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Everything you need to know about Hermes’ leathers.
About Hermes’ Leathers
Hermès luxury handbags are of extraordinary value, hand stitched by artisans who produce only 3 to 4 bags a week. One of the reasons they are the most coveted bags in the world is the exceptional quality of the Hermès’ unique types of the finest leathers used for crafting each bag.
On their website, Hermès states that their leather is always “full grain”, which refers to a superior tanning process in which all of the oil-absorbing properties and original characteristics of the hide remain intact.
Thus, a well-aging of the leather and the highest resistance is ensured. In this article, we offer our comprehensive guide to a range of the known cattle hides Hermès uses to create their leather. The article won’t feature exotic skins or leathers that were at some point discontinued and/or made illegal.
Box Calf- the original Hermes leather
Box Calf key features:
- smooth finish
- holds its shape
- not water resistant
Vendome company, the seller of Hermès products based in Monte Carlo, reports that the original, oldest type of leather used in Hermès bags is Box Calf or Veau Box.
Named after 19th Century shoemaker Joseph Box, it is durable, stiff, rigid, and can hold its shape well. It is also the smoothest in finish and allows scratches to blend into the material with a glossy sheen that develops over time. As with most leathers, users and specialists warn about the watermarks in rainy weather.
The matte version of Box Calf leather is known as Chamonix Calf or Veau Chamonix. Itis more scratch resistant, but much like Box calf, it is not water resistant so water will stain the bag permanently.
Veau Barenia – A softer Hermes leather
Veau Barenia key features:
- buttery smooth
- prone to scratching
- will develop a patina
Barenia Natural Calf or Veau Barenia is a very high-quality calf leather that was originally used in Hermès’ equestrian offerings for crafting saddles and was first used in Hermès’ handbag collections during the 1970s.
Naturally, this leather ages well (due to developing a lovely patina) but it’s also one of the softer, more delicate leathers, with a buttery, smooth, matte finish. It is entirely prone to scratching and it’s not water resistant.
Barenia bags come in natural colors, as well as Vert Olive, Indigo, and Black with contrasting white stitching.
Vache Natural Leather – Untreated Hermes Leather
Vache Natural key features:
- scratch resistant
- prone to staining
- prone to darkening
Vache Natural Leather is from the hide of a mature cow rather than a calf like Borenia Natural. This leather is resistant to scratching and is thus having a very delicate and smooth finish. Due to it being untreated, the leather stains quickly and darkens over time.
Clemence – A Soft & Slouchy Hermes Leather
Taurillon Clémence key features:
- scratch resistant
- prone to water damage
Clemence bull-calf or Taurillon Clémence was introduced in the 1980s and is extremely durable and resistant leather made from calves. However, do make sure you’re not getting cough with a Clemence bag in the rain, as it can stain easily.
This is a great leather for those who don’t like a stiff appearance of their bags. For example, a Birkin in Clemence will be much more slouchy than a stiffer leather Birkin.
Togo – Probably the most popular Hermes leather
Togo key features:
- pebbled grained leather
- matte finish
- won’t show scratches as much
Made on Jupiter Leather Lab reports that Togo Leather was around since 1997, and is, natural pebbled-grained leather with a matte finish that is very easy to maintain. Because of its prominent veining, it is less likely to show scratches. It’s also lightweight and keeps it’s shape better than Clemence.
Togo is also the most popular leather for Birkins, so most Hermes lovers are familiarized with this type of leather.
Chèvre de Coromandel – Long lasting H leather
Chèvre de Coromandel key features:
- long lasting
Chèvre de Coromandel is made from a male mountain goat hide and is soft, lightweight, but also tough, long-lasting, and scratch resistant. It is known for its unique sheen finish and iridescence.
Chèvre Mysore – Relatively rare Hermes leather
Chèvre Mysore key features:
- scratch resistant
A more refined version of Chèvre de Coromandelis Chèvre Mysore, and it was introduced to the Birkin line in 2002. It is, too, lightweight, soft, scratch resistant, and iridescent, but has smaller, more visible grains. Due to its rarity, this goat leather is mainly used in smaller items, wallets, and accessories.
Epsom leather – Hermes’ embossed leather
Epsom Calf key features:
- holds its shape
- scratch resistant
- water resistant
Epsom Calf or Veau Epsom was introduced in 2003 as a successor of Grained Calf and Shiny Grained Calf which were discontinued. It is an embossed leather which means that the pattern is artificially pressed into the leather, so, therefore, holds true to its shape and is resilient to scratches.
Epsom is easy to clean and maintain and is water resistant, so you don’t have to worry about an Epsom bag as much.
Many people love the Epsom leather for their Hermes bags due to the fact that Epsom bags are easier to clean, maintain and hold their shape better.
Swift Calf – The smooth Hermes leather
Swift key features:
- prone to marks and scratches
- have good color saturation
Another seller, Bags of Luxury reports that Swift Calf or Veau Swift was introduced in 2006 as the successor of Gulliver leather.
Swift leather is soft and smooth with vivid coloring. As Swift is a completely smooth leather, it will show marks and scratches very easily. It’s also not water resistant and it will easily mark if you’re caught in the rain with a Swift bag. .
On the pre-loved market we can see that Swift Birkins for example tend to retail for a bit less than other leathers, especially if we compare them with grained leathers.
Less popular Hermes leathers
Courchevel Grained Calf
Similar to Epsom, Courchevel Grained Calf or Veau Grainé Courchevel leather is lightweight, easy to carry and clean, but is darker and glossier at the top part of the grain.
Derma Calf or Veau Derma is a thin, smooth leather with a matte finish introduced in 2004. Due to its softness, it does not hold its shape well.
A wide palette of colors of Evercalf or Veau Evercalf was also introduced in 2012, known as Evercolor. It is a male calf leather known for its softness, matte finish and smooth texture, featuring printed small grains that provide a satin appearance.
The embossed version of Evercalf called Evergrain was introduced in 2013. It is known for its fair firmness and matte finish, a very soft and luxurious texture that makes it vulnerable to scratches and scuffs.
Liégée Cow or Vache Liégée was also introduced in 2004, and contains luster known for its processed press.
Negonda Calf or Veau Negonda is a male calf medium-hard leather with large grain introduced in 2007.
Buffalo Sindhu Leather
Also introduced in 2007, Buffalo Sindhu Leather comes from the hide of a water buffalo, with great scratch resistance and a unique coloring and grain size.
Sikkim Calf or Veau Sikkim is a bull calf leather with a soft texture and slight luster. Due to its small grains, it is less prone to scratches.
Trekking Cow or Vache Trekking was introduced in 2009 and is known for its fine press and limited number of colors. It is An extremely rare processed male cowhide, rare to find on a Hermès bag.
Grain d’H Calf
Grain d’H Calf or Veau Grain d’H was introduced in 2012, and is arguably Hermès most unique creation: a processed male calf leather with a finely structured signature H monogram press.
Sombrero Calf or Veau Sombrero was introduced in 2011, and it is a male calf leather with a delicate skin-like texture and a powdery matte finish.
Country Calfskin or Vachette Country was released in 2012 and is a processed female calf leather, known for its firmness and large grain size.
Also introduced in 2012, Butler leather is a natural untreated leather with an exceptionally soft, buttery feel, fragile and develops a nice patina and softness over time, according to Christie’s.
Taurillon Novillo was first introduced in 2015 and it is bull-calf, lightweight, soft and smooth leather with a light sheen and a great ability to hold more rigid shapes and absorb colors.
Barenia Faubourg leather was released in 2017 and has a small grain, resistant to scratches and blemishes but sensitive to water.
Grizzly Calf or Veau Grizzly, also known as Doblis, is an incredibly soft, male calf rawhide, with a short coat on the surface with a velvet texture
Similarly, Velvet Calf or Veau Velours, also known as Nubuck, is crafted from a male calf rawhide and features a suede coat trim on the surface.
Fjord Calfskin or Vachette Fjord comes from an adult bull hide, so it is durable, hard-wearing and water-resistant, but also soft and matte in texture with a flat, wide grain.
Much like Box Calf with whom it is often confused, Veau Tadelakt is derived from male calfskin but it is a little more matte, incredibly smooth with no visible grains, and appears dressier. It is also susceptible to scratches and blisters when exposed to water.
Troika is a rare leather that comes from an unborn male calf, with a smooth calf fur coating full of luster and glowing under lighting.
Hermès Leathers FAQ
- What are the most popular Hermès leathers?
Some of the most popular Hermès leathers are: Epsom, Togo and Clemence.
- Which is the best Hermès leather for a Birkin or Kelly?
That depends on the look you want your Birkin or Kelly to have. For example if you like your bags to keep their structure and remain stiff, we recommend Epsom. If you want them a bit more relaxed and you like the grained look, we recommend Togo leather.
- What is the cheapest Hermès leather?
On the preloved market we often see smooth leather Hermès bags with a lower retail price. This is due to the fact that smooth leathers (like Swift) are more prone to marks and scratches.
- Is Hermès leather vegan?
No, as of 2023, Hermès does not use vegan leather for their bags.
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