Home > Editorial > Becoming Proficient in Hermès Leathers: An In-Depth Handbook

Becoming Proficient in Hermès Leathers: An In-Depth Handbook

In the world of luxury, few names evoke the same level of reverence as Hermès. Beyond its iconic designs and coveted accessories, Hermès is celebrated for its exquisite leathers that stand as a testament to craftsmanship and quality. For those looking to deepen their understanding and appreciation, this blog post serves as a comprehensive guide, providing insights into the diverse range of Hermès leathers and how to become proficient in recognizing and caring for them. The list is in alphabetical order. Remember, if you have any additional questions regarding the materials, our expert team would be more than happy to guide you. 


Derived from Mississippiensis Alligator, this highly coveted exotic skin is offered in both matte and shiny (lisse) variations. While this delicate hide is infrequently utilized in larger handbags, alligator handbags, although resembling crocodile, are a more budget-friendly option. Recognizing these exquisite pieces is made easy by the distinctive square marking placed beside the Hermès name.

Ardennes Leather:

Also recognized as Vachette Grainee des Ardennes, this Hermès leather stands out for its exceptional durability, rendering it perfect for frequently used bags. Exhibiting water and scratch resistance, this processed, thick-grained leather maintains its shape admirably. Although the coloured dyes may fade over time, Ardennes leather is no longer in production by Hermès. As an excellent alternative, Vache Liegee leather can be considered.

Barenia Faubourg Leather:

In homage to Hermès’ iconic Paris boutique on Rue de Faubourg Saint-Honoré, the 2017 Hermès leather named Barenia Faubourg boasts a small grain, distinguishing it from the original Barenia. This unique characteristic enhances its resistance to scratches and blemishes, making it a standout choice for those seeking both style and durability.

Barenia Leather:

Originally employed for Hermès saddles, Barenia stands out as a smooth calfskin boasting a subtle sheen, offering resistance to both scratches and water. The leather’s unique quality lies in its ability to absorb skin oils, creating a beautiful  patina over time. Barena’s tanning process involves a double treatment with chrome and vegetable dyes, followed by immersion in a blend of oils over several weeks. This meticulous process enhances the leather’s scratch and water resistance Barenia leather may display a mottled or streaked appearance, and bags featuring this leather carry an unfoiled blindstamp. Revered for its rich history, luxurious thickness, and transformative ageing, Barenia remains a highly sought-after choice among seasoned collectors.

Box Calf Leather:

Regarded as the oldest and most enduring of Hermès leathers, Box Calf, or simply Box, traces its name to 19th Century English shoemaker Joseph Box. Smooth and glossy, Box leather is easily scratched, yet this very characteristic contributes to its unique allure. Over time, scratches meld, smooth, and patinate into the glossy finish synonymous with beloved Box. Although susceptible to scuffs and scratches, Box Calf leather can be expertly reconditioned at the Hermès spa, minimising marks and maintaining its timeless appeal. Known for its stiffness and shape-holding ability, Box leather is often found on vintage Hermès bags, particularly Sellier Kelly bags. 

Buffalo Leather:

Characterised by softness and pliantness, Buffalo leather is recognized for its remarkable malleability and durability, making it ideal for enduring various environments and activities. One of Hermès’ most durable leathers, Buffalo is nearly impervious to scratches and tears. With a grainy yet relatively smooth surface, Buffalo leather is easy to clean and develops unique colouring over time, enhancing its visual appeal. However, like with any leather, annual conditioning is necessary to preserve its shape.

Buffalo Dalmatian Leather:

A discontinued Hermès leather, Buffalo Dalmatian, also known as Buffalo Skipper, boasts a distinctive veiny appearance resulting from a double-dying process where pigments gather toward the centre of the grain. Resistant to scratches and water, this flexible and durable leather features a raised, medium-sized texture. Available in various colours on the secondary market, Buffalo Dalmatian is a unique and eye-catching option for those seeking a touch of individuality.

Buffalo Gala Leather:

Exclusively reserved for petite maroquinerie, Buffalo Gala Leather stands out with its supple texture and a sophisticated grain that seems to elegantly shimmer when exposed to direct light.

Buffalo Sindhu Leather:

Introduced in 2007 and exclusive to the Green Party line, Buffalo Sindhu Leather is a robust and heavy leather known for its resilience against scratches and blemishes. Ideal for those who frequently use their Hermès bags, Buffalo Sindhu ranks among the most durable Hermès leathers.

Butler Leather:

A distinguished Heritage Leather, Butler boasts a smooth, substantial feel with a mottled appearance. First produced in 2012, this natural leather is susceptible to scratches, which can be effortlessly rubbed out with a finger. Like Barenia and Box, Butler develops a unique patina over time. Owners attest to its water-resistant nature, but its availability is limited, produced in only a few neutral colours with Palladium Hardware. 

Caiman Crocodile:

Exclusive to vintage handbags predating the 1990s, Caiman Crocodile is not truly crocodile or alligator but originates from the reptiles inhabiting Central and South American swamps and waters. Hermès discontinued production due to a scarcity of high-quality supply. Vintage Caiman handbags bear the distinct circle (○) next to the Hermès stamp, serving as a hallmark of authenticity.

Chamonix Leather:

Hermès sources its Chamonix leather from the male calves residing in the picturesque French Alps retreat known as Chamonix, giving the leather its name. As the matte counterpart to the famed Box Calf leather, Chamonix offers a smooth, nearly plastic-like feel. Beyond its tactile charm, Chamonix surpasses Box Calf in durability while maintaining a commendable resistance to scratches. However, this distinctive leather is notably sensitive to water and requires prompt attention when exposed to moisture to prevent blistering. Preserving its pristine condition demands a swift wipe-down with a dry cloth.

Chèvre de Coromandel Leather:

Elevating the realm of Hermès leathers, Chèvre de Coromandel stands as one of the most coveted options. Derived from the hides of male mountain goats, this leather boasts a unique resilience that sets it apart. Marked by brilliance and subtle graining, Chèvre de Coromandel exhibits toughness that renders it nearly impervious to scratches and blemishes. Despite its lightweight and soft touch, the textured nature of this leather contributes to its exceptional durability. Positioned as a more luxurious choice within the Hermès leather spectrum, Chèvre de Coromandel undeniably merits recognition as one of the brand’s premier offerings.

Chèvre Mysore Leather:

Crafted from goat hide, Chèvre Mysore represents a refined iteration of its counterpart, Chèvre de Coromandel. With a larger grain, this leather maintains the lightweight and scratch-resistant attributes that define the Chèvre lineage. In the intricate tapestry of Hermès leathers, Chèvre Mysore stands as a testament to the brand’s commitment to diversity, offering a sophisticated option that harmonises refinement with enduring quality.

Country Leather:

Unveiled in 2012, Hermès Country leather boasts a distinctive large grain, firm texture, and exceptional durability.

Courchevel Leather:

Once a notable contender, Courchevel leather, discontinued in 2004, is celebrated for its embossed pattern and lightweight composition. Often drawing comparisons to the popular Hermès Epsom leather, which succeeded Courchevel in the same year, both exhibit a slightly textured exterior, ensuring ease of cleaning, water resistance, and diminished susceptibility to scratches and abrasions. Notably, the pigment on the top grain of Courchevel leather tends to be darker toward the centre, imparting a heightened lustre. While discontinued, Courchevel leather continues to find a presence in the secondary market, featuring in select handbags and accessories.

Crocodile Niloticus:

Among the most sought-after exotic Hermès leathers, Crocodile Niloticus is available in two presentations: Lisse (shiny) and matte. The shiny variant is achieved through meticulous buffing, resulting in a captivating glossy finish.  Recognizing Niloticus handbags is facilitated by the presence of two dot signs (••) adjacent to the Hermès name.

Crocodile Porosus:

Recognized as the pinnacle of opulence in exotic skins from Hermès, Crocodile Porosus stands as the most expensive choice. Similar to its Niloticus counterpart, Hermès’ Crocodile Porosus can be presented in both Lisse or matte finishes. Originating from Asia or Australia, this sought-after exotic skin bears the distinctive recognition symbol of a caret (^).

Derma Leather:

Introduced in 2004, Hermès Derma leather embodies smoothness and delicacy, crafted from the hides of male calves. The touch is velvety, providing a unique tactile experience in the realm of Hermès leathers.

Doblis Suede:

Doblis Suede from Hermès features a regular suede composition, offering a smooth touch and a napped finish. While scratches can be buffed out, it is essential to keep this suede away from water to maintain its integrity.

Epsom Leather:

Debuting in 2004 and stepping into the spotlight by replacing the discontinued Courchevel leather, Epsom leather is renowned for its heat-pressed construction, exhibiting a rigid, cross-hatched fine grain and an alluring sheen. This leather variant is favoured for its ability to showcase vibrant colours and maintain shape over time. Its embossed surface imparts waterproof qualities, reducing susceptibility to scratches. Lightweight, easy to clean, and often utilised in the production of Kelly and Birkin Sellier-style bags, Epsom leather stands as a versatile and popular choice in the Hermès collection.

Evercalf Leather:

Closely akin to Hermès Box Calf leather, Evercalf exhibits a striking visual resemblance, making these two Hermès leather types nearly interchangeable at first glance. However, in terms of tactility, Evercalf distinguishes itself by being notably softer and smoother. The surface boasts a more matte finish with a subtle sheen, and its enhanced resistance to scuffs and scrapes positions it as a robust choice for everyday use.

Evercolor Leather:

Introduced in 2013, Hermès’ Evercolor presents a soft and almost smooth texture with a minuscule, printed grain. As a pressed leather, Evercolor is both soft to the touch and possesses a delicate satiny sheen. Originally employed in crafting small leather goods, Evercolor has gained popularity and is now a favoured option for Kelly, Constance, and Lindy handbags, embodying the durability characteristic of other pressed Hermès leathers.

Evergrain Leather:

Serving as the sibling leather to Evercalf, Evergrain distinguishes itself through an embossed crackled motif, rendering it even softer in comparison. This added softness, however, makes the leather more susceptible to scratches if not cared for properly, particularly when compared to other embossed Hermès leathers. While smaller marks can be buffed out, larger scuffs may necessitate professional care.

Fjord Leather:

Known for its flat, wide grain akin to Hermès Togo leather and Clemence, Fjord is esteemed for its elegant matte appearance. Despite its supple texture and velvet-like finish, the leather carries substantial weight and boasts complete waterproofing. Fjord handbags, when observed from a distance, exhibit captivating “veins” throughout the surface. Though traditionally used for large bags due to its resilience in challenging weather conditions, the weightiness of Fjord leather has led to its infrequent use in contemporary handbags.

Grain d’H Leather:

Inaugurating its presence in 2012, Hermès’ Grain d’H Calfskin leather, featuring the iconic H monogram, showcases a diminutive grain that is not only soft but also serves as a protective shield against blemishes. This versatile leather has found extensive application in both handbags and smaller accessories.

Gulliver Leather:

Previously utilised in the crafting of Hermès handbags, Gulliver leather faced discontinuation in 1999, only to be reintroduced in 2005 under the moniker Swift leather, bearing identical characteristics. Hermès Gulliver handbags from the pre-owned era can still be unearthed in the secondary market.

Jonathan Leather:

Taking inspiration from the renowned Swift leather and named after Jonathan Swift, the author of Gulliver’s Travels, Veau Jonathan leather mimics the fine-grained texture of its counterpart. Smooth and gentle to the touch, Jonathan distinguishes itself by being stiffer and more rigid compared to Swift. In its characteristics, Jonathan aligns more closely with Box Calf leather, making it an ideal choice for structured bags.

Lizard Niloticus:

Hailing from the Nile River, Veranus Niloticus stands as the more prevalent of the two lizard skins utilised by Hermès. This particular lizard skin closely resembles the Varanus Salvator lizard from Asia. Identifying Niloticus is made simple by checking for the symbol next to the Hermès name—Veranus Niloticus bears a distinctive single hyphen (-). Available in both matte and shiny presentations, the small scales of the lizard lend even matte items a subtle sheen. Due to the diminutive size of these reptiles, lizard skin is predominantly employed in crafting smaller handbags and accessories. However, it is imperative to note that lizard is a delicate material necessitating regular spa visits to prevent the scales from drying.

Lizard Salvator:

Originating from Southeast Asia, Varanus Salvator lizard is renowned for its application in Hermès “Ombre” lizard handbags and accessories. The Salvator lizard undergoes dyeing into a symmetrical pattern, accentuating the natural riglet patterning of the skin. Identified by a double hyphen (=) next to the Hermès stamp, Varanus Salvator lizard is also occasionally referred to as Natural lizard.

Madame Leather:

Embossed akin to Epsom but with a finer grain and a softer touch, Hermès Veau Madame leather, often simply called Madame, is supple and lustrous. Primarily used for crafting Sellier Birkins and Kellys, this lightweight leather exudes elegance.

Milo Leather:

Chosen for small Hermès leather goods like Rodeo charms, Hermès Milo is the lambskin leather of preference.

Monsieur Leather:

Unveiled in 2018, Veau Monsieur leather, commonly known as Monsieur, mirrors the iconic Hermès Box Calf leather with its smooth grain. Exhibiting a subtle, satiny sheen that becomes more pronounced over time with handling, Veau Monsieur maintains its shape admirably.

Negonda Leather:

Debuting in 2007, Hermès Negonda leather, with its large grain, boasts complete water resistance. This feature makes it an excellent choice for frequently used large bags.


Among Hermès’ most robust exotic skins, Ostrich leather hails from South Africa, characterised by the unmistakable quills and dotted pattern throughout the skin. Boasting a matte finish, Ostrich leather is frequently offered in exclusive colors tailored to the distinctiveness of the skin. Recognized for its rigidity, Ostrich maintains its shape admirably over time. While durable, it may undergo darkening or softening due to hand oils and sweat. Notably, Ostrich is the sole exotic skin in Hermès’ repertoire without a marking by the Hermès name and requires no CITES for importation into the United States.

Peau Porc Leather:

Lightweight and resistant, Peau Porc is a pigskin leather that was once out of production but made a surprising return in 2021. Like many other Hermès leather types, Peau Porc leather must be shielded from water exposure to prevent tarnishing.

Rodeo Leather:

Veau Rodeo, or simply Rodeo, is distinguished by its veining, offering instant recognition. This resilient Hermès leather boasts full scratch resistance and is commonly employed in frequently worn accessories such as wallets.


While Hermès has incorporated Shearling in coats and winter accessories, Shearling bags are exceptionally rare to come by. Limited editions like the Teddy Shearling Kelly and the Teddy Kelly Pochette Muff have elevated these items to highly coveted status among Hermès collectors.

Sikkim Leather:

Veau Sikkim leather stands out as a thin and lightweight option, characterised by minimal or absent grain, resulting in an exceedingly soft and gentle feel. Handbags crafted from Sikkim leather possess a soft and pliable quality, displaying a slouchy appearance that renders them susceptible to scratches without proper care.

Sombrero Leather:

Making its debut in 2011, Sombrero leather is a smooth and delicate calf leather boasting a matte finish and a soft texture that, while enhancing its appeal, also renders it susceptible to scratches. Despite this delicacy, Sombrero proves to be a robust leather occasionally used in the construction of rigid handbags such as the Kelly Sellier or the Constance.

Swift Leather:

Formerly recognized as Gulliver leather until its discontinuation in 1999, it resurfaced in 2005 under a new moniker: Hermès Swift leather. Both Gulliver and Swift leather, along with the 2018 release, Jonathan leather, pay homage to Jonathan Swift, the author of Gulliver’s Travels. Swift leather boasts a fine natural grain that is not only supple and soft to the touch but also possesses a gentle sheen. Its capacity to absorb colours beautifully makes it an ideal choice for those enamoured with the vibrant hues in Hermès designs.

Taurillon Clemence Leather:

Introduced in the 1990s under the names Veau Taurillon Clemence or TC, Hermès Taurillon Clemence leather is commonly known today as Hermès Clemence leather. Exhibiting a semi-matte, smooth, pebbled-grained texture, Clemence instils a laid-back and subtly slouchy character into handbags. This natural leather, reminiscent of Togo, sets itself apart with a smoother feel, more substantial grains, and the notable absence of veining.

Taurillon Cristobal Leather:

Reserved mainly for men’s maroquinerie and bags, Taurillon Cristobal leather is distinguished by its supple and soft-to-the-touch qualities, showcasing visible grains.

Taurillon Novillo Leather:

Making its debut in 2015, Taurillon Novillo (TN) joins the ranks of natural leathers alongside Clemence and Togo. However, it stands out with a finer grain, resembling Epsom leather in texture and weight. Taurillon Novillo earns acclaim for its vibrant colour absorption, making it a top choice for lively handbags.

Troika Leather:

An elusive and distinct offering, Troika is enveloped in smooth, lustrous calf hair, creating a unique tactile experience. Typically used in combination with other Hermès leather types, Troika adds an extra layer of sophistication to crafted pieces.

Tadelakt Leather:

Among Hermès’ favoured leathers, Veau Tadelakt often confuses observers with its similarities to Box Calf. Boasting a smooth and glossy finish, Tadelakt surpasses Box Calf in lustre, devoid of visible grains. The silky texture, glossy sheen, and high colour absorption elevate the dressy appearance of Tadelakt handbags, setting them apart from those crafted with Box Calf or Swift leather.

Togo Leather:

Entering the scene in 1997, Hermès Togo leather has become a staple choice. Characterised by its natural pebbled grain, matte finish, and visible veining, Togo is celebrated for its durability and resilience against showing scratches. Easy to maintain, this leather emerges as the ideal selection for those seeking longevity and hassle-free care.

Vache Leather:

Hermès’ Vache leather remains untreated, allowing it to retain its natural state and develop a distinctive patina over time with repeated use. This delicate and soft leather, akin to fine wine, matures gracefully, making it a prized choice. Often found in vintage handbags, Vache leather is exclusively released in two colors: Natural and black.

Vache Hunter Leather:

Possessing a robust yet delicate nature, Vache Hunter leather is predominantly employed as trim in handbags, such as the Herbag, and occasionally appears in other Hermès bags like the Evelyne.

Vache Liegee Leather:

Debuting in 2004 as a successor to Ardennes leather, Hermès Vache Liegee is the brand’s thickest leather, ensuring that any bag crafted from it maintains a robust and well-defined structure.

Vache Trekking Leather:

A rarity among Hermès leathers, the durable Vache Trekking made its introduction in 2009 and is sparingly utilised by Hermès handbag artisans.

Veau Grain Lisse Leather:

Recognized as VGL, Veau Grain Lisse stands among the diverse array of Hermès leathers that undergo pressing and processing, resulting in a sleek and glossy appearance. Resilient against scratches and water, this leather variant is effortlessly cleaned. Due to its shared characteristics with Hermès Epsom leather, Veau Grain Lisse was phased out by Hermès in 2003. Nevertheless, in the secondary market, pre-owned Hermès VGL handbags can still be discovered.

Velvet Leather:

Commonly referred to as Nubuck, Hermès Velvet leather is meticulously crafted from rawhide of male calves. Featuring the calf coat on one side, the suede is trimmed to achieve a soft, velvet-like finish. While primarily employed in smaller accessories, this leather occasionally graces select handbags, rendering them especially precious and delicate.

Vibrato Leather:

Despite its initial resemblance to canvas or fabric, Vibrato surprises with its composition—crafted from strips of goatskin leather and suede. This rare and visually captivating style not only exhibits resistance to scratches but also carries a slightly higher price tag compared to other Hermès leathers.

Finding your perfect match

No matter which leather you opt for, keep in mind that with some care and attention, your Hermès bag will endure the passage of time for many years. When it comes to finding the bag of your dreams, our concierge service at LovedBags is here to lend a helping hand. Feel free to reach out, and let LovedBags assist you in discovering your perfect companion.

Similar Posts