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Chanel is widely known for their beautiful leather craft work: particularly in their handbags. And you’re likely somewhat familiar with their coveted caviar leather. But Chanel produces bags in a variety of materials and different finishes every season!

There are many options to explore, but for this post, I wanted to focus in on a few of the common leather types that the Maison offers to give you a better idea of what to look for and what to expect out of your purchase (or just some eye candy for those who need it;)

Looking for something in particular? Feel free to skip a head using the table of content down below!

Chanel Leather Types

Chanel typically works with 3 leather types; Calfskin, Lambskin & Goatskin. And on occasion, they will also offer Deerskin and Exotic skins. Within these leather types, there can be different finishes as well that can make them more delicate or durable. Some skins are better at color uptake than others while others give off a beautiful shine while some stay matte. These are all things to consider when trying to determine what type of leather and finish you want in your handbag. Keep in mind, the skin type & finish will typically effect the retail and preloved prices as well.

Also keep in mind that leather is skin from a living being. I know, I know, that can be gross to some of you. But that means that no two leathers are going to be completely the same– even if the skin was used from the same animal! Different batches from Chanel of the same style may look and respond to the environment slightly different.

This guide below will give you the basics on how each of these leathers responds, looks and feels, but remember, even within these categories, there will be variation–which I find to be part of the beauty of leather good!

Calfskin Basics

I want to start off with calfskin because this is what a lot of people are familiar with when it come to Chanel leathers–wheatear they know it or not.

Calfskin is extremely manipulative, light and durable allowing for many different finishes. While I’ll go into more depth on a few of them down below, calfskin is a great option for someone looking for a low maintenance, every day luxury bag.

Untreated calfskin will be your more delicate types and more prone to starches and staining (although this is not always the case!). While distressed calfskin (like that often found on the Reissue ) will typically be pretty durable.

Just behind lambskin, you’ll find the most options for leather goods in some form of calfskin. Because of its durability, you’ll find many SLG in fun colors with this leather type. Because of its popularity, calfskin items tend to be more expensive than lambskin on the preloved market. However, this leather type is a good starting point for someone who is new to owning and caring for leather good.

Caviar Basics

Caviar, Chanel’s specialty pebbled leather is actually made from calfskin!

In recent years, this leather finish has been coveted for its durability and practicalness. Most people find this leather finish to be fairly carefree so its prefect for people who want something they can use daily.

The caviar finish is fairly durable, however it’s not indestructible. You’ll still need to take care to condition it regularly, store it properly and look after it.

Patent Leather Basics

Patent leather is another finish done with calfskin. While not really popular, patent leather pops up every now and again with Chanel with beautiful and shine colors.

Patent leather can be challenging in that the finish is very absorbent so it can discolor easily, and the glaze can crack with wide temperature or moisture changes. Be sure to store this bag with plenty of good air flow and avoid wearing parking colors that it might absorb to keep it it looking nice!

Lambskin Basics

A lambskin classic flap is usually what pops into peoples mind when you mention the name “Chanel”. These bags are buttery soft, typically higher shines and typically feel more dressy than calfskin bags.

Lambskin also takes up color beautifully. Color, wheatear dark or bright will appear more vibrant with lambskin, and has now becomes the brands choice leather for seasonal pieces.

Many people worry about hoe delicate lambskin can be. While it’s true that it’s more delicate compared to calfskin, not all lambskin is fragile. I’ve had lambskin bags that have been caught in the rain and had zero issues and others that started to experience issues with just being in a dryer climate. It really all depends on the batch that you get.

What I can say is, in my experience vintage lambskin pieces tend to wear the best–even better than caviar in my opinion.

Because of the softness of this leather, I notice my lambskin bags are more prone to sagging. to help prevent this, I like to store my bags with a felt organizer to help them keep their shape.

Goatskin Basics

While feeling buttery soft to the touch, almost reminiscent to lambskin, goatskin is a very durable leather and a great option for someone looking for daily bag to wear. Unlike lambskin though, Goatskin is slightly textured and appears more matte.

Because of its durability, goatskin leathers are often seen in totes and more recently, in the Chanel 19’s. Because this leather type is a bit heavier, these bags will tend to sag a bit over time, especially near the top. It’s likely a good idea to store this type of bag with something to help it keep it’s shape as well.

Deerskin Basics

Similar to grained calfskin and Caviar leather, deerskin or Cerf texture is a bit lighter to the touch, but a much thicker and heavier material. In spite of its weight though, deerskin is fairly flexible, making it great to use for handbags. Chanel currently has discounted the use of real deerskin however due to complaints about weights.

Deerskin can still be found on the preloved market, thought normally in black colors. Currently the Maison mimics Cerf style leathers with calf skin.

Exotic Skin Basics

Chanel has done exotic leather bags in the past but has currently stopped producing them. While they sited supply chain issues, it’s also likely impart due to social backlash on how some of these skins are sourced. But because of this, you only option for these are on the preloved market place.

Being so unique, exotic leather pieces are some of the most expensive handbag options out there. They are typically made from python, alligator or on occasion lizard and generally will be on a classic style such as the Classic Flap or the Coco Handle. These leathers are extremely delicate and really are only suited for special occasions.

Is One Better?

Often times, people ask, which on is better? And that is a very personal question! All these leather types have their pros and cons that you need to consider for your particular lifestyle. That said, overwhelming, your available options will either be something that is calfskin or lambskin. so here’s what I would consider for picking each one.

Chose Calfskin…

  • Looking for durability
  • Easy upkeep
  • Every day use
  • Higher resell value

Chose Lambskin…

  • Luxury feel
  • Rich color options
  • Buying vintage


Chanel offers such a wide range of leather types and finishes with even more material options that aren’t listed here! It can feel overwhelming when trying to make a decision on what’s right for you, especially if you’re just learning all of this for the first time.

This guide is just the most basic overview of the different leather types that Chanel offers and what you should know about them But if you are considering make a purchase soon, I highly encourage you to continue your research with the forms and sites below.

Let me know if you find content like this helpful down below! And If you’re invested in seeing some more Chanel handbags up close, be sure to check out my IG page.

Till next time!