A Complete Guide to Hermés’ Exotic Leathers

By Luxe Du Jour
December 19, 2023

Navigating the stunning variety of leathers Hermés has to offer!

When it comes to leather goods, Hermés reigns supreme, the quality of the skins and the breadth of colours available is incomparable to any other. Hermés utilizes “35 different types of leather — most of which come from calves raised in France.” Then we have the highly covetable exotics from ostrich and lizard to crocodile, and each has their own unique characteristics that sets it apart and makes it identifiable. Before adventuring into all of the leathers Hermés has to offer, let us start with our complete guide to the exotics including how to identify them.

The Exotics 

Alligator: The Mississippiensis Alligator, not to be confused with crocodile leather, will carry a square next to the name identifying the skin. It also comes in two variations: lisse (which is a glossy shine) and matte.

Crocodile Niloticus: Sourced from the Nile river, this crocodile is identifiable by its larger scales and a double dot stamp, also offered in lisse and matte, but you must be careful because water damage to these skins can lower the value. The beloved Himalayan is made from Crocodile Niloticus. 

Crocodile Porosus: Now, we are looking at the most expensive skin that Hermés utilizes, also in lisse or matte. This Asian/Australian exotic is highly popular but not easy to get. By touch you can feel a difference in the scaling,it is truly worth the investment. Look for a caret stamp to identify Porosus.

Caiman Crocodile: Now if you catch one of these beauties, scoop it up immediately because Caiman crocodile was only available pre-1990s. It’s truly not a crocodile, but a South American reptile part of the Caimaninae genus, which is actually more related to alligators. You’ll be looking for vintage Hermés if you want Caiman Crocodile and a circle stamp next to the name. 

Ostrich: One of the most easily identifiable exotic skins, you can recognize it right away without the stamp by its dotted skin due to the quills. This leather is extremely durable and will likely not lose its shape over time if cared for properly. It only comes in a matte finish, which means oils from our hands can darken the lighter colours. Because ostrich is so easy to pick out, there will be no stamp for this specific skin, and even better news is it doesn’t require a CITES.

Lizard Niloticus: Veranus Niloticus, another from the Nile river, will carry a hyphen stamp. The scales are smaller, and often give off a glossy appearance even in its matte variation. Extraordinarily smooth feeling, you’ll find that lizard is quite delicate and you have to watch for the skin drying out. It may require more constant care, but its beautiful presentation is worth owning one. 

Lizard Salvator: We’ve reached our final exotic, the Southeast Asian Varanus Salvator lizard. This, like ostrich, is easily identifiable because it’s the leather used for ombre handbags and stamped with an equal sign or double hyphen. Dyed in a pattern that will show off its natural characteristic, this is one of our favourites to see pop up.

Before we go, we wanted to share a little more about the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) certificate that most of these Hermés leathers require. We get questions often about why CITES is needed and what it means. To break it down simply, if you are travelling country to country, the certificate proves that the bag you are carrying isn’t made from any endangered species. It’s almost like an identification card, a passport, for your exotic bag. Be sure to carry it with you during travel to avoid it being detained. Rules can vary by country, so it is best to find out ahead if you plan on bringing along your exotic beauty. 

Be sure to shop our variety of exotics at Ldj.com
Have an exotic leather handbag that needs some love? Our Luxe Bag Spa specialists work with Hermés exotics and carry over a decade or restoration experience, be sure to reach out and contact us!