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GUIDE OF HERMES’ LEATHERS AND MATERIALS
We have put together a simple guide of the materials commonly used by Hermes for their bags.
Ardennes: ( Known as “Vachette Grainee des Ardennes”) Ardennes was a very durable leather that is able to resist scratches better than other leathers from Hermes, it was discontinued but it is similar to the currently used one called “Vache Liegee”. It is textured but the grain is not as deep as other popular leathers like Togo. It is almost glossy but with a degree of sheen. Some people say bags made out of Ardennes leather can be worn regularly because of its durability.
Barenia: (Called Traditional Barenia or “Heritage” barenia) High quality Calf leather tanned with a very intricate process, Hermes originally used it for saddles. Barenia is the leather commonly used in natural/tan/gold colored pieces (typically with white stitching). It is very soft, it barely has any texture to it (very smooth), it is matte, it scratches very easily and it is so soft that products made out of it can lose its shape/structure after a while. One of the most delicate leathers from Hermes as far as how easily it can get damaged. It is famous for its particular smell/fragrance. It is one of the most expensive regular leathers (non exotic) Hermes uses.
Barenia Fauborg: High quality Calf leather with a similar tanning to the traditional Barenia but with a slight texture that makes it more durable and a little more scratch resistant, the texture makes it a little similar to Clemence or Togo. It is very soft and has a similar feel and a similar smell to the traditional Barenia. Used for natural colored pieces as well as black pieces, typically using white stitching for constrast.
Box Calf: A leather named after an English shoe crafstman from the 19th century named Joseph Box. A leather commonly used in high quality men’s shoes, used by Hermes in their first collections of bags so most of the vintage Hermes bags are made out of Box Calf. It is what is called a chrome-tanned leather (many others are vegetable tanned), the process allows for some of the features of the leather to be visible even after tanning plus it gives it a sheen that varies depending on how the light hits it, from some angles it looks glossy and from some it looks satin or matte. It is a stiff and rigid leather compared to other leathers used by Hermes. Earlier versions of it were more susceptible to damage by water, heat and scratching, more modern versions are more resistant to damage, still the leather is prone to damage when exposed to water. It was discontinued a while ago.
Buffalo: ( Called “Buffle” as well) A thick, grainy leather known for its durability, it is said it is even flame resistant. Soft and supple yet quite resistant to tears and scratches, it is one of the most durable leathers Hermes has used for bags. This leather is created from individual animals so each piece is almost a one of a kind (in case of needing a match it would be hard to match it), in time the leather color changes giving it a very particular character. This leather requires yearly conditioning.
Buffalo Dalmatian: (Also Known as “Buffalo Skipper” or “Buffle Dalmatian” or “Buffle Skipper”) A leather made from water Buffalos, it has a grainy texture and it has spots due to a process that includes 2 different dyes. It was offered in black and white and brown reddish tones. It is a very durable leather that is very good at resisting water and scratches. It is no longer made.
Buffalo Gala: (Also known as “Buffle Gala”) Leather only used for small leather goods (not for bags), it is made from water Buffalos and it has a medium grain and is very soft.
Buffalo Sindhu: Made from water Buffalo, a very durable leather with small, tight graining. Very durable and resistant to water and scratches. Hermes has only used it for a few bag lines, the most common use of it is for the Garden Party line of bags, used both for entire bags or for handles in wool or toile bags.
Butler: A natural colored leather often confused with Barenia, Butler leather is not as common as Barenia, it is very smooth and the graining is minimal, reminiscent to Tadelakt leather. Just as Barenia, it is very easy to scratch it and get scuff marks on it although they can be buffed out. Due to the fact that it is natural and untreated over time it develops a sort of patina that gives it character.
Chamonix: A variant of the Box Calf leather but with a matte finish. It is a very smooth leather, and unlike Box Calf, Chamonix is more resistant to scratches and if it scratches the marks can be buffed out. This leather is NOT water resistant and on the contrary, if it gets exposed to water it will get permanently stained.
Chevre de Coromandel: Made from male mountain Goats, it is very thick but soft and light, it is very grainy but the grains are small, tight and shallow, it almost looks wrinkly. It is very good at resisting scratches and water.
Chevre Mysore: Made from Goat, similar to Chevre de Coromandel but more refined. It is just as grainy and wrinkly but the grains are larger in size. Just as the other Chevre it is very good at resisting scratches and water and it is very soft but light.
Clemence: (Officially called “Veau Taurillon Clemence” or “Taurillon Clemence” but commonly called Clemence). One of the most common leathers in high-end Hermes bags. A calf leather that has been used by Hermes since the 80’s. It is grainy but without veins, it is a natural leather similar to Togo (but smoother than Togo). It is very soft but heavy, the combination of the weight and how soft it is makes it slouch. It is very durable, due to its thickness some of the cracks it generates over time can be refurbished. Not good around water, water can damage it.
Country: (Officially called “Vache Country”) Made from female adult cows, with a large and very shallow grain and it is very firm. It is very durable. Used mostly the Garden Party bag line.
Courchevel: (Officially named “Graine Courchevel”) Made from male calf, it has a shallow and even grain (stamped, not a natural grain), it has some gloss to it, light but very durable, it resists water, scratches and stains very well. It was discontinued in 2004 and replaced by “Epsom “ leather.
Derma: (Officially named “Veau Derma”) Made from Male calf hide, it is processed until achieving a very thin, smooth and soft leather, it has a very faint texture to it and a matte finish. Used in Hermes’ Caravan Bags.
Doblis: (Officially called “Veau Doblis” known ad Doblis Suede), Calf Suede, Hermes uses it for a very limited number of items. As other high-end suede it is velvety, soft and very luxurious but it requires to handle it with extreme care because it can get scratched, marked and scuffed very easily and water can severely damage it.
Epsom: (The replacement for Courchevel leather) Epsom is one of the most popular leathers used by Hermes. Used mostly in entry-level Hermes high-end bags, it has an artificial texture simulating a small and shallow grain achieved via heat-pressing. The leather is very rigid and durable, one of the leathers from Hermes requiring the least maintenance. It rigidity helps to maintain the shape of the bag with minimal slouching or sagging and it also helps to protect against scratches and scuff marks.
Evercalf: A very smooth leather similar to Box Calf but softer. It has almost no grain to it, it has a sheen to it making it more matte than Box Calf, it is durable and good at resisting scratches.
Evercolor: Introduced in 2012, made from male calf, initially just for small leather goods but it has become popular for some bag lines. It is soft and supple, it has a very faint grain artificially made via hard-pressing, it has a little sheen to it making it almost satin, this leather is used for bright and vibrant colors. It is fairly durable and resistant.
Evergrain: Evergrain is from the same family as Evercalf, the main difference is one is smooth and the other one has a texture. Evergrain’s texture is a shallow grain with a crackled pattern achieved via embossing-pressing. It stiff in structure but soft to the touch, due to the texture it is softer than Evercalf but more prone to scratches
Fjord: Leather made from adult bulls. It is one of the heaviest leathers Hermes uses, used typically for larger bags. It has a flat wide grain similar to Togo and Clemence, it is supple and soft , the thickness and heaviness of it make it very durable, scratch resistant and waterproof. It has a matte look to it.
Grain d’H: (Officially named “ Veau Grain d’H”) made from male calf, it has an artificial texture pressed with a pattern of the Hermes “H” monogram. The texture makes it soft to the touch and givesit good resistance to scratches. It has a slight sheen to it.
Grizzly Suede: (Oficcially named “Veau Grizzly”) A male calf raw hide, a suede type commonly known as as “Nubuck”, buffed on the grain side to show some of the fibers as part of the texture. This type of suede is extremely sensitive to water and damages easily so it requires special care.
Gulliver: (Oficially named “Veau Gulliver”) A very soft calf leather with a very fine graining/texture. It is the same as Swift but Swift is the new name, it was discontinued in 1999 as “Gulliver”. It was brought back in 2005 under the name “Swift”. This leather is more fragile and less durable /resistant than many other leathers from Hermes.
Jonathan: (Officially named “veau Jonathan”) a calf leather, it has a fine grain similar to swift and it is smooth and soft, soothing to the touch, but it is stiffer than swift, similar in stiffness to box calf which makes it a very good leather for bags requiring structural rigidity. It has a light sheen to it giving it a soft glow.
Madame: (Oficially named “veau Madame”) A Calf leather with a synthetic texture (hard-pressed), similar to Epsom but the grain is finer. It is soft to the touch and supple. Hermes uses it mostly for small leather goods and a few Birkin and Kelly selliers.
Maurice: A leather from bull calf, slightly similar to Clemence but with smaller and well defined grain. It is supple and thick, it has a little more structure than Clemence.
Milo: A lambskin leather used mostly for small leather charms like the Rodeo and the Shopping bag charm.
Monsieur: (Oficially named “Veau Monsieur”) A calf lether that is similar in stiffness to Box Calf but it has a smooth grain, it has a sheen (almost satin) that becomes a little more glossy with wear.
Negonda: Made from male calf, it has big grains and it is stiff, which makes for great leather for items that will be used often. It is matte and it has a dry feeling to the touch, it is good at resisting water. Used mostly for the Garden Party line.
Peau Porc: A pigskin leather, very lightweight and with dotted pore patterns. It was used a very long time ago and brought back recently. Some experts claim it is not good at resisting water and it stains easily while owners of bags with that leather say they do not have problems with their bags handling water and wearing them thoroughly anywhere (we would recommend before risking it applying a little water on a spot that is not visible outside and see the reaction, or side with caution and jut prevent exposing it to water).
Rodeo: (Oficially named “veau Rodeo”) A calf leather that is very easy to distinguish due to its texture, instead of graining it has what looks like deep wrinkles or veining, due to the deep texture it is very durable and resistant to water and scratches. Hermes uses this leather mostly for accessories that will be used often and thoroughly.
Shearling: The skin of a lamb but with the wool left on it. This material is more commonly seen in heavy coats, parkas, etc.. Hermes has used it for special editions of Kelly bags (like the “Teddy Shearling Kelly” and the “Teddy Kelly Pochette”).
Sikkim: (Oficially named “veau Sikkim”) Leather from bull calf, it is very light, with little graining/texture and sheen. It is very soft and slouches. It requires to wear it with care to prevent scratching it. Used for Bolide, Double Sens totes and some Kelly bags.
Sombrero: (Oficially named “veau Sombrero”) Made from male Calf, very smooth with almost no grain, matte finish and it is very stiff which makes it a good choice for rigid bags. It scratches easily. Used commonly in male bags and sometimes for Constance and Kelly Sellier bags.
Swift: (Previuosly named “Veau Gulliver” or “Gulliver”) A very soft calf leather with a very fine graining/texture. It is the same as Gullivere but Swift is the new name, it was discontinued in 1999 as “Gulliver”. It was brought back in 2005 under the name “Swift”. This leather is more fragile and less durable /resistant than many other leathers from Hermes.
Tadelakt: (Oficially named “veau Tadelakt”) Made gfrom male Calf, very similar to Box Calf, it is very smooth with almost no graining, it has a glossy appearance. It is very delicate and easy to scratch and it can develop blisters when exposed to water. It is stiff so it is used for rigid bags as well as some leather accessories.
Taurillon Cristobal: Calf leather with mid size graining, supple and soft, used mostly for men’s leather accessories.
Taurillon Novillo: Calf leather that is very light, it has a natural graining that is similar to Clemence and Togo but smaller, the lightness and softness to the touch is similar to Epsom, it is rigid but less so than Epsom. Used for bags with bright colors.
Togo: (Officially named “Veu Togo”), Made from baby male Calf, in use since 1997, it has a naturally grained texture with veining, it is matte, Although Togo leather is very soft to the touch and supple it still has excellent rigidity, holding its shape well. It is very durable, almost scratch resistant and very good at resisting water. Due to all the characteristics of this leather it is one of the most popular leathers for Hermes’ high end bags, especially the larger ones.
Troika: Made from unborn male calf, leather with unprocessed short calf hair, the short hairs are smooth and lustrous. It is a very exotic material used only in combination with other leathers and only for special editions.
Vache Naturelle: (Known simply as “Vache”) Untreated Cow leather common in vintage bags. Thick and stiff but smooth to the touch. Bags made with this leather retain their structure well. Naturally colored as Barenia but lighter color. It develops a darker honey colored patina over time.
Vache Country: Made from adult cow, similar to Negonda, it is very thick and soft, it has a very large grain but it is more structured and heavier than Negonda, mostly used in the Garden Party line.
Vache Hunter: Made from adult cow, mainly used for trim, not for the body of bags. Very stiff and due to the natural finish it scratches very easily.
Vache Liegee: Made from adult cow, unprocessed, the replacement for “Ardennes”, it is the thickest leather Hermes uses. It is very rigid but soft to the touch. Its rigidity makes bags made of it keep their shape very well with minimal slouching.
Vache Trekking: Made from adult male cow, it has a fine pressed grain and it is stiff. It is very rare and mostly used on the Garden Party line.
Veau Grain Lisse: (Known as “VGL”) It is a thin and glossy leather with an artificially pressed grain (stamped) it has good resistance to scratches and water. It is no longer made, it was discontinued in 2003.
Velour Suede: (Named “Veau Velours”), made from Calf leather, similar to Suede (or in the case of Hermes “Doblis”) but the main difference is suede is the inside of a leather hide sanded to have a rough satin colored finish and velvet suede is done from the outside part of the leather hide, sanded as well and with a rough and satin like finish. It is what is also called “Nubuck”. Very delicate and easy to stain, easy to damage with water as well. It requires special care and regular maintenance. Hermes uses it in combination with leathers or by itself for small accessories.
Vibrato: Made from mountain goat, it give the impression of being a synthetic fabric material but it actually is made out of plies of mountain goat leathers and suede stacked. The material is durable but it is hard to maintain. Hermes used to sell Vibrato items accompanied by an eraser to clean the material. It is no longer made and pieces made from this material are considered exotic.
Volynka Russian: Hermes wanted to recreate a special kind of Russian leather thought to be lost for good. They found some of it well preserved, recovered from a shipwreck (after 200 years under water). They used those hides as a sample to try to recreate them. It took them 6 years to learn how to recreate that leather, they developed a process to emulate it. The process involves preserving the hides in salt, then they receive a bath of lime and fresh water to then be dried out, then they spend five months soaked in a secret solution. The final product is a leather that is remarkably waterproof, it has a very peculiar tan to it and is very aromatic. The leather is used only in 3 bags from Hermes (Bolide Voyage, Haut à courroies, Plume voyage).
HERMES EXOTIC SKINS
Crocodile: Crocodile comes in several varieties, by origin it can be ”Niloticus” from the Nile River in Zimbabwe or “Porosus” from Hermes’ crocodile farms in Australia. And based on the finish it can be “Lisse” (shiny) or Matte, and Himalayan, which has a special chemical treatment and a couple of dyes to give it a gradient of colors going from ivory to tones of grey or brown.
An older kind of Crocodile leather called “Caiman Crocodile” sourced from south America is no longer used by Hermes but it can be found in vintage bags. It was replaced by the other two kinds mostly due to the inability to source quality hides of Caiman Crocodiles.
Crocodile Leathers/Skins are rigid and hold shape very well but they can easily get damaged by water exposure (they get blistered) and they can scratch easily. Crocodile bags are the most expensive bags from Hermes.
Alligator (Alligator Mississippiensis): Skin sourced from Alligators from the Mississippi river in the USA (from farms located in Texas and Louisiana). Offered in Matter or Glossy (“Lisse”). Alligator skin has bigger scales than those of Porosus Crocodiles and similar to those in Niloticus Crocodiles. The skin is thicker and tougher than Crocodile, more resistant to scratches. Alligator skin gets easily damaged (blistered) when exposed to water just as Crocodile. Alligator bags are among the most expensive from Hermes.
Lizard: There is two kinds of Lizard, “Varanus Niloticus” (Natural Lizard) and “Varanus Salvator” (Natural Lizard). Varanus Niloticus is a skin from a species of Monitor from the Nile river, it has small and uniform scales. Varanus Salvator (known also as “Ombre Lizard”) is a water Monitor from South Asia, it has small circular scales and ring patterns. Both lizard skins are very high maintenance and fregile, they dry out and they require to be conditioned often. Lizard skins are used only for small leather goods and small bags. They are very exotic and expensive.
Ostrich: (Named “Autruche”) Skin from Ostriches from Australia and South Africa. Ostrich skin is very easy to distinguish due to the raised dots (from the ostrich’s feather root marks). Ostrich skin is very durable and strong, it resists water very well it is also rigid so bags made with it do not slouch too much. It tends to change color a little bit with use and over time (it gets darker with skin contact and lighter when exposed to the sun).
HERMES NON-LEATHERS & SYNTHETIC MATERIALS
Amazonia: A canvas material coated in a rubber type layer. It is very difficult to maintain and if it is not stored properly it can even peel off and has no repair. This material is no longer made and bags using it are very fragile.
Canvas: A weaved cotton cloth, very durable, relatively easy to maintain and resists friction well, although canvas can stain easily and stains can be hard to remove, use a professional to clean it.
Crinoline: Similar to Canvas, Crinoline is a woven material made out of a combination of Hemp and Horse hair. The hairs are weaved and can get trapped in things or if too dry they will fall off so the material will require special care and to store it properly. Plus it is advisable to not wear jewelry that can entangle with it and damage it. Crinoline is no longer made by Hermes. It is used in combination with leathers (for trim and handles). An exotic material nowadays.
Feutre: A wool cloth made in a wavy pattern mixing fibers of different colors (wool felt). It is thick and very soft. Wool felt is typically very durable, easy to maintain and some case seven washable.
Hermes Lainage: A wool cloth with a plaid pattern (similar to “Karo” wool), very light warm and durable.
Herringbone Linen: A Linen cloth woven with a chevron pattern with two contrasting colors. Hermes uses it for lining for some of their bags and for the dustbags included with some bags.
Silk: Made from mulberry moth cocoons, the hems are hand-rolled and hand-stitched. Hermes uses Silk for limited edition bags and show pieces. Their silk is of the highest grade chosen for thickness and strength.
Toile H: A woven cotton cloth/canvas, weaved with contrasting colors and making an “H” pattern in the threads. Very durable, relatively easy to maintain and resists friction well, although canvas can stain easily and stains can be hard to remove, use a professional to clean it.
Toile Ash Vash: A toile canvas with Hermes themed designs weaved to it. As other canvas cloths it is very durable and easy to maintain but if stained take it to a professional to clean.
Toile Chevron: A woven cotton cloth/canvas, weaved with contrasting colors and making “V” patterns called Chevrons. Very durable, relatively easy to maintain and resists friction well, although canvas can stain easily and stains can be hard to remove, use a professional to clean it.
Toile GM: (actual name is “Toile Gran Modele”) A woven cotton cloth/canvas, weaved with contrasting colors and a checkered pattern. The weave is bigger and rougher than the traditional toile/canvas. Very durable, relatively easy to maintain and resists friction well, although canvas can stain easily and stains can be hard to remove, use a professional to clean it.
Toile Jean: Basically a canvas made out of denim. Very durable, it can stain easily and needs to be cleaned by a professional.
Toile Officier: A woven cotton cloth/canvas, weaved with thin single color threads. Very durable, relatively easy to maintain and resists friction well, although canvas can stain easily and stains can be hard to remove, use a professional to clean it.
Toile Riga: A woven cotton cloth/canvas, weaved with contrasting colored threads making stripe patterns from dots. Very durable, relatively easy to maintain and resists friction well, although canvas can stain easily and stains can be hard to remove, use a professional to clean it.
Toile So H: A woven combination of cotton canvas and wool weaved with contrasting colored threads making patterns of the Hermes “H” in intricate and stylish deigns. Durable, but it is more delicate and requires more maintenance than regular toile/canvas. It can stain easily and stains can be hard to remove, use a professional to clean it.
Wicker/Straw: Made out of weaved straw of a type of Willow called “Osier”. Hermes cuts Osier Willow shoots and goes to several processes to turn them into flexible wicker fibers. Wicker is a very durable and resistant material and it does not require much maintenance, however, Hermes combines it with leathers that are very sensitive (like Barenia) so their limited edition bags using wicker will be delicate, easy to scratch and stain (the leather) and will require maintenance. Hermes has used wicker in the past for their “Picnic” series.