5 different Chanel bags arranged on a white background.

The Ultimate Chanel Leather Guide

Every fashion house has a selection of fabrics and materials that become synonymous with their brand. Louis Vuitton has the Monogram Empreinte leather and Prada has their signature Nylon fabric. Chanel may be famous for its tweed suits and little black dresses, but their signature leather handbag designs are arguably their most popular products.

Discover all of Chanel’s leather types in our Chanel leather guide. From the iconic Caviar to their potential future vegan leather, Piñatex. Each has a set of unique qualities that alter the look, feel and overall character of Chanel’s handbags, accessories and shoes.

Caviar leather

Our Chanel leather guide begins with a leather type that is arguably one of the most iconic in the high fashion world. With a name that matches the luxuriousness of the leather itself, Chanel’s Caviar leather is an iconic member of the Chanel leather collection. Caviar leather is often known simply as ‘grained calfskin’.

With a sturdy, almost rigid, structure and durable, pebbled texture, it’s a popular leather choice for everyday handbags. It’s also an exceptionally popular choice for secondhand Chanel handbags, because of its durable nature and longevity.

A zipped vanity case with light reflecting on the pebbled grain.
Caviar leather on a secondhand Chanel vanity case from Timeless Vintage

Lambskin leather

Buttery soft and smooth, lambskin leather has an extremely luxe and plush looking appearance. Because of its soft texture and untreated nature, lambskin leather holds colours exceptionally well.

This means richer colours and also a deeper black (Chanel’s ‘So Black’ leather is lambskin). However it does also mean that Chanel’s lambskin leather is more vulnerable to scratches and damage, so make sure to treat it with care and store your handbag correctly when not in use.

Chanel’s lambskin leather on a secondhand bag from Timeless Vintage

Grained Lambskin leather

With a pebbled texture, Chanel’s grained leather lambskin greatly resembles Caviar leather, however, the sheen is much more matte in appearance.

Calfskin leather

Chanel’s untreated calfskin leather is often recommended for those who can’t decide between lambskin or Caviar. Calfskin is considered more durable than lambskin, however, it has a finer grain than Caviar leather.

Calfskin leather on a secondhand Chanel purse from Timeless Vintage

There are also several Chanel calfskin types of leather with varying qualities and characteristics…

Aged Calfskin leather

A popular choice for many handbags and small leather accessories, including 2.55 reissue handbags. Aged calfskin has a matte sheen and a unique, creased texture.

Shiny Crumpled Calfskin leather

With a lustrous sheen, crumpled calfskin leather is supple and soft. Like the aged calfskin, it has a creased texture, but with more gentle lines, giving it a ‘crumpled’ appearance. There is also a ‘Metallic Crumpled calfskin leather’ with similar qualities, but also a soft metallic sheen.

Glazed Calfskin leather

With a more matte sheen than Chanel’s cracked patent leather, glazed calfskin has a lightly creased texture. These soft lines and creases can help to hide scratches.

Chanel’s Patent leathers

For a rigid and glossy appearance, Chanel has a selection of patent leathers. As a highly treated leather type, they can provide a dramatic twist to many handbag styles. They’re also well known for their ability to hold colour and are usually available in a vivid range of colours. However, because of this high shine finish, Chanel’s patent leather is prone to scratches and grazes. Even fingerprints can leave a mark, however these can usually be buffed away with a soft cloth.

Patent Calfskin leather

Used mainly on shoes, Chanel’s patent leather is occasionally used for handbags and small leather accessories too.

Chanel’s Patent leather on a secondhand waist belt bag from Timeless Vintage

Patent Lambskin leather

Also occasionally used on heels and boots, however, the patent calfskin leather is used much more frequently as it is more durable.

Cracked Patent Calfskin leather

Like the classic Chanel calfskin leather, the cracked patent leather has a supple feel, however, it has been treated to create a more lustrous sheen and also a creased texture.

Chanel Goatskin leather 

Chanel’s goatskin leather is occasionally used on small leather accessories, like pouches and belt bags. Chanel’s Goatskin leather is soft and supple to touch, but with a rigid form. It’s thought to be fairly durable, with a quality in-between the smooth texture of lambskin and the pebbled texture of caviar. It’s often available in a metallic and printed finish too.

Chanel Deerskin leather 

Like the Vitello Daino leather of Prada Chanel’s deerskin leather is actually calfskin that has been treated to mimic true deerskin. It has a supple feel, with a finer pebbled texture than that of the Caviar leather.

Chanel’s Exotic leathers

Like the leathers of Hermès or Louis Vuitton, Chanel has previously created bags and accessories with rare and unusual leathers. From lizards and crocodiles to stingrays and snakes.

They had long been on the radar of animal activists, however, in 2018 Chanel confirmed it would no longer sell exotic leather or fur products. Because these bags are no longer created, they tend to carry a higher price tag on the secondhand Chanel market.

Chanel Exotic Crocodile Leather 2 Way Handbag

Does Chanel use vegan leather?

Currently, there are no Chanel vegan leather products to invite into your wardrobe. However, the brand is currently experimenting with a sustainable leather called Piñatex which is created from the offcuts of pineapple plants (leaves and stalks).

3 folds of white piñatex leather with a creased texture that imitates real leather.
Piñatex fabric in white | Photo from Piñatex on Wikimedia Commons

Like the vegan leather Louis Vuitton shoe, Chanel has created a one-off gold boat hat that was made using the Piñatex material. As such an influential brand, if Chanel releases any vegan leather collections it will send ripples of positive change through the fashion industry.

Secondhand and sustainable

If your heart is set on the elegant styles and timeless designs of Chanel — but you’re trying to curate a more ethical and eco-conscious wardrobe — think secondhand. By purchasing a secondhand Chanel bag or pre-loved Chanel scarf you become the new custodian of an item that carries fashion history in every stitch, clasp and strap.


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