It may feel like a bit of a puzzle, but with some research, you can - somewhat - grasp what's the deal with all these colours and materials that Hermès puts out every year. It is so for a reason: this French fashion house takes pride in offering the best combination of hues and textures, which actually make the bags as beautiful and valuable as they are.

From the iconic Birkin to the Kelly and casual bags like the Garden Party and the Evelyn, all of the brand's models benefit from the multiplicity of possibilities when it comes to colours and materials: each piece is as unique as it gets. Let's have a closer look at each of those features!


Hermès is famous for its array of remarkable colours and has the most refined tanners of the luxury world. Each season new shades are introduced, bearing some appealing names (think Flamingo, Tangerine, Mimosa or Malachite - groovy!)


And then there are the timeless, traditional colours like Black, Etoupe, Gold, Blue Jean, and the brand’s definitive signature, the Hermès Orange, pictured just below.

To help understand the vast palette, the numerous Hermès colours can be divided into the following groups: red, pink, purple, blue, green, yellow, orange, brown/beige, grey/black. Just so you get an idea of how many tones there are within each of these groups, take a look at the colour chart pictured below...

With a rich colour spectrum like this, if you are looking for a bag to match a particular outfit for a special occasion then you’re bound to easily work out the tone you need. But if you’re looking for one that will not date and can be worn on a day-to-day basis, then you’re best off with classic colours, which are uber-versatile.

Hermès bags can be found in numerous calf leathers and exotic skins. Calfskin leather handbags – which make up most of Birkins and Kellies – are made from bull calves and sometimes from goatskin, while the lining of the bags is usually in goatskin. The most popular among calf leathers is Togo: natural bull calf leather with a stunning pebble finish and a scratch-resistant grain; the Taurillon Clemence is also a fave: a softer and thicker bull calf leather with a matte appearance; while the Epsom leather is getting bigger by the day: a lightweight yet robust leather which holds its shape well but is not as resistant.


There are also several precious exotic skins including Nilocitus and Porosus Crocodile, Alligator, Lizard and Ostrich – they are exquisite, breath-taking, expensive and generally more of a collector’s item.

Hermes craftsmen mark the skin on Porosus crocodile (pictured above) handbags with a circumflex ^. Porosus crocodiles are the largest living reptile and can reach up to 6.7 metres (huge right?). Those farmed – the skins of which are used by Hermes – come mostly from the East and West coasts of Australia. It takes a long time for them to reach adulthood: they live in the natural world until they are 70 or even 100 years old, hence the very high cost of farming these animals.

Niloticus crocodile bags are stamped with two asterix **. Niloticus, the Nile Crocodile is the second largest crocodile in the world and lives in sub-Saharan Africa. The males usually grow to 4 – 5m. 

The Aligator (pictured above) bags are stamped with an empty square □. Alligator stands for the male American alligator: it grows to a maximum length of 4.5m in length and is found in the southeast of the United States. It is the state reptile for Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida. Then there are the fabrics, like the Toile - which is basically cotton canvas - plus the Feutre and Lainage (woolen materials) and Crinolin, a material created by weaving together horsehair and hemp, which has been discontinued.

Now that some knowledge is on your side, time to start deciding what material is your thing and what colour describes your soul!