HERMES 101: GUIDE TO POPULAR LEATHERSPosted on
Unrivalled in creating the most extraordinary handbags in the world, Hermes has built for itself an empire of fans that sought after their ultra-exclusive and impeccably crafted bags.
Hermes bags come in a wide range of leathers and skins, creating a unique and distinct look for each bag. Dyed in different colours with ultra-precision, Hermes' bags have a very luxurious and expensive look. Hermes is known for their meticulous handling of leather and precious exotic skins. Leather is considered the rawhide of an animal, including cows, goats and buffalo. Some of the most popular leather types used in Birkin and Kelly bags include Clemence, Box Calf, Swift, Epsom, and Togo.
Whether you’re a seasoned Hermes collector or you’re thinking of buying your very first bag, there're many things you need to know before making your decision. Regarding leathers, there are just so many to choose from. Here’s our guide to the most popular types of leather used by Hermes.
The oldest type of leather used by Hermes, Box Calf, is in many vintage Kelly bags. Box Calf leather sports a smooth and polished finish with refined grains. Hermes Box Calf leather is “boardy,” a leatherworking term that describes leather that is stiff and can hold its shape well.
Hermès Box Calf leather is delicate and can be prone to scratches and scuffs. Be cautious around water, as it can develop blisters when wet. However, blemishes and scratches can blend into the bag with light buffing to create a mirror-like texture.
Made from goat hide, Chèvre Mysore is very lightweight, making it practical and functional for the fashionista on the go. It is also extremely resilient and strong, with refined visible grains and a soft shine. Completely resistant to scratching, Chevre Mysore is very special and commands a high value on the resale market.
Made from a baby bull, Hermes has used Clemence since the 1980s, rendering it a classic material. It is a heavy leather that is highly durable, with tough resistance against tarnishing. Clemence has a semi-matte smooth, pebbled-grained surface that creates a slightly slouchy and relaxed handbag. Like Togo, Clemence is softer and smoother and has slightly wider and flatter grains and no veining compared to Togo. This leather choice can be a bit heavy to carry for larger handbags.
Epsom leather is famous for its structured shape and laminated appearance. Unlike other leathers, the grain is pressed into the leather using a cross-hatched fine grain, making it tough, durable, and less likely to show scratches. Epsom leather is also waterproof and tends to show colour with more incredible vibrancy than most other leathers.
The leather is also lightweight and easy to clean, making it the perfect low-maintenance material for those concerned about the longevity of their Hermes bags. Epsom is often used for Kelly and Birkin Sellier-style bags.
Evercalf is very similar to Hermès Box Calf leather but is much softer and smoother. It is also more matte with just a hint of sheen. Notable for its softness and durability, the luxurious Evercalf leather is not prone to scuffs and scrapes, making it a more sturdy option for everyday use.
Made from adult calf leather, Fjord is soft to the touch with a flatter and broader grain than other leathers like Clemence. It features an elegant, velvety matte finish. From a distance, the leather often looks like it has vertical veins. It is entirely scratch-resistant and water-resistant. As Fjord leather is hard-wearing, it is also rather heavy; due to the heaviness of the leather, Fjord is rarely used by Hermes to make handbags anymore.
Formerly known as Gulliver leather before being reintroduced in 2005, Swift leather features a fine and natural grain reflecting light while absorbing colour dyes, giving it an elegant sheen that shimmers beautifully under sunlight. Swift leather is beautiful for brightly coloured bags and is incredibly soft to the touch. However, due to its smooth nature, it can be a little more delicate, and extra care needs to be taken, as it is susceptible to creasing and scratches, though minor ones can be rubbed away with your fingers.
One of the most popular Hermes leathers, Togo, is natural soft-pebbled leather with a matte finish and visible veining. Togo is beautiful leather; its winning quality is the pronounced and raised grainy surface many Hermes fans enjoy. Relatively lightweight and scratch-resistant, Togo is well-loved as it is easy to maintain, easy to clean and can be refurbished easily.
Made from the skin of a baby calf, Togo leather is considered the "half-sister" of the Clemence (which is made from the hide of a young bull). Lighter than the Clemence with a more sturdy shape, bags made from Togo leather have a more rigid appearance. Hence, many Hermes fans prefer Togo leather for larger bags.
Vache leather is unprocessed and untreated, making it extremely delicate and can develop a patina after multiple uses. It is, however, very hardy and strong, with a smooth and soft texture. Like good wine, Vache leather gets better as it matures with time and uses – the colour and texture of the leather change over time, giving every bag a unique and individualized personality.
Commonly found in vintage handbags, Vache leather has only been released in natural and black shades.
These are the most popular and well-loved types of leather used by Hermes; each one gives a different look and feel to every handbag so that they can appeal to many people and their diverse tastes. Though each leather comes with its own pros and cons, it is up to the individual to decide which one suits their everyday lifestyle and fashion ethos best. So whether you're looking for a luxurious Hermes bag to carry only on special occasions or a simple and durable bag, there's an option for everyone.