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Question - Calfskin vs. Lambskin (does H. even use Lambskin?)


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Dec 5, 2008, 2:05am   #1
amargulies's Avatar
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Hello everyone,

I'm trying to gain a good understanding of the pros and cons of calfskin vs. lambskin. As I posted earlier, I'm having a custom-fitted leather case made to hold an antique women's vanity set. Since the set is French, from 1910 and very valuable, I want to use the nicest leather I can find. I love Hermès and figure they're a good benchmark for the finest leather.

Does Hermès even use lambskin for purses or briefcases? It seems like they mostly use calfskin, and that in general calfskin is considered the highest quality leather. However, lambskin can be incredibly soft - I just received some samples from Libra Leather in NY of Nappa leather (lambskin, I think) which is extremely supple. It seems to me these are softer than most calfskins. Is lambskin not typically used for purses or briefcases because it's just too delicate (although I've heard lambskin can be very durable)? Or, is it just too squishy and perhaps stretches too much - not holding it's shape? If so, I wonder whether I'd have a problem using it to cover my case which will be made out of wood (the leather would be need to be stretched taught over the wood frame). Thanks a lot for any insight you can give me. I want to use the very nicest leather I can find, and I love supple, soft and smooth grained leather. However, I'm wondering if I must balance that with other considerations. Also - if anyone has an idea, I'd love to know what type of leather would perhaps be historically correct for a very high-end leather case of this sort, in 1910 France.

Also - I'm wondering about vegetable tanning vs. chrome tanning (sounds like chrome gives a more supple leather, although I always thought vegetable tanning was the best. I thought chrome tanning is must faster, and therefore cheaper). My leather case will be tooled and gilded with some decoration, and perhaps an extremely soft/supple lambskin might not work for that? THANKS AGAIN VERY MUCH.

Adam
Dec 5, 2008, 2:34am   #2
L
PAPER DOLL
I saw some 27cm ostrich Bolides lined in lambskin.

Maybe barenia might work for your case.
Dec 5, 2008, 2:37am   #3
bags to die for's Avatar
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At H, I've seen lambskin used as lining or as pouches where a drawstring is used to close it.
Dec 5, 2008, 2:56am   #4
jaegerhomme's Avatar
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The lining appears to be lambskin and not chevre on my havane Kelly Pouchette in niloticus croc. I've also seen lambskin used in gloves.
Dec 5, 2008, 5:30am   #5
gem's Avatar
gem
...enjoying my H ...
hi, i think they do carry lambskin...

see this small pouch, extremely soft...appeared in Le Monde SS 08

Dec 5, 2008, 5:33am   #6
pursenality's Avatar
Extreme Hermès!
I have a pair of H gloves lined with lambskin. This leather is extremely soft and might not be suitable for large items.
Dec 5, 2008, 8:01am   #7
Graciella's Avatar
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I have no experience whatsoever with H (yet ), but I can say that I will never ever buy another piece of lambskin. I got a fendi spy in lamb nappa and it just fell apart. Now there is just a big gaping hole in one of the corners - it's so big I can stick my finger through it. I went back to the store and they said it is because lambskin is very delicate. They can repare it though (that basically means stitching it). If I were you I'd stick to calfskin, which is much more sturdy and will last a lot longer. Good luck deciding (and do post pics of your lovely case when it is finished)
Dec 5, 2008, 9:14am   #8
Pepper's Avatar
Raisinette
Lambskin is too delicate for large pieces. It is used to line some bags (Bolides, for example) and for small items. La Van's suggestion of Barenia given your preferences is a good one, but current availability of that leather is a problem.
Dec 5, 2008, 9:21am   #9
irishlass1029's Avatar
*sigh*
Amargulies, I agree with Pepper. ^ I love lambskin, but I do think it's too delicate for what you need.

Graciella - I can't say that I will never buy anything with lambskin again, but I can say I will never buy Fendi again. Every single thing I've ever bought (which was quite a few bags because I love their "look") from Fendi fell apart in less than a year - the last bag within 2 days! So I have a feeling it's more Fendi than the lambskin. But that's a bummer.
Dec 5, 2008, 10:45pm   #10
amargulies's Avatar
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Thanks very much to all of you for the opinions and great advice. I think you're probably right - it sounds like lambskin is probably too delicate for my case. I received these wonderful lambskin swatches from Libra Leather in NY - the perfect color (dark purple) and incredibly soft, but obviously there must be a reason why Hermès and others don't use it for bags and briefcases. And since my vanity set is from 1910, I think I should make a leather case which is capable of lasting 100 years as well. Have any of you ever heard of a way to purchase Hermès leather, to use for your own custom project? Their supplier Haas Tannery in France won't sell small quantities. I still need to call Hermès offices in Paris to ask. Otherwise, I guess I can just ask Libra Leathers what would be their finest calfskin; or contact other leather distributors. It's great to hear how H. items last so much longer than others - even top names like Fendi. I only wish I could buy actual H. leather for my case. THANKS AGAIN :)
Dec 5, 2008, 11:50pm   #11
8
880
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maybe ask docride for her opinion on the vintage thread?
Dec 6, 2008, 3:47am   #12
Graciella's Avatar
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Originally Posted by irishlass1029
Amargulies, I agree with Pepper. ^ I love lambskin, but I do think it's too delicate for what you need.

Graciella - I can't say that I will never buy anything with lambskin again, but I can say I will never buy Fendi again. Every single thing I've ever bought (which was quite a few bags because I love their "look") from Fendi fell apart in less than a year - the last bag within 2 days! So I have a feeling it's more Fendi than the lambskin. But that's a bummer.
^I guess you're right - Fendi is just crappy! I know lambskin is delicate, but some bags seem to hold up better that the fendi ones (i.e. Chanel et all). But H not using it must mean something - better stick to calf then!
Dec 6, 2008, 3:55pm   #13
a
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Isn't Lamb used for high end jackets and coats?
Dec 6, 2008, 8:19pm   #14
India's Avatar
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I've seen vintage Hermes handbags lined in lambskin - SO soft and delicious!
Dec 6, 2008, 10:42pm   #15
amargulies's Avatar
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It seems to me that from my little experience with leather, there's really nothing as soft as nice lambskin. Agree? But it sounds like lambskin is much thinner than calf and therefore more delicate/easier to rip. Plus, since it is so incredibly soft, I'd think that indicates that it's delicate as well. Calf may show scratches, but I wouldn't think it would rip very easily.

I've read that Nappa leather is lambskin that's been chrome tanned, and it seems to be about the softest leather available (I just got samples from Libra leather and they're equal to about the softest leather I've ever seen; like typical high-end glove leather). I've read that chrome tanning gives the softest leather. However, I also thought I read that chrome tanning is much quicker and cheaper - taking a day or two, while vegetable tanning takes weeks or months (therefore much more expensive). Any insight?

Either way, for my case it sounds like I should stick with calf. I certainly value what Hermès chooses and decides, and there must be a good reason they don't often use lambskin for purses (exteriors) or briefcases. THANKS ALL!
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