asian countries like Singapore. Considered by many to be the premier Hermes leather and noted for its fine, symmetrical scale pattern. The shine comes from constant buffing of the skin with stone until it shines. The Hermes logo will include the symbol ^ to identify it as “Porosus”.
Hermes Alligator Matte and Shiny (Lisse)
The Alligator that Hermes uses is “Alligator Mississippiensis” and is farmed in Florida. Alligator leather has an umbilical scar, which is an elongated irregular shape with a webbing pattern in it, which is often placed prominently on products to show the authenticity of the leather. This means that the patterning of the alligator scales is not as uniform. Alligator has small rectangular scales in the middle and smaller, oval-shaped scales down the sides (shown here). Alligator is commonly dyed in a variety of colors. The Hermes logo will include a square symbol to identify it as “Alligator”.
Varanus Salvator Water Monitor Lizard
This stunning exotic is crafted from the hide of a water monitor. Owing to the size of the hide, it is mostly used in 25cm Birkin’s, smaller bags and small leather goods. The smaller scales give this leather a shine or iridescence. The Hermes logo will include an equal sign (=) to identify it was Salvator Lizard.
Varanus Niloticus Water Monitor Lizard
The small scales of this leather made from Monitor Lizard from Africa’s Nile River. provides a shiny look. The Hermes logo will include an dash sign (-) to identify it was Niloticus Lizard.
Ostrich leather comes from Struthio Camellus, farmed in South Africa. This is a dynamic leather that will darken from contact with your hands and also lighten with exposure to light. Ostrich leather is known for its distinctive “polka dotted” look, which is caused by the plucking of quills. Ostrich is very delicate and rare.
Other Hermes Materials
Woven linen in herringbone or chevron pattern. Used in dustbags and linings of certain bags.
Linen, usually used in conjunction with a leather on the bags. Weave is similar in strength and appearance to fire hose material. Commonly used in Garden Party bags.
Canvas is a heavy weight cloth that is treated and is usually combined with other leathers. Commonly used in the Herbag.