A Guide to Buying Your First Exotic Hermes Bag

Your First Hermès Exotic Bag

At last! The time has come for you to purchase your first exotic Hermès bag! You’re embarking on an exciting adventure and want to learn everything you need to know to make the best decision. Will you opt for crocodile, ostrich, alligator, or lizard skin? Should you select a large exotic Birkin or a petite Kelly or Constance? Which looks nicer, a shiny or matte finish? Is it better to choose a dark, neutral shade that goes with everything or a bright pop of color that makes you smile? There’s a lot to consider. So, let’s explore the world of Hermès exotic bags.

Hermès Exotic Skins — Crocodile, Alligator, Ostrich, and Lizard

When choosing an Hermès exotic skin bag, the first consideration is the type of skin you would like. Because of the small size of the animal, lizard skin is used only for the smallest bags and wallets. The tiny, close-set scales elevate the look of Hermès lizard bags. Ostrich bags, with their characteristic bumps and follicle pores, have a charming “polka dot” appeal. Hermès ostrich bags are available in a wide range of sizes, colors, and styles. In addition to exotic Hermès Kelly and Birkin bags, you’ll find ConstanceLindyBolide, and Picotin bags in ostrich skin. Ostrich skin bags are the most versatile of all Hermès exotic leathers and can be dressed up or down with ease.

While crocodile and alligator skins look similar, there are many key distinctions. In addition to other differences, alligators are far smaller than crocodiles, so fewer bags can be made from a single skin. As a result, Hermès alligator bags are often smaller Kelly, Birkin, and Constance bags. Hermès crocodile bags tend to be the larger Birkin and Kelly bags.

Suit Your Personal Style

Each Hermès exotic skin imparts its unique character on the bag. While crocodile — specifically crocodile Porosus — is the most expensive and highly sought-after exotic leather, that doesn’t make it the right choice for you. Think long and hard about how you want to express yourself. The bold drama of the alligator and crocodile skins is not for everyone. Some find the crocodile overwhelming and prefer the more subtle elegance of lizard skin. Also, consider whether you want your exotic Hermès to be your everyday bag or reserved for special occasions. 

Hermès exotic bags are quite dressy and look at home at any red-carpet event in the world. While you can certainly wear a shiny crocodile Birkin with ripped jeans and a boyfriend sweater, it is better suited for a silk gown or cocktail dress. A matte finish is a better option if you intend to wear a crocodile or alligator during the day. Ostrich, which is only produced in a matte finish, is an alternative choice. It can be dressed up or down, which enables it to pair effortlessly with everything in your wardrobe.  And, it is substantially less expensive than crocodile.

Hermès Exotic Skins — Lisse or Matte?

The reptilian Hermès exotic skin bags are produced with two finishes, lisse (shiny) and matte. Both finishes are the result of artisans polishing the skin by hand. For the lisse finish, a smooth agate stone is used to polish the skin until the scales shine with a mirror brilliance. Wool felt polishing delivers the velvety soft matte. There is no gloss or glaze to wear off or chip away.

So, which should you choose? The lisse finish is considered dressier than the matte. It also leaves the leather stiffer, while the Hermès exotic with a matte finish is softer and more pliable and may start to sag with consistent wear and overstuffing. Many prefer lisse for the more formal Kelly, while they reserve the matte for an exotic Birkin.

Still others find the perfect balance between the drama of the crocodile skin and the elegance of the lizard in a matte finish croc or alligator. Many women love the flashy appeal of their Rose Poupre or Emerald shiny croc Birkin and wear it every day. Evaluate your wardrobe with particular attention to the clothes and outfits you most love to wear. What gives you joy? Understanding that will guide you to your ideal exotic Hermès bag.

Hermès Exotic Skins — All About the Color

Hermès artisans have an extraordinary way with color, making the choice of your first Hermès exotic bag all the more fun and challenging. But now is the time to decide whether you want a bag you will wear almost daily or only on special occasions. Would you prefer a bag with quiet elegance or something that is an attention-getting flourish? There is no right or wrong choice here. Just remember that your choice should make your heart sing.

Building upon this choice and your wardrobe analysis, you should have a good idea of what colors would mean the most to you. If you have decided that a neutral shade suits you best, there is a sumptuous selection of Hermès neutral shades to choose from. 

Be aware that Hermès exotic skins in lighter colors experience some color transfer you’ll need to be careful with. And the natural oils of your hands can darken the skin over time, especially in the handles. Consider adding a festive set of Twilly scarves to the handles to protect them and add your own personal flair. 

If you intend your exotic Hermès bag to be strictly a collectible investment, then black or a light pink such as 5P is likely your best bet.

Hermès Exotic Bags — Shop Boutique or Dealer?

There is an enormous demand for exotic Hermès skin bags. Unfortunately, unless you’re a VIP, you will not be offered one. According to the last statistics from a few years back, Hermès only produces about 3,000 exotic bags per year. So, unless you’ve already spent close to seven figures at Hermès, you will not be able to purchase an exotic bag from the boutique. This is why dealers like Madison Avenue Couture are so popular! You can purchase your exotic Hermès bag without first spending thousands of dollars on other merchandise and then waiting years.

Best of all, when you purchase from a dealer, you choose the specific size and model of Hermès exotic bag you want from a wide assortment of colors and finishes. On the other hand, when you buy from an Hermès boutique, you’re in for a grueling obstacle course with no certain prize for the winner.

Caring for Your Hermès Exotic Bag

Once you have chosen your first exotic Hermès bag, you’ll need to provide proper care, which is a bit more involved than for Hermès leathers:

  • You should never carry an exotic bag if there’s even a chance of rain. Water damage to exotic leather is almost always irreversible.

  • Be mindful when wearing light-colored exotic handbags against dark-colored clothing, as the color will transfer.

  • Be gentle with the bag’s handles, as the skin can crack if the handles are bent.

  • It’s a good idea to wear a Twilly around the handles so as not to darken them with your hand’s natural oils.

  • Avoid using lotion on days you wear your exotic Hermès bag. Lotion can dull and discolor the skin. Just like any good leather, exotic skins need to be moisturized and conditioned. However, it’s essential to have this done professionally at an Hermès handbag spa and never attempt at-home DIY moisturizing.

When You’re Ready to Purchase Your Hermès Exotic Bag

Are you ready? Have you decided what size and type of Hermès bag you’d like? Did you choose crocodile, alligator, ostrich, or lizard? Shiny or matte? What color? 

Congratulations on reaching this exciting moment! Madison Avenue Couture has a large selection of Hermès exotic bags in stock available for immediate delivery. If a desired bag is not in stock, Madison Avenue Couture’s concierge service will source its network  to find it for you. 

Judy Taylor

CEO & Founder of Madison Avenue Couture
Judy Taylor, the CEO and founder of Madison Avenue Couture is one of the most respected authorities on luxury bags and accessories. Her unwavering commitment to quality has cemented her as an expert in luxury retail, inspiring fashion enthusiasts worldwide.
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