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Industry + Insights / February 24, 2015 / Lee Gusman
Lee's Corner: The 5 best leathers used for designer bags

Since my Chanel bag STILL hasn't fallen out of the sky and into my lap, I will just have to dedicate ANOTHER blog post to handbags. Hey, maybe if I don't stop talking about them one will magically appear. Isn't that how it works? Anyways, since I've already described, rated, and obsessed over them I'm doing what all good stalkers do: my research. So when it comes to designer bags this meant studying their leather. I wanted to know exactly what my favorite bags where made out of and whether or not it is TRULY amazing quality. I mean, if I'm going to take out a second mortgage for an accessory it needs TO BE THE BEST. Well here is what I found out about the leathers used for the most coveted bags.

 

1- Vachetta Leather for Louis Vuitton 

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The Leather- Funny enough, most Louis Vuitton bags are not made entirely of leather. Most monogrammed bags are made of canvas materials and have leather finishes. The Speedy (pictured above) is made of a material that is meant to stand the test of time: It is water resistant, rigid and incredibly light. The handles, however are made of Vachetta. This particular leather is HIGHLY sensitive to both light and humidity. It will oxidize over time (a process called patina) and will get darker as the years go by. This is a great way to know if a bag is TRULY authentic because cheap, fake materials won't change color. That being said, you probably shouldn't invest in a Louis if you are scared of discoloration. I, on the other hand, think it gives the bag character.

Maintenance-  What if I told you that all you needed was a couple Qtips and a magic eraser? Head over here to see exactly how to take care of your Louis.

 

2- Lambskin and Caviar for Chanel

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The Leather- Chanel uses primarily two types of leather: Caviar and Lambskin. My favorite is the latter, which is used on most Chanel Flap bags (pictured above). It is so soft that you'll want to cuddle it all day (yes I would totally cuddle with a bag) and is extremely coveted. CAUTION! Although it may be a smooth operator this baby bruises like a peach. It is highly susceptible to stains, scratches, and blemishes. This isn't your "going to the club" kind of purse. It is meant for a classy lady who does classy things like go to museums or antiquing. If you're a party girl who needs her Chanel fix go with the Caviar. Although rougher, it is very durable and won't bruise as easily.

Maintenance- With lambskin you NEVER want to use water. Only attempt removing blemishes with something dry. For more serious injuries please bring it to the ER aka the Chanel Store.

 

3- Natural tanned vegetable leather for Mansur

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The Leather- Mansur Gavriel might be the HOTTEST bag brand right now. Their "no fuss" minimalist designs have allowed them to find a home in every street style darlings heart. They are tanned with a vegetable leather which is process that involves "natural" ingredients such as wood, leaves, and even fruits. This gives the leather a nice balance between rough and smooth. Its scuff resistant nature allows it be a true "every day" kind of bag. However, when it comes in contact with water it will shrink and harden. So like, don't save it for a rainy day...

Maintenance- Only use dry paper towels to remove stains. NEVER H20! Capishe?

 

4- Ostrich Leather at Hermès 

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The Leather- So unique. So exotic. SO EXPENSIVE! Ostrich leather is the creme de la creme when it comes to leathers. Hermès is most famous for using it on its Birkins and Kelly bag. They will only cost you minimum $20,000 (crying on the inside). But when a bag looks this pretty wouldn't living in the street be worth it? I'm joking...or am I? Anyways, they're are 26 long steps taken to make one of these bags and they are all VERY meticulous.

Maintenance-  Ostrich leather is HIGHLY reactive to oils so never use them to clean the bag. Most Kelly bags have handles made out of a different leathers because the natural oils in your hands could cause permanent stains to it. Other than that it is a fairly low maintenance leather.

 

5- Croc leather at Saint Laurent 

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The Leather- Excuse me while I drool over what I believe is perfection in physical form. Crocodile leather is surprisingly less expensive than ostrich but somehow seems to make a more powerful statement. It is for THE fearless woman who saw bad taste on her lap and said "Get off before I hit you with my croc embossed bag!" It has an appeal like no other. The downside is that it can be a little high maintenance.Unfortunately, it isn't waterproof (which is weird because I thought crocodiles lived in the water) and it will naturally start "drying" as time goes by. BUT FEAR NOT, you can take special measures to prevent this process.

The maintenance- You should give it a nice clean EVERY month. This means taking a slightly damp towel and covering the surface with moisture. Let it sit for a minute then quickly take a dry towel and wipe it off. Et voila!

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