HERMES LEATHERS EXPLAINED
BOX CALF, BLACK
The quintessential Hermes leather. A veau, or calf leather, this leather has been around since Hermes has been making handbags. It is smooth leather with a glossy finish that is susceptible to scratches. However, the scratches eventually blend into one glossy mirror-like patina that box aficionados crave. Care must be taken with this leather when raining, if the raindrops are not wiped off, the leather will blister. Under the right care, box calf can last for generations.
The matte version of box calf. This leather handles scratches better than box calf, but is worse in the rain, with a greater tendency to blister. The finish applied to this leather gives it an almost plastic appearance.
The original saddle leather. This leather is double tanned in chrome and vegetable dyes and then soaked in a mix of nine different oils over a 5 to 6 week process. The process causes the leather fibers to soak up all the oils. This leaves the leather with an interesting characteristic. When scratched, the scratches can be rubbed off with a few swipes of your finger, because Barenia can absorb the oils. Also, when rained upon, the water droplets will eventually evaporate. There is no aniline finish; therefore, this leather will develop a patina.
Another of Hermes's classic leathers, but retired during the last 10 years. A long lasting durable leather that can last generations if maintained. It is lightweight. This leather is available matte or lisse and can be dyed. Horrible in rain, this leather will blister.
Baby calf leather, a veau. To some it is heavy. Others find the aroma heavenly. It is soft leather, but not as much as clemence. To many, one of the hallmarks of Togo is veining. However, Togo can be veined or un-veined. It is a finer grain than clemence, and slightly more pronounced. It is scratchproof and can be refurbished to almost as good as new.
Official name is veau taurillon clemence. It is baby bull and heavy. Perhaps the leather with most slouch to it. It is a broader, flatter grain. The grain has a tendency to come to the surface and this is evidenced by cracking of the resin along the edges of the bag. Around since the 1980's, it is becoming a classic. Another of the Hermes leathers that can be refurbished to almost as good as new.
If you don't wipe the bag down after it gets wet, the blisters can become permanent. You must not allow the fibers to become saturated with water, otherwise they will plump up.
A vache, or adult cow hide. It has a wider, flatter grain than togo or clemence and somewhat heavier as well. It has the advantage of repelling water off its surface.
This is embossed leather, in other words the pattern is imprinted into the leather and what you see is not its natural grain. The process of embossing compresses the leather and gives the leather some rigidity. This is a phenomenon common to all the embossed leathers and to the stretched ones as well. Epsom appears to be laminated, as it is easy to clean with a damp cloth, which is one of the advantages to this leather. In addition, it is lightweight.
Now only seen in small accessories, this leather is very similar to Epsom in appearance. Another embossed leather, it has the same properties as Epsom. It is lightweight and easy to clean. The slight difference is that courchevel is shinier and darker at the top of the grain. It is dyed in a 2-dye process and then treated with a laminate.
Lambskin. Very soft with a gentle hand. It is prone to scratches but ages well with a slight patina and slight greying around the edges. It is used in gloves and the linings of the jige elan, some small leather goods, maharani, and many vintage clutches, as well as the bolide and selected white bags. It is also used in Carmen keying and carmencita series bookmarks.
These wo leathers are together, because they are one and the same. Gulliver was retired around 7 years ago and brought back within the last year. It is soft leather with a gentle hand and a fine grain. One of its best qualities is that it is great at absorbing the dyes and the brighter colors come to life in this leather. The fine grain seems to reflect light in such a way that the colors are almost iridescent. While it can scratch more easily than clemence and Togo the scratches can be rubbed off with your finger. Deeper scratches can be refurbished with a condition at Hermes and brought back to almost new. It is resilient leather.
Exotics: a CITES certificate that should be carried while traveling overseas or risk leaving your bag abroad.
Species Struthio Camellus, farmed in South Africa. Can come matte. This is a dynamic leather that will darken from contact with your hands and also lighten with exposure to light. It is effective in rain as the surface can be wiped down with a cloth with no marks or residue. It ages well and will develop a patina over time. If maintained properly it can last decades. CITES certificate that should be carried while traveling overseas.
Farmed in Australia. Considered by many to be the premier Hermes leather and noted for its fine, symmetrical scale pattern. It does not come glazed, rather the shine comes from repeated buffing of the skin with a stone until it reaches a sheen. Because it is not treated, it does not do well in rain. While the crocodile skins can be glazed, it is not recommended that it be done more than twice. The reason being that the uneven texture of the skin will leave the glaze uneven on its surface, which may eventually peel and flake with time. Being an exotic, it should come with a CITES certificate that should be carried while traveling.
Also known as Nile crocodile and farmed in Zimbabwe. Recognized by its larger scale pattern than porosus. It does not come glazed, rather the shine comes from repeated buffing of the skin with a stone until it reaches a sheen. Because it is not treated, it does not do well in rain. Glazing should not be done more than twice. The reason being that the uneven texture of the skin will leave the glaze uneven on its surface, which may eventually peel and flake with time. Being an exotic, it should come with a CITES certificate that should be carried while traveling.
CROCODYLUS NILOTICUS MATTE
Known as Nile crocodile, farmed in Zimbabwe. Matte skins are finished simply by rubbing with felt, thereby necessitating that the skins be the best available as every blemish will be evident. The same care for matte croc skins as shiny skins must be observed under wet conditions. If wet or stained the defect can remain permanently. Again CITES certificates are provided with the bag and should be carried during travel.
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