The Ultimate Guide to Hermès Leathers and Skins
Hermès luxury handbags are, uncontestedly, the most coveted on the planet. While there are several reasons for the extraordinary value of Hermès bags, the exceptional qualities of the many Hermès leathers used to craft each bag are high on that list. Each leather has its own, unique character that enhances the bags it is used in.
Our comprehensive guide details virtually all of the known leathers and skins Hermès has ever used to create their leather goods. (Note: This guide does not include extremely rare vintage leathers that are now illegal to be used.)
Whether the leather plays a starring role in a legendary Birkin or Kelly bag, or is used as trim for a wallet or small accessory, you’ll find its profile described here. We have included notes about each one’s look, feel, weight, texture, and durability; and we will be updating this guide seasonally as new Hermès leather types are introduced.
The Top 10 Most Popular Hermès Leathers
(in alphabetical order)
1. Hermès Barenia Leather
With its smooth finish, water-resistant qualities, and beautiful neutral shade, it is no wonder this leather was first used by Hermès to create saddles, and remains one of the most durable Hermès leathers. Because it absorbs the oils found on skin, Barenia leather creates a patina over time, which, depending on the owner’s preference, can be a drawback or an advantage.
2. Hermès Box Calf Leather
Box Calf, also known as Veau Leather, is Hermès' oldest leather used in handbags. It is a fine-grain leather that develops a beautiful patina over time. Hermès Box Calf leather is particularly “boardy”, a term in leatherworking that describes leather that is stiff, holding its shape well, rather than pliable. This quality is why Box Calf leather is most commonly used in structured bags that hold their shape well, like Kelly Sellier bags.
Hermès Box Calf leather has a delicate surface that is prone to scuffs and scratches and if wet, can develop blisters. However, some of these marks can be minimized when taken to an expert for reconditioning, or to the Hermès spa.
3. Hermès Chèvre de Coromandel Leather
Chèvre de Coromandel is one of the most coveted Hermès leathers. It’s sourced from male mountain goats, which gives the leather a resilience that differentiates it from others offered by Hermès. It is distinguished by its iridescence and slight graining. The toughness of the leather and the fact that it is textured makes it almost impervious to scratches and other blemishes—even though the leather per se is lightweight and soft to the touch.
Because of all these prodigious qualities, Chèvre de Coromandel is a more expensive option in Hermès’ spectrum of leathers and surely deserves consideration as one of the best Hermès leathers.
4. Hermès Chèvre Mysore Leather
Another one of Hermès leathers made from goat hide, Chèvre Mysore is a more refined version of Chèvre de Coromandel with a larger grain, but sharing the same characteristics: lightweight and scratch-resistant.
5. Hermès Epsom Leather
Epsom is a heat-pressed leather with a rigid, cross-hatched fine grain and an appealing sheen. Epsom is particularly popular because it tends to show color with greater vibrancy than most other leathers. It was introduced in 2004 and replaced Courchevel leather, which was discontinued the same year.
An Hermès Epsom leather bag holds its shape over time. The embossed surface allows it to be waterproof, and less likely to show scratches. The leather is also lightweight and easy to clean, requiring just a simple swipe of a moist cloth. Epsom is often used in the manufacture of Kelly and Birkin Sellier-style bags.
6. Hermès Evercolor Leather
Hermès’ Evercolor was introduced in 2013. Evercolor is a pressed leather that has a tight grain. It is soft to the touch and has a bit of a satiny sheen. It is a durable Hermès leather like other pressed leathers. Used initially to produce small leather goods, Evercolor is now a popular option for Kelly, Constance and Lindy handbags.
7. Hermès Swift Leather
The Hermès leather formerly known as Gulliver was discontinued in 1999, but reintroduced in 2005 under a new name: Hermès Swift leather. (Both Gulliver and Swift leather, as well as the Jonathan leather released in 2018 are named for Jonathan Swift, the author of Gulliver’s Travels). Swift leather’s fine natural grain is supple and soft to the touch. It has a sheen and absorbs colors beautifully, making it a great option for Hermès color lovers.
8. Hermès Taurillon Clemence Leather
Also known as Veau Taurillon Clemence, or simply TC, Hermès Taurillon Clemence leather was first introduced in the 1990s. Today, it is generally referred to simply as Hermès Clemence leather. Clemence has a semi-matte smooth, pebbled-grained surface that creates a slightly slouchy and relaxed handbag Clemence and Togo are both natural leathers and quite similar, but Clemence is smoother to the touch and has slightly larger grains and no veining compared to Togo.
9. Hermès Tadelakt Leather
Veau Tadelakt is one of Hermès most popular leathers, though it is often confused with Box Calf because of the many similarities they share. Both are known for their smooth and glossy finish, which is why they are susceptible to scratches and can blister when exposed to water. However, it is much more lustrous than the Hermès Box Calf leather — primarily because it has no visible grains. The silky texture, glossy finish and high color absorption make Tadelakt handbags appear dressier than Box Calf or Swift leather handbags, the other leather with which it is often confused.
10. Hermès Togo Leather
Introduced in 1997, Hermès Togo leather is one of the most popular Hermès leather. It is a natural pebbled grained leather with a matte finish and visible veining. Because of its texture, Togo is less likely to show scratches than many of the other leathers. It is also easy to maintain, as most spots can be removed with a damp cloth.
Togo is a durable leather and is the perfect choice when you’re looking for a leather that’s easy to maintain.
Hermès Exotic Skins
In addition to bags in the most popular leathers listed above, Hermès exotic skin handbags are highly coveted and represent the most elegant bags the luxury design house offers. These exotic skins are leathers made from non-domesticated animals. Hermès describes their exotic skins as “precious leather” that is “an organic and sensitive material that improves over time.”
(in alphabetical order)
From Mississippiensis Alligator, this highly sought-after exotic skin is available in both matte and shiny (lisse) presentations. This delicate skin is rarely found in larger handbags and although similar to crocodile, alligator handbags are less expensive. You can recognize alligator handbags and accessories by the square marking next to the Hermès name.
Caiman crocodile is found only on vintage handbags that date back to before the 1990s. Caiman crocodile is neither crocodile or alligator, but a reptile native to Central and South American swamps, marshes and other waters. Hermès ceased production due to the lack of quality supply. Vintage Caiman handbags can be identified by the circle (○) next to the Hermès stamp.
Crocodile Niloticus is one of the most popular exotic Hermès leather and comes in two presentations: Lisse (shiny) and matte. The former is achieved by buffing the skin until it develops a beautiful glossy shine. Compared to alligator, crocodile handbags have larger scales and small dots or pores in the middle of the scales. Niloticus handbags can be recognized by the two dots signs (••) next to the Hermès name.
Although these crocodiles are sourced from the Nile river, it is recommended the bags stay away from water, so as to avoid damaging them.
Crocodile Porosus is the most expensive exotic skin produced by Hermès. Just like its Niloticus counterpart, Hermès’ Crocodile Porosus can be Lisse or matte. Sourced from Asia or Australia, this popular exotic skin can be recognized by a caret (^) symbol.
Hermès Lizard Niloticus
Veranus Niloticus, originating from the Nile river, is the most common of the two lizard skins that Hermès uses. The skin is very similar to the Varanus Salvator lizard, which comes from Asia.
The best way of knowing that the lizard is Niloticus is by checking the symbol next to the Hermès name. Veranus Niloticus has a single hyphen (-) next to the Hermes name
Like most of Hermès exotic skins, lizard comes in both matte and shiny presentations. However, the small lizard scales give even the matte items a slightly shiny appearance. Because of the small size of lizards, this type of skin is usually used in smaller handbags and accessories. Lizard is a delicate material that requires frequent visits to the spa, to avoid drying of the scales.
Hermès Lizard Salvator
Varanus Salvator lizard, originating from Southeast Asia, is best known for its use in Hermès “Ombre” lizard handbags and accessories. The Salvator lizard is dyed into a symmetrical pattern that highlights the natural riglet patterning of the skin. Salvator lizard is marked with a double hyphen (=) next to the Hermès stamp. Varanus Salvator lizard is also sometimes referred to as Natural lizard.
Ostrich is one of Hermès' most durable exotic skins. Ostrich skins come from South Africa and are immediately identified by the quills, the dotted pattern throughout the skin. Ostrich has a matte finish and is often offered in colors exclusive to the skin. Ostrich is a rigid skin and holds its shape well over time. While durable, it can darken or soften from hand oils and sweat. It is the only exotic skin offered by Hermès that has no marking by the Hermès name and does not require a CITES for import into the United States.
Other Hermès Leathers
In addition to the top 10 most popular Hermès leathers and exotic skins, there is a vast range of exquisite leathers that are or have been used to craft these luxury handbags.
(in alphabetical order)
Hermès Ardennes Leather
Also known as Vachette Grainee des Ardennes, this is one of the most durable Hermès’ leathers, perfect for bags that are used often, as it is both water and scratch-resistant. The processed, thick grained-leather holds its shape well but the colored dyes can fade with time. Ardennes is no longer produced by Hermès, but Vache Liegee leather is a good alternative.
Hermès Barenia Faubourg Leather
Named after Hermès iconic Paris boutique at Rue de Faubourg Saint-Honoré, this 2017 Hermès leather has a small grain, unlike the original Barenia, making it more resistant to scratches and blemishes.
Hermès Buffalo Leather
Buffalo leather is fairly soft and supple. It is known for being remarkably malleable while also being durable, which means that it can withstand a variety of wearisome environments and activities. Buffalo is one of the most durable Hermès leathers. Scratches and tears are nearly unlikely to happen, and the strong fibers also make it flame resistant — qualities that have made Buffalo leather perfect for Hermès’ Garden Party line.
The surface of Buffalo leather has a grainy texture, yet is still relatively smooth to the touch, making it easy to clean with a few swipes. It is also known for developing unique coloring as it ages, becoming even more visually striking over time.
That said, Buffalo leather isn’t without caveats. First, it requires yearly conditioning so it keeps its shape. And because it is made from individual animals, finding another leather to match can be hard.
Hermès Buffalo Dalmatian Leather
This discontinued Hermès leather has a peculiar, veiny appearance, as it has been dyed twice, and during the dying process, pigments gather toward the center of the grain, giving it its unique spotted look, similar to a Dalmatian dog. Also known as Buffalo Skipper, Buffalo Dalmatian is resistant to scratches and water. It’s flexible, and durable with raised, medium-sized texture and is available in the secondary market in a few different colors.
Hermès Buffalo Gala Leather
This soft leather is only used on smaller maroquinerie and it’s recognizable thanks to its sophisticated grain that can seem to glisten under direct light.
Hermès Buffalo Sindhu Leather
Buffalo Sindhu was first introduced in 2007 and only used in the Green Party line. It is a heavy leather that won’t show scratches or blemishes, making it perfect for those who use their Hermès bags often. Buffalo Sindhu is one of the most durable Hermès leathers.
Hermès Butler Leather
Introduced in 2013, Butler is another one of Hermès leather that is natural and untreated. It’s a leather that requires the utmost care as it shows scratches easily, though most marks can be buffed out. This is a rare and hard-to-find leather that has been compared to the more popular Barenia leather that also develops a patina over time.
Hermès Chamonix Leather
Hermès Chamonix leather is sourced from male calves from a resort area in the French Alps called Chamonix — hence the name. The matte version of Hermès Box Calf leather, Chamonix has a smooth, almost plastic-like texture to the touch.
Compared to Box Calf, Chamonix is more durable and doesn’t have the same susceptibility to scratches. However, it is extremely sensitive to water and can blister over time when left in a moist setting and/or not taken care of properly. If it were to get wet, Chamonix leather must be wiped down immediately with a dry cloth so as to preserve its condition.
Hermès Country Leather
Hermès Country leather was introduced in 2012. Its large grain, firmness, and durability make it a great option for Garden Party handbags.
Hermès Courchevel Leather
Courchevel leather, discontinued in 2004, is embossed and lightweight — qualities that often prompts comparisons to the more popular Hermès Epsom leather, which replaced Courchevel the same year. Because of their slightly textured exterior, both are easy to clean, water-resistant and are less prone to scratches and other abrasions. However, the pigment on the top grain of Courchevel leather is much darker toward the center, making it appear more lustrous.
Although discontinued, there are still handbags and accessories made from Courchevel in the secondary market.
Hermès Derma Leather
Hermès Derma leather first made its appearance in 2004. Smooth to the touch and delicate, this is another one of Hermès leathers made from male calf.
Hermès Doblis Suede
Hermès Doblis is regular suede, with a smooth touch and a napped finish. Just like any other type of suede, scratches can be buffed out, but it must be kept away from water.
Hermès Evercalf Leather
Evercalf is very similar to Hermès Box Calf leather. Indeed, at first glance, these two Hermès leather types are almost interchangeable. In regards to tactility, though, Evercalf is much softer and smoother. It also has a more matte surface with just a hint of sheen. Additionally, it is not as prone to scuffs and scrapes, making it a more sturdy option for everyday use.
Hermès Evergrain Leather
Evergrain is the sister leather of Evercalf. The major difference between the two is that Evergrain is embossed with a crackled motif, which makes it even softer. Because of this, the leather is vulnerable to scratches when not taken care of properly — even more so than other embossed Hermès leathers. However, small marks can be buffed out, but larger scuffs need to be taken to a professional for refurbishing.
Hermès Fjord Leather
Fjord has a flat, wide grain (much like Hermès Togo leather and Clemence), and it is renowned for having an elegant matte appearance. Though the texture is supple with a velvet-like finish, the leather is rather heavy and completely waterproof. From a distance, Hermès Fjord handbags look like they have “veins” throughout. Fjord is often used for large bags, as the skin is hard-wearing and is able to withstand trying weather conditions. However, due to the heaviness of the leather, Fjord is rarely used on handbags anymore.
Hermès Grain d’H Leather
Hermès’ Grain d’H Calfskin leather, with its signature H monogram, first made its appearance in 2012. The small grain is soft, yet its texture protects against blemishes. This leather has been used a lot in both handbags and smaller accessories.
Hermès Veau Grain Lisse Leather
Veau Grain Lisse, commonly known as VGL, is one of many Hermès leathers that is pressed and processed, giving it a thin and glossy appearance. It is quite resistant to scratches and water, and easy to clean. Because it shares many qualities with Hermès Epsom leather, Veau Grain Lisse was discontinued by Hermès in 2003. However, you can still find pre-owned Hermès VGL handbags in the secondary market.
Hermes Gulliver Leather
Gulliver leather was used to produce Hermes handbags until it was discontinued in 1999 and reintroduced as Swift leather in 2005. It has the same characteristics as Swift leather. Pre-owned Hermès Gulliver handbags can be found in the secondary market.
Hermès Jonathan Leather
Like the Hermès Swift leather it closely resembles, the Veau Jonathan leather is named for Jonathan Swift, the author of Gulliver's Travels. Like Swift, the Jonathan leather is a fine-grained calf leather, smooth and soft to the touch. Jonathan, however, is stiffer and more rigid than Swift, and is similar to Box Calf leather in its suitability for structured bags.
Hermès Madame Leather
Supple and soft to the touch, the Hermès Veau Madame leather is embossed like the Epsom, but with a finer grain and a softer feel. Generally referred to as Madame, this lightweight Hermès leather has a lustrous sheen. It is most often used to produce Sellier Birkins and Kellys.
Hermès Milo Leather
Hermès Milo is the lambskin leather of choice for small Hermès leather goods, such as Rodeo charms.
Hermès Monsieur Leather
Released in 2018, the Veau Monsieur leather, often referred to simply as Monsieur, is similar to the iconic Hermès Box Calf leather, with a smooth grain. An understated, satiny sheen becomes more pronounced over time in response to handling. Veau Monsieur has a nice “boardy” quality, retaining its shape well.
Hermès Negonda Leather
Hermès Negonda leather first appeared in 2007. Its large grain makes this leather completely resistant to water, making it a great option for large bags that are used often, such as the Garden Party.
Hermès Peau Porc Leather
Peau Porc is a lightweight and durable pigskin leather. Long out of production, Peau Porc leather handbags were surprisingly reintroduced in 2021. Just like with many other Hermès leather types, must be kept away from water as it can tarnish.
Hermès Rodeo Leather
Veau Rodeo, or simply Rodeo, is instantly recognizable because of its veining. This durable Hermès leather is 100% resistant to scratches and is often used in accessories that are worn often, like wallets.
Hermès has utilized Shearling in coats and other winter accessories, but Shearling bags are extremely rare to find! The Teddy Shearling Kelly and the Teddy Kelly Pochette Muff were limited editions, making these highly coveted items amongst Hermès collectors.
Hermès Sikkim Leather
Veau Sikkim leather is a thin and lightweight leather with little or no grain, making it very soft to the touch. Soft and pliable, handbags made of Sikkim leather have a slouchy appearance and are prone to scratches if not properly cared for.
Hermès Sombrero Leather
First introduced in 2011, this smooth and delicate calf leather has a matte finish and soft texture and could scratch easily. Sombrero is a sturdy leather that is sometimes used in rigid handbags, such as the Kelly Sellier or the Constance.
Hermès Taurillon Cristobal Leather
This Hermès leather is mostly found in men’s maroquinerie and bags. It’s supple and soft to the touch with visible grains.
Hermès Taurillon Novillo Leather
Taurillon Novillo or TN was first introduced in 2015 and is a natural leather similar to Clemence and Togo, but with a much finer grain. Its texture and lightweight resemble Epsom leather, although Epsom has a more rigid structure. Taurillon Novillo absorbs color beautifully, making it one of the best Hermès natural leathers for bright handbags.
Hermès Troika Leather
Troika is a very special and hard-to-find leather, covered in smooth, lustrous calf hair, giving it a very distinct texture. Troika is typically used in combination with other Hermès leather types.
Hermès Vache Leather
Hermès’ Vache leather has not been treated and has been left in its natural state, so you can expect a patina to form after multiple uses. This type of leather is delicate and soft and, just like a good wine, gets better with time. Vache leather is an older leather, commonly found in vintage handbags. It’s only released in two colors, Natural (pictured) and black.
Hermès Vache Hunter Leather
A stiff-yet-delicate leather, Vache Hunter is most commonly used to trim handbags, like the Herbag, but can also be found in other Hermès bags, like the Evelyne.
Hermès Vache Liegee Leather
Hermès Vache Liegee first made its appearance in 2004 to replace Ardennes leather. It is Hermès’ thickest leather, which makes any bag made with this leather hold its shape very well.
Hermès Vache Trekking Leather
This is another rare Hermès leathers. The sturdy Vache Trekking was first introduced in 2009 and is only seldom used by Hermès handbag artisans.
Hermès Velvet Leather
Also known as Nubuck, Hermès Velvet leather is crafted from male calf rawhide. This leather is finished with the calf coat on one side, with the suede trimmed to a soft, velvet-like finish. Hermès Velvet is primarily used in smaller accessories, though it can be found in some handbags, making them very precious and delicate.
Hermès Vibrato Leather
It may look like canvas or fabric at first sight, but Vibrato is actually made of strips of goatskin leather and suede. This rare and eye-catching style is resistant to scratches and a bit more expensive than other Hermès leathers.
Other Hermès Materials
In addition to Hermès leathers and exotic skins, the design house has created a number of luxurious and sturdy fabrics that are also used for crafting some handbag styles.
No longer in production, Amazonia could be mistaken for another one of Hermès leathers, but it is actually rubber-coated canvas, making it 100% water-resistant, though still capable of scratching.
Crinoline is made from horsehair and hemp, and just like canvas, is often used in conjunction with Hermès leathers. Although discontinued, bags in this material are still available in the secondary market. Crinoline’s durable and sturdy nature make it a great option for handbags that need to hold their shape, such as Jige Clutches.
Feutre is a soft and warm wool material, most commonly used, though not exclusively, in smaller accessories.
Hermès Herringbone Linen
Herringbone is the name Hermès gives to their durable linen woven into a chevron pattern with two color threads.
Introduced in 2006, this wool material with a plaid print was exclusively used in the Fall Paris collection and has since been discontinued.
Hermès Toile Chevron
Cotton canvas woven in the shape of chevrons. Not to be confused with Herringbone Linen, Toile Chevron is made with two threads: one dyed and one left natural. This is a flexible and durable material, typically used with various Hermès leather types.
Hermès Toile GM
Another one of Hermès’ toile canvas materials but with a larger weave than Hermès regular Toile canvas, hence its name GM, which stands for Grand Modèle.
Hermès Toile H Canvas
Made by combining two different color threads to form an “H”, Toile Canvas is usually combined with various Hermès leathers. Canvas is one of Hermès' most durable materials, which is additionally fairly easy to clean by an expert. Don’t try cleaning it at home.
Hermès Toile Jean
Another of Hermès cotton canvas, Toile Jean is a denim canvas, complete with the casual appeal and exceptional durability of denim.
Hermès Toile Officier
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 the Herbag lines.
Hermès Toile So H
This special and eye-catching material is a combination of canvas and wool, woven together to create an “H” design. Only used on Garden Party handbags, Toile So H is very light and durable.
Hermès craftsmen spend their entire working lives mastering their craft, working with these exquisite leathers to create wearable art. One key reason that there have been so many different Hermès leathers used in the design house’s history is that often, a specific leather is retired when the craftsmen who specialized in its use retire.
We will continue to update this comprehensive guide as new Hermès leather types and materials are introduced. In the meantime, Madison Avenue Couture is your one-stop-shop for guaranteed authentic Hermès luxury handbags and accessories in store-fresh, never worn condition. For assistance locating the bag of your dreams, our concierge service stands ready to assist you. Because, ultimately, the very best Hermès leather is the one you carry on your arm.