Hermès is known for, among other things, its use of fine leathers, and it offers more varieties than any other major bag brand on the planet. Figuring out what all the names mean, how those leathers differ and which one might be the best for you can be a daunting task for even those moderately well-versed in the ways of Hermès. For newbies, I’m sure it seems possible. We’re here to help.

Below, we’ve catalogued as many of Hermès’s current handbag leathers as we could find, complete with a close-up for each and notes on texture, weight and durability when available. Because Hermès likes to play things close to the vest, we might have missed something; if so, please let us know in the comments.

Barenia Natural

Originally used for Hermès saddles, Barenia is a smooth calfskin that is resistant to both scratches and rain.

Hermes-Barenia-Natural-Leather-Closeup-Swatch

Box Calf

Box calf is smooth and glossy, and although it is susceptible to scratches, they can be buffed into the leather’s texture over time. Often found in vintage bags and neutral colors, but still actively produced today. Leave it at home on rainy days.

Hermes-Box-Calf-Leather-Closeup-Swatch

Buffalo

A pebbled, soft, water-resistant leather made from the hides of water buffalo. Dye tends to gather at the center of the pebbles, sometimes resulting in a spotted appearance.

Hermes-Buffalo-Leather-Closeup-Swatch

Chamonix

A matte counterpart to box calf that does not scratch easily. It is not, however, water-resistant.

Hermes-Chamonix-Leather-Closeup-Swatch

Chevre de Coromandel

Soft, lightweight, scratch-resistant, long-lasting goat leather.

Hermes-Chevre-de-Coromandel-Leather-Closeup-Swatch

Chevre Mysore

Similar to Chevre de Coromandel, but with a smaller, more visible grained texture.

Hermes-Chevre-Mysore-Leather-Closeup-Swatch

Clemence

Clemence, one of Hermès’s most popular leathers, is made from the hides of baby bulls. It’s matte, flat-grained, soft and heavy, which gives otherwise structured bags a slouchier, more casual look. Resistant to scratches, but may blister when exposed to rain.

Hermes-Clemence-Leather-Closeup-Swatch

Doblis Suede

Traditional suede; scratches can be buffed out, but it should be kept away from moisture.

Hermes-Doblis-Suede-Closeup-Swatch

Epsom

Popular stamped-grain leather that is lightweight, durable and easily cared for. Not particularly soft.

Hermes-Epsom-Leather-Closeup-Swatch

Evercalf

Similar in appearance and behavior to Box Calf, but softer to the touch.

Hermes-Evercalf-Leather-Closeup-Swatch

Evergrain

A version of Evercalf with a finely grained stamped texture. Soft to the touch, and scratches are easily rubbed away.

Hermes-Evergrain-Leather-Closeup-Swatch

Fjord

Soft, heavy, flat-grained matte cowhide which is very durable, scratch-resistant and water-resistant. From a distance, the leather often looks like it has vertical veins running through it.

Hermes-Fjord-Leather-Closeup-Swatch

Lizard

Lizard is an exotic leather made from the hides of African water monitors. The brand’s most delicate leather and prone to drying out if not cared for properly. The scales add up to a glossy finish; because of the size of the animals, lizard is most commonly found in accessories and smaller handbags.

Hermes-Lizard-Closeup-Swatch

Matte Alligator

Delicate and very expensive. Hermès uses alligators farmed in Florida, and a matte bag usually costs a bit more than a shiny one, although alligator usually costs less than crocodile overall. Should be kept away from water.

Hermes-Matte-Alligator-Closeup-Swatch

Shiny (Lisse) Alligator

Delicate, but a shiny finish on the small alligator scales can help disguise imperfections. Alligator is visually distinguishable from crocodile because it lacks the dot-sized “pores” that mark every crocodile scale. Should be kept away from water.

Hermes-Shiny-Alligator-Closeup

Matte Niloticus Crocodile

Niloticus crocodiles come from the Nile region of Zimbabwe. As with other exotics, matte Nilo is more expensive than its shiny counterpart. Less expensive than Porosus Crocodile. In general, crocodile is somewhat durable, but it should be kept away from water to prevent water spots that do not fade.

Hermes-Matte-Nilo-Crocodile-Closeup-Swatch

Shiny Niloticus Crocodile

The glossier version of matte nilo. Should be kept away from water.

Hermes-Shiny-Nilo-Crocodile-Closeup-Swatch

Matte Porosus Crocodile

Sourced from crocodiles farmed in Australia. Matte is more expensive than shiny, and Porosus is generally more expensive than Nilo, making Matte Porosus Croc Hermès’s most expensive leather. Should be kept away from water to prevent non-fading water marks.

Hermes-Matte-Porosus-Crocodile-Closeup-Swatch

Shiny Porosus Crocodile

The glossier, slightly less expensive counterpart to Matte Porosus. Should be kept away from water.

Hermes-Shiny-Porosus-Crocodile-Swatch-Closeup

Ostrich

Ostrich leather is the most durable exotic Hermès uses and is water-resistant, but will darken over time with exposure to skin oils.

Hermes-Ostrich-Leather-Swatch-Closeup

Sikkim

Very soft and buttery; similar to Swift leather, but thinner and lighter. Susceptible to scratches.

Hermes-Sikkim-Leather-Swatch-Closeup

Sombrero

Soft, smooth, relatively new calf leather with a matte finish. Susceptible to scratches.

Hermes-Sombrero-Calfskin-Leather-Closeup-Swatch

Swift

Called Gulliver in bags manufactured before 1999. Swift is soft and fine-grained, and it picks up bright dyes particularly well. Scratches easily, but most can be rubbed out.

Hermes-Swift-Leather-Swatch-Closeup

Tadelakt

A smooth, grain-free, semi-glossy calfskin. Very similar to Box Calf, but softer. Most commonly found in small leather goods, but sometimes also used for small bags.

Hermes-Tadelakt-Leather-Closeup-Swatch

Taurillon Cristobal

Soft, visibly grained and most commonly found in men’s leather goods.

Hermes-Taurillon-Cristobal-Leather-Closeup-Swatch

Togo

Togo is the most popular leather for Birkins. It’s fine-grained, scratch-resistant baby calfskin that is relatively lightweight but still holds its shape.

Hermes-Togo-Leather-Swatch-Closeup

Vache Liegee

Stiff, structured, durable cowhide with a natural grain and a touch of sheen. It is Hermès’s thickest leather.

Hermes-Vache-Liegee-Leather-Swatch-Closeup

Vache Naturelle

Smooth, untreated cowhide leather that is very delicate and darkens to a patina with time and use.

Hermes-Vache-Naturelle-Leather-Closeup-Swatch
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lavinia
lavinia
7 years ago

thank you for this very interesting post!!!

Bianca Mosca
7 years ago

Niloticus is the “cheapest” crocodile and comes mostly from farms in Zimbabwe where it’s sometimes difficult to guarantee ethical standards. Porosus, is as you say, more expensive than Niloticus and has a much more luxurious appearance and feel than Niloticus. Alligator is probably the best material overall as it is much more durable than both crocodile types and has an appearance comparable to Porosus. Another factor in favour of Alligator is that it comes mainly from US farms with high standards of animal husbandry and government oversight.

Naleesha
Naleesha
7 years ago
Reply to  Bianca Mosca

The Porosus is sourced from Australia, which has even higher standards and ethics than the U.S.

Bianca Mosca
7 years ago
Reply to  Naleesha

I’m not sure Mr. Obama would agree with that.

W S M
W S M
7 years ago
Reply to  Naleesha

I believe it was a Texan farm that was at the center of the recent crocodile skin controversy?

Celeste
Celeste
7 years ago

Wow! there’s a lot! Before i thought the leathers are only box, epsom, clemence, togo, swift and the exotics. Very informative. Thank You!

JC
JC
7 years ago

wow!!! thank you for the awesome post.

Alexis Frost
Alexis Frost
7 years ago

It’d be nice if you could also share your knowledge on discontinued Hermes leathers like Vache Ardennes. Thank you.

gt66
gt66
7 years ago

thanks for the info. I have been trying to figure this out for weeks.

Mary Smith
Mary Smith
7 years ago

The picture for “clemence” looks like ostrich. Is that an error or is that correct?

Miss
Miss
7 years ago

Simply lovely post????

kenzastudio
7 years ago

Great post, thank u! How I would love to get my hands on all those leathers, for a more tactile compare and contrast experience.

JC
JC
7 years ago

Isn’t it ironic that crocodile and alligator should be “kept away from water”??!!

AT
AT
7 years ago
Reply to  JC

ITA!! LOL.

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