Ultimate Guide to the Most Popular Leathers for Luxury Purses

by Brian Brian February 01, 2017

  "Should I choose the Calfskin or Lambskin… What’s the difference anyways?!”

At Lux Second Chance we hear you... With so many options out there today we take the time to know the A-Z’s of everything to do with luxury purses and we want to share this with you! We think it is important that you are familiar with the common terms, facts, pros and cons to the many popular leathers and finishes used to make our favorite designer handbags. With that said, we have compiled a comprehensive guide to some of the leathers you have heard many times and maybe some not-so familiar. Not only is it great to have an understanding of all the attributes previously mentioned, but it is also the key to making informed purchasing decisions and understanding that some leathers and finishes are better for certain uses than others. This is one of the biggest benefits to brushing up on your knowledge, helping you make sure to make the right decision when purchasing your dream purse!


  • One of the softest leathers used in luxury purses
  • Some compare it’s softness with velvet
  • Very delicate and prone to damages such as scuffs and scratches. This delicate nature can also over time cause the purse to sag or loose structure
  • However, depending on the specific designer’s finish, lambskin can vary in delicateness. For example, Dior Lambskin is more resilient against scratches and sagging compared to a Chanel lambskin
  • Grainy appearance
  • Moderately soft to touch, but noticeable bumpy grains
  • More durable than other smooth finishes like lambskin
  • Scratches and scuffs are not as noticeable if they do occur
  • After use this leather will become slightly more polished looking, with a slight sheen to it’s appearance
  • This is one of Chanel’s most popular finishes since it can be used on an every day purse


  • Originally, Prada had the first patent for genuine Saffiano cowhide leather
  • Can also come in a very similar faux version made from polyurethane
  • Has a strong textured appearance similar in look to cross-hatching
  • Made by a stamping and pressing method finished with a wax treatment
  • The term Saffiano is popularly used with designers such as Prada and Michael Kors
  • This leather is becoming increasingly popular because of its durability and ease to wipe clean—a very practical option!


  • Otherwise known as Veau leather with designers such as Hermes
  • Glossy and smooth appearance
  • Relatively structured
  • Can blister easily if it gets wet


  • Shinny / glossy finish
  • Dents and stains easily – usually best to choose a patent leather in a darker colour
  • Patent is susceptible to colour transfer over time, generally when stored for longer periods of time
  • Designers like Prada and Louis Vuitton generally refer to their Patent leather as a Vernice (varnished) leather


  • Matte appearance but can be very soft to touch
  • Can scratch easily and is difficult to clean
  • Can easily be ruined by contact with water
  • Usually used on less structured bags
  • Breaks down and become softer over time


  • Recently most popular in Dior designs
  • A visibly grainy look to this leather, comparable to a pebbled effect
  • Very durable and keeps structure well
  • Withstands reasonable amount of water / rain with the similar comparison of calfskin leather
  • Favourable for structured purses
  • Relatively easy to clean

  • This is an unique type of leather created from plant juice
  • Painting techniques that layer the material adds to the unique texture
  • Water and scratch resistant making it a durable and practical choice for an every day purse
  • Most popular with Louis Vuitton purse designs 

  • One of the more expensive and distinct leathers available
  • Has a bumpy/ dotted appearance and texture
  • A heavier leather than other popular option such as lamb or cowhide making it extremely durable
  • Darkens upon hand contact and lightens with sun exposure


  • Supple leather with a pebbled looking appearance
  • Not common in many new designs since it is quite heavy
  • Very durable and used for structured handbags
  • Hermes has used Buffalo leather more so than other popular designers in recent years

  • Another term for wild boar leather/ skin
  • Not a commonly used type of leather
  • It is identifiable through the evident pores in the leather. You should notice three pin dots in groups of three – which, were the hair follicles of the boar
  • Most recently seen in designs by Prada and Kate Spade

  • Extremely soft to touch
  • Exceptional balance of thickness and durability
  • Generally referred to as a very luxurious appearance and can look very similar to that of Caviar finished calf leather 
  • The difference between it and grained/caviar leather is the weight of Deerskin – It can be quite heavy
  • The weight of Deerskin for larger purses actually caused Chanel to stop using it on many styles and changed to textured calfskin whilst still keeping the elegant name Cerf (french for deer) 

  • Usually a vinyl or canvas finish
  • The most popular example in the luxury purse world is the Louis Vuitton classic monogram canvas finish created by a number of processes to produce a durable and leather-like finish
  • More cost effective and ethically acceptable to many consumers
  • Easy to care for – can be wiped down and resists scratches and water resistant

    • For an exotic and pricey skin, this option is moderately durable
    • However, it must be treated often to insure no flaking of scales
    • Must be kept away from direct sunlight to avoid fading
    • It can come in a matte and shinny (lisse) finishes which both look equally luxurious 


    • Python is the most popular type of snake skin
    • One of the most fragile leathers that can be used for a full purse designs in luxury
    • Needs constant treatment in order to avoid deterioration and flaking
    • Must be kept away from direct sun light to avoid rapid fading


    • This is extremely delicate leather and is usually only bought by collectors
    • Must not be used frequently and is a rare choice for many designers
    • Prone to scratching, flaking and fading very easily
    • Generally used on smaller accessories like wallets or clutches



      Brian Brian
      Brian Brian


      1 Response


      July 25, 2019

      Wonderful! This is the kind of information I was looking for. Thank you.

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