Leather is never just “leather” when it comes to designer handbags. Every discerning lover of luxury knows that this is even more so when it comes to bags handcrafted by the House of Hermès. The rare and premium leathers used for the creation of Birkin and Kelly bags are among the trademark design features of these beloved icons. Each leather has its own distinct qualities and characteristics, but some of these stand out from the rest as cult-favourite classics. If you’re looking to purchase a Birkin, Kelly, or another Hermès model on Singapore’s pre-loved luxury market, this guide will take you through some of Hermès’ most iconic leathers to help match you with a bag that fits your desired look and lifestyle.
1. Box Calf Leather
Strong, rigid with a classic smooth finish, Box Calf leather, also known as Veau leather, is the oldest leather type used for Hermès handbags. This leather’s sophisticated appearance and ability to hold its shape lends itself well to structured bags like Sellier Birkins and Kellys. Box Calf is a delicate leather with the potential to develop a beautiful, sheen-like patina over time. Small scratches might appear with wear and tear, but a trained craftsman will usually be able to buff them out with professional repair tools. Remember to keep this bag away from the rain, as water marks may mar the bag.
2. Epsom Leather
Perhaps the most durable leather in Hermès’ roster, Epsom leather was added to the collections in 2004 as a replacement to the now discontinued Courchevel leather. Characterised by a matte appearance and a finely-pressed, cross-hatch grain, the embossed surface of an Epsom leather bag also provides it with a rigid, waterproof quality. Its light weight makes this a favoured leather for frequent travellers and those who put their bags to rigorous use. Epsom leather is also commonly used to create Hermès wallets and small leather goods.
3. Clémence Leather
Matte, flat-grained and with a substantial feel adding to its luxurious appeal, Clémence leather is made from the hide of baby bulls. This is a popular option among secondhand shoppers seeking a bag with a slouchier look for a versatile everyday bag, making it the most commonly used leather for Hermès iconic “bucket bag” – the Picotin Lock. Clémence leather is fairly resistant to scratches but will blister if exposed to rain. It is similar to Togo leather, but with a wider grain and a slightly softer feel.
4. Togo Leather
Made from baby calf skin, Togo leather is often referenced in relation to Clémence leather. In comparison to Clemence leather, Togo is lighter and able to retain its shape to a greater degree while still providing a casually elegant slouchy look. Many customers in Singapore also appreciate the softly pebbled finish provided by the raised grain of the leather’s texture. This leather is also easy to maintain. As visible veining is a natural characteristic of Togo leather, scratches from casual wear and tear will be less pronounced.
5. Swift Leather
Swift leather is particularly favoured among clients who love vibrant colours for their designer bags. Micro grained and incredibly soft-to-touch, Swift leather picks up bright dyes easily. Formerly known as Gulliver leather up to 1999, this leather was reintroduced as Swift in 2005. Its suppleness makes it prone to scratches, but most can be buffed out with a gentle swipe of your fingers.
Bonus: Toile H
Although Toile H is not a leather, this popular, premium canvas material is used in conjunction with other Hermès leathers in Birkins, Kellys and almost every line Hermès has ever produced. As a woven fabric, Toile H is known for its durability and resistance towards friction. It also comes in coated and uncoated varieties. A bicolour warp and weft express the unique Toile H texture.
Shop Secondhand Luxury Bags in Singapore
Buy or sell your secondhand luxury bag with LUX.R, Singapore’s trusted luxury consignment platform specializing in rehoming Hermès Birkin and Kelly models. As a sister brand to the established EcoRing Group, we pride ourselves on our personalised customer service and transparent consignment models as well as our curated range of pre-loved designer goods sourced from the crème de la crème of Asia’s secondhand sales networks. Find out more about our luxury consignment process, or visit our Carousell platform to view our items available for sale.