Hermès has long been synonymous with the word luxury and for many, bags like the Birkin and the Kelly are the ultimate bags to procure for your collection; especially if it’s made from a rarer skin. Every Hermès product is individually crafted and hand-stitched meaning it can take as many as 40 hours to create a single product. 

As many luxury handbag collectors will know, even on luxury brands, leather qualities can vary greatly. But when it comes to Hermès, no expense is spared and each piece is made only from the finest quality materials; they’re even looking into producing vegan-friendly alternatives to their products. Here are some of the best leathers and skins Hermès currently use for their bags. 


The original leather that Hermès used to create saddles, Barenia is one of the highest quality leathers in the world that is made from a high-grade calfskin. The leather has a smooth exterior and just a hint of sheen which exudes luxury and catches the light perfectly. Because of its original purpose, the leather is also extremely hard-wearing making it a very appealing choice. It’s completely scratch-resistant, has oil-absorbing properties which also make it water-resistant; ideal for UK weather. The leather also requires a very specific tanning process which is only known by very few people in the world. Mainly used on small leather goods and even used for an Apple watch strap, there have been a few Birkins spotted which have been made from this material and it’s a solid choice for a first time Hermès purchase.


Another popular leather used by Hermès is the Epsom. Made using a man-made embossing technique, it’s finished in a similar way to that on a Chanel caviar flap bag. It’s lightweight easily wiped clean and is usually popular amongst travellers as the embossed, laminated effect hides any major scratches.

Hermès Clemence 

Another grain-effect leather, this product is heavier than normal and is typically used on bags with less structure like the Picotin; though it has been known to be used on the Birkin too for those who want something a little different. It’s worth noting though that despite its weight and grainy texture, it doesn’t fare well in the rain and isn’t waterproof. 

Hermès Box Calf Leather 

Another famous and more traditional option from Hermès is the Box Calf leather which was often used in the production of some of the first Kelly bags. It is exceptionally smooth; smoother than the Barenia and has a soft glossy finish to it. However, it does tend to scratch a little easier than the Barenia and it’s not waterproof. 

Chamonix Leather 

Sourced in, you guessed it, the heart of Chamonix, this leather is very similar to the box calf, however, this will give a more matte finish. It almost feels like plastic, without feeling cheap and is a better alternative to the box calf if you’re looking for something a little more durable with a similar effect. 

Hermès Niloticus Crocodile 

The more affordable of the two crocodile options is the Hermès Niloticus, sourced in the areas surrounding the Nile river, the skin is available in a shinier and matte effect and is sure to dazzle anyone who comes near to it. The scales are larger than those of the other crocodile skin from Hermès, the Porosus and 0ne interesting thing to note about this highly desirable skin is that despite its origins, it doesn’t react well to water. However, it is pretty durable elsewhere and is scratch resistant.  

Hermès Natural Lizard 

Though this skin is no longer commonly used by Hermès, it does make any product made from it a fine investment when purchased pre-loved, just be sure to be vigilant when authenticating. Most easily identified by its small scales, most goods made from this skin come with a glossy finish and are small in size as they’re sourced from the African Monitor Lizard. As with crocodile and alligator skins, the bag is more sensitive than some of the fine leathers Hermès uses as it can be prone to drying out and peeling if not looked after correctly. Similarly to the way the crocodile skin doesn’t fare well when exposed to water, the lizard skin doesn’t fare well in the heat and as such needs to be stored in a cool place between uses.