Chanel Leathers & Materials Full Guide. Ranked From Best to Worst

Check out our full guide on the best and worst Chanel leathers. We also give you the 101 of the other materials Chanel routinely uses such as tweet and velvet – so you can be as informed as possible

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Chanel Leather Types

Most Chanel bags are made out of regular leather (aka not exotic leathers). The most popular and often used Chanel leathers are : caviar, lambskin and calfskin. Read on to find out the characteristics and most importantly, the pros and cons of each leather.

Caviar Leather

Chanel’s caviar leather refers to its pebbly leather. It’s basically calfskin with a top coat that gives that grainy texture.

The advantage of Chanel caviar leather is that it’s more durable than other leather types, especially lambskin. The grainy texture makes the bag virtually scratch proof and you can be more relaxed should you be caught in a light rain with a caviar piece.

Caviar bags also appear more structured as they slouch less than the lambskin counterparts. The quilts on the Classic Flaps also seem to age better and look less deflated with age.

The disadvantages of Chanel’s caviar leather are:

  • some people consider caviar as more casual / less elegant than lambskin
  • if you do get a scratch, it’s harder to buff it out
  • some see it as a less luxurious material. Truth be told, Chanel could get away with using a less qualitative leather underneath the caviar, since it’s going to be coated anyways.

In our opinion, the advantages of caviar far outweigh the disadvantages – so we’re putting caviar as the best Chanel leather

Lambskin Leather

Lambskin leather is quintessential Chanel. It’s beautiful and buttery soft and probably what you think about when you picture a luxurious, designer bag. It also makes your bags look dressier, if we compare it with caviar leather.

As beautiful as Chanel’s lambskin is, it has some important cons:

  • delicate leather
  • prone to scratches and corner wear. Although, keep in mind that you can buff out superficial scratches
  • you need to be very careful with storing your lambskin bags. For example, if you store your lambskin bag without using chain protection, it might leave a mark
  • you need to be careful in the rain. Even a few drops of water can cause damage, so don’t forget to quickly wipe it!
  • easier to get color transfer, especially for lightly colored bags

Calfskin & Aged Calfskin

If you like the smooth texture of lambskin and the durability of caviar, you might really enjoy Chanel’s calfskin. Truly a great Chanel leather, calfskin comes from the hide of a calf and is soft and had a very fine grain and almost invisible pores.

In addition to regular calf leather, Chanel also uses aged calfskin. As the name suggest, aged calfskin makes the bags look worn (but in a nice way). The advantage of aged calfskin is that, because it already looks worn you don’t need to worry about scratches or signs of wear. The Chanel Reissue typically comes in aged calfskin.

Calfskin is the perfect Chanel leather for those looking for both luxurious leather and durability. When talking about Chanel calfskin vs caviar leather it’s important to note that caviar is still more scratch resistant. However, both materials are very durable, so if you prefer the smoother look calfskin is a great choice.

Goatskin

Goatskin got the spotlight when Chanel starting using it for the Chanel 19 bag. If you’re not closely familiar with leather types, you might even confuse goatskin with lambskin – however there are a few differences.

Goatskin is slightly more matte than lamb and it’s also more durable and less prone to scratches. It’s still a smooth leather, so it’s by no means indestructible.

If we compare it to calfskin, it has the same tensile strength , but its much softer and lighter.

Indeed, goatskin is one of our favorite Chanel leathers – the only con is that is not used on more handbags. We’d love to see a version of the Classic Flap in goatskin.

Deerskin

Quite a rare Chanel leather, deerskin, or Cerf in French is a very durable and hardwearing leather. Deerskin is one of the only leathers that you don’t need to worry about if you get it wet. This kind of leather can get wet without any issues.

As durable and water resistant deerskin might be, Chanel hardly uses it – so it’s very hard to get a bag in this leather. One of the reasons why the Maison is not using deerskin is that is heavier than similar skins.

Patent

We saved the worst for last. It’s not that patent leather is not beautiful and special, because it is – it just has too many issues.

Basically patent leather is a type of coated leather that has a glossy, shiny, polished finish. The nice thing about patent Chanel bags is that due to their glossiness, they do stand out and are very dressy.

However the issues with patent bags are:

  • they are prone to staining
  • they are prone so discoloration
  • you cannot repair cracks and creases in the bag
  • they can (and most likely will) become sticky with time, especially if you live in a humid climate

Due to all these issues, we advise you to stay away from this Chanel leather! If you do end up buying a patent bag, make sure to clean it regularly and to store it in a dry, cool place.

Which Chanel Leather Is Best?

When thinking of which Chanel leather is most durable, we love caviar the most – it’s carefree and long lasting.

However, lambskin also has a special place in our hearts, just because of how luxurious it feels. A bag that cost so much should feel exactly like lambskin does.

For other bags we love both calfskin and goatskin – they are both great options for those wanting durability without sacrificing looks.

At the other end of the scale we have out least favorite Chanel leather: the patent. Until technology makes this type of leather repairable (not sure if that’s possible), we advise you to stay clear of patent!

Chanel Exotic Leather Types

Chanel has discontinued the use of exotic leather in 2018, due to how hard it is to source these materials ethically. However, you can still find exotic leather Chanel bags on the pre-loved market. You need to know that exotic leathers are much more fragile and you need to be mindful when wearing exotic leather bags. Here are the most popular Chanel exotic leathers:

Python

Python is the most common and durable snake leather. Also, compared with other exotic skins, python is relatively hard wearing. It won’t scratch easily and it’s very lightweight. One con is that you need to protect your python bags from water or excessive moisture. Another thing to be aware of is to store your python bags properly, if you leave them exposed to the sun the scales might dry out and change color. Make sure the bags can ‘breathe’, don’t store them in boxes, just in their dust bags.

Alligator

Alligator leather has a very interesting pattern that is very alluring to many. It’s definitely a prestigious leather – but as with other exotic leathers, it’s relatively hard to take care of. Alligator leather is sensitive to both water and the sun. If your bag gets wet it’s important to wipe it dry as soon as possible. You also need to avoid prolonged periods of your alligator bags in the sun – the leather can dry out and crack which is not repairable.

Lizard

You might think that lizard skins will have similar issues as snake skin, but we’re here to reassure you. Lizard skin is actually fairly water proof and even (slightly) stain proof. This is due to a lubricated membrane beneath the scales that offer some protection. The bad thing is that if that membrane dries off it’s possible for the lizard scales to fall out.

It’s important to gently clean your Chanel lizard bag often and gently and always in the direction of the scales (so the bag feels smooth when you’re cleaning it)!

Ostrich

Ostrich skin is fairly durable and strong if we compare it with other exotics. It’s also not that sensitive to water, and you can simply wipe it dry without worrying too much. Since there are no scales you don’t need to worry about them drying off and falling, and compared with alligator, you don’t need to worry about the leather cracking if it lacks moisture.

The main issue with ostrich skin is that it can darken from contact with your hands. For example, for an ostrich Chanel Classic flap you’ll probably see darkening on the “tongue” that you often touch when opening the bag.

Stingray

Since the stingray is a marine animal, stingray leather is naturally waterproof. You might be surprised to find out that stingray is one of the toughest skins available. It also doesn’t stain easily and it’s fairly scratch and scuff proof. The reason for it is that it is covered by calcium-rich bubbles  that resist scratching.

Stingray leather is notoriously hard to work with for artisans – some users have complained that their Chanel bags have some waves or ripples and it’s not completely flat.

Which Chanel Exotic Leather Is The Best?

Stingray is the most durable Chanel exotic leather together with ostrich. Python, alligator and lizard can have some issues with dryness and the scales falling out or the alligator leather cracking. Ultimately, all of the exotic leathers have their own unique look, so it’s down of what kind of aesthetic you prefer.

Chanel Materials

Tweed

Together with lambskin and caviar, tweed is the most quintessential Chanel material. Tweed is made from tightly woven wool. Chanel often uses different colors and even sparkling threads in their tweed bags and ready to wear. Tweed first became popular in the 1840‘s in Scotland and Ireland and Coco Chanel first used tweed in 1925, 15 years after launching.

Tweed bags are definitely beautiful, soft and flexible. Luckily, Chanel releases new tweed bags and clothing each season, so you do have plenty of tweed options to choose from.

The main con of tweed is that because of its woven nature, it is prone to snagging. Unfortunately, you cannot repair a tweed bag if that happens – so you need to be extra careful. Compared to leather, tweed bags are harder to clean and might show more wear, especially if you choose a lighter color. Furthermore, if you prefer more structured bags, you might want to stay away from tweed, as it will naturally slouch.

Canvas

Mostly seen on the Chanel Deauville Tote, canvas is definitely a more relaxed and casual material. Besides its less formal look, another advantage of Chanel’s canvas is that it’s very light weight. Thus, it is especially suitable for bigger bags that can get very heavy fast.

A major disadvantage of canvas, especially in lighter colors is how easy it attracts dirt. The good news is that you can dry clean canvas, but be sure to choose a reputable place.

Corduroy

Leave it to Chanel to make corduroy look good. Corduroy derives from fustian which is woven from cotton. The material is special because it looks like it’s made from multiple cords laid parallel to each other. Corduroy is quite a thick and durable material. A con for this Chanel material is that it can attract lint, so try not to wear it with items that produces lint.

Another disadvantage is that corduroy can be seen as a more fall/winter material due to its look and thickness – this can reduce the time you can wear your Chanel corduroy bag.

Velvet

Like corduroy, velvet is also derived from fustian which is woven from cotton. Velvet is a beautiful, luxurious material made extra special and luxurious on a Chanel handbag. If you’re interested in a velvet Chanel bag, we recommend that you choose a small, evening bag. Velvet is quite a delicate material that will show wear quickly, so you need to baby your velvet bags if you want them to look pristine.

The main cons of velvet is that it attracts dust and dirt easily and the material can show wear quickly, especially at the corners.

Jersey

Jersey is a knitted material that is soft and slightly elastic. You can mostly find vintage classic flaps in jersey. It’s not a particularly hardwearing material and it’s prone to getting dirty.

However, if you’re looking for a Chanel Classic Flap and you cannot afford the leather version, this Chanel material can be a good choice. We recommend you get a dark color so it’s easier to hide minor dirt.

Denim

I don’t know if it’s the resurgence of 90’s – 00’s fashion, but Chanel Denim bags are extremely sought after. They don’t always have denim bags in their collection, but when they do, you usually have to fight tooth and nail to get one.

The pros of denim bags is that they are light weight and casual and they fit more than leather bags. A con of denim is that it’s harder to clean and keep clean, at least when comparing to leather. There can also be color transfer from your bag to your light color dress or top.

Plexiglass / Plastic

A true collector’s item, Chanel plexiglass bags are quite hard to get. The Chanel Perfume Bottle bag might be one of the most iconic Chanel plexiglass pieces. Typically, you can find clutches or smaller bags in this material.

If you’re wondering, plexiglass is a type of engineered plastic also known as acrylic. It has an unique look, almost like glass and it’s not the easiest material to work with for intricate bag designs.

Acrylic is not the most practical Chanel material but it will make a statement whenever you wear it. Because it’s plastic, there’s not much you can do to fix scratches, so be aware of that when wearing plexiglass pieces.

Which Material Is Best For A Chanel Bag?

We love tweed due to how luxurious and quintessential Chanel it feels – but other materials can be great depending on what you’re looking for. Canvas is amazingly relaxed and light weight, velvet is luxurious and great for a mini bag and plexiglass will definitely make a statement.

chanel leathers Chanel Leathers & Materials Full Guide. Ranked From Best to Worst
Chanel leather guide: Which leather is the best and which to avoid

FAQ

Which Chanel leather is best?

We love caviar leather the most, due to its durability. However, depending on the look that you want: calfskin, goatskin and even lambskin are good options.

What leathers does Chanel use?

The most popular Chanel leathers are: lambskin, caviar, calfskin, aged calfskin, goatskin, patent and deerskin.

Is Chanel calfskin same as caviar?

No, the main difference is that calfskin is smooth whereas caviar has a grainy texture.

Is Chanel calfskin more durable than lambskin?

Yes, Chanel’s calfskin is more durable than lambskin. Both leathers have a similar, sleek look and feel but calfskin is way more hard wearing.

Can lambskin get wet?

No, lambskin should not get wet. However, it depends how wet your Chanel lambskin bag actually gets. You need to wipe and dry your lambskin as soon as you can – if it’s only a small amount of water, the water stain will probably dry without leaving a mark. Do check out the weather forecast before leaving the house with your Chanel lambskin bag as it’s definitely not a water-friendly material.

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