Know your HERMÈS

The rare and high quality leathers and colors used on Hermès Birkin and Kelly bags are among the signature features of these icons, contributing to making the bags so unique when compared to other luxury handbags. Hermès have led the way for many years when it comes to utilizing only the best and most exotic leathers and skins on their bags.

Finding the perfect leather for your Hermès bag is a challenge. There are many different leathers, exotic skins, and colors to choose from, each of which have their own characteristics and qualities. This guide is designed to help you make that all important decision with information and tips on all Hermès leathers.

In no particular order, let's begin!


Hermès Barenia Natural Leather

This leather was originally used for Hermès saddles and is without a doubt one of the finest leathers available. The high grade calf leather features a wonderfully smooth exterior with a hint of gloss which allows it to dazzle. It is usually mixed with a white top stitch and is completely scratch resistant due to the oil absorbing material, also making it water resistant and ideal for the rainy season. The only tiny drawback to this leather is that it develops patina over time.


  Hermès Canvas

A material that differs from other leathers dramatically, the canvas isn’t really a true leather. However, the durable cloth is treated and combined with several other leathers to create an exterior that can withstand almost any force of nature. This material is among the easiest to clean and is one of the longest lasting materials produced by Hermès.


Hermès Epsom Leather

Unlike other leathers which maintain the pattern from the skin they are taken from Epsom leather is an embossed leather. This means the pattern pressed into the leather isn’t the actual grain. However, this has some major benefits such as allowing the leather to hold its true shape in all circumstances and also means it is completely resistant to scratching. The material is also lightweight and cleans with a simple wipe using a damp cloth.


Hermès Togo Leather

Made from baby calf, the Togo is the half-sister to the Clemence which is made from the hide of a young bull. The Togo is lighter than the Clemence and holds it shape much easier. Many women choose the Togo for larger bags for this reason, although the decision is really a personal one if you prefer a slouchier look or a more rigid appearance. The exterior is defined by a soft pebbled finish that feels smooth yet grainy.


 Hermès Alligator Crocodile Leather

A skin that comes from the Mississippi Alligator, this leather is created by polishing the spots with agate for a Lisse finish. Easily identifiable by the scales still present on the skin, this is a rare finish on Hermès handbags and usually only found on limited edition or special order bags. Due to the difficulty in finding skins large enough, it is more common to see this skin on a size 25 Birkin.


Hermès Crocodile Porosus Shiny Skin

Another popular crocodile skin, this comes from crocodiles farmed in Australia and Southeast Asia. As with the Niloticus Shiny, the finish on this skin is designed to dazzle with continuous hours of buffing offering a stunning and head turning finish. You can identify this skin by searching for the ^ symbol somewhere on the finish. Once again, keep away from water and avoid getting it wet.


Hermès Crocodile Porosus Matte Leather

Created by using wool felt and polishing the spots off with the use of gentle machinery, the Crocodile Porosus Matte Leather is finished up with a matte touch to create an iconic look. The saltwater crocodile of Australia and Southeast Asia is much sought after and the matte finish is one of the most popular skins crafted by Hermès.


 Hermès Crocodile Niloticus Shiny Skin

Much like its sister, this skin also comes directly from Africa’s Nile River in a region of Zimbabwe. However, unlike the matte finish, this skin is treated to hours of buffing for a glossier and shiny finish. You will also find larger scales on this skin and it is also identifiable by locating two apostrophe signs somewhere in the finish near the Hermès logo. Much like its sister, be sure to keep it away from water.


Hermès Crocodile Niloticus Matte Skin

Coming directly from Africa’s Nile River in a region of Zimbabwe, this skin offers a matte finish and a more distinct pattern. The highly sought after larger scales on this skin makes it an iconic choice in the fashion industry. It is possible to identify your bag as being made from Niloticus skin by locating two apostrophe signs somewhere on the finish near the Hermès logo. Make sure to keep this skin away from water as wet can cause permanent damage.


Hermès Natural Lizard Leather

First making its appearance during the 2007 Fall/Winter collection, Lizard Leather has quickly become a favorite among Hermès lovers. This skin is extremely valuable and rare and is processed as little as possible to maintain its natural texture. It is common to find bags with a combination of Lizard Leather and other exotic skins due to the rarity of this particular material.


Hermès Varanus Niloticus (Lizard) Leather Skin

Available in both matte and lisse finishes, this is one of the higher maintenance, yet rewarding, leather skins. The small lizard scales on the bag offer a shiny appearance, even on the matte finish, and provide a grainy feel to the touch. However, the scales are extremely delicate and need protection from water and tarnishing. They also have a tendency to dry out and consistent maintenance is required for the upkeep of the exterior.



  • Only the finest leathers and exotic skins are used to craft each Hermès bag. All stitching on the leather is done by hand, with every minute detail considered during the process.
  • An authentic quality Hermès bag will feature very few, or no, bulges in the leather or skin. It will sit upright on its own accord and offer a smooth silhouette.
  • Tri-color and exotic skin marriage bags are among the rarest Birkins and Kellys.
  • The leather strap at the front of the bag will always have clean edges.

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