Recently I have been dealing with a lot of exotic skin Hermès bag. Only last week I managed to purchase a 25cm Ombre Lizard Birkin for one of my clients and was also asked if any of my clients might be interested in a Bouganvillea Crocodile Constance that had become available. What I find interesting about exotic crocodile skin bags, are their backgrounds and the detail that goes into making these exclusive bags. Hermès has two sources for their skins – farms in northern Australia for their Crocodile Porosus bags, and from the Nile in Africa, mostly in Zimbabwe, for their Crocodile Niloticus bags.
Hermès has in fact resorted to farming crocodiles in Australia to keep up with the increasing international demand for their world famous crocodile skin handbags, including the popular Birkin design. Every year thousands of saltwater crocodiles are bred on farms in Queensland and the Northern Territory for the purpose of exporting their skin to Paris to be transformed into one of the world’s most sought after accessories, with three to four crocodiles being used to make one bag! The reason for this is that although Porosous and Niloticus crocodiles can grow up to six and five metres long respectively, it is only the belly of the crocodile that is used to make the bags.
Hermès produces in the region of 3,000 crocodile skin bags a year, some of which can fetch over £50,000, in the case of the Himalaya Birkin for example. The Porosus crocodile species is considered among the best of the international reptile population to use for luxury goods because of their texture, scale and pattern. Like human fingerprints, every saltwater crocodile has an individual pattern adding more value to every unique, expertly crafted handbag.
So if you are not an expert, how does the untrained eye tell the difference between these two exclusive leathers? It requires a little piece of unique Hermès identity. The Crocodile Porosus has a circumflex (^) symbol expertly stamped by the craftsmen nearby the Hermès logo, where as the Crocodile Niloticus has an umlaut symbol (¨) stamped in a similar fashion.