For meticulous fashion insiders, hardware is the telltale sign of an expensive bag. For most, however, texture is the true "real estate," the element that says how much a bag goes for. Animal skins have always been the most expensive.
Ostrich bags are marked by circular spots the size of green peas. Up-close, the surface has various shades—the wrinkled areas are darker than the rest of the skin. The surface is supple and bumpy.
Many use the word "exotic" to describe ostrich skin, referring to its rarity as much as its looks. Of course, something this uncommon is priced as a luxury item. Louis Vuitton's Alma BB, made of pearled ostrich skin, retails for $7,350. A more mindblowing one is Victoria Beckham's pink ostrich Hermes Birkin, reported to be worth about 100,000.
Calfskin leather is known for its softness and fine grain. It is also used in bookbinding, which speaks a lot about its durability. The most precious variety of calfskin, veau velours, has a texture similar to suede and is used in Louboutin bags.
Many designers have made snakeskin a base for color patterns. Gucci, which has taken on a luxe-experimental look, has a variegated snakeskin bag called Nymphea. The mosaic-like texture of python is another extravagant choice. Fendi's Mini Peekaboo has map-like spots in not just two, but six colors.
Expect nothing less than a statement from crocodile accessories. They are striated, featuring grooves that define the squares of the skin.
The most-talked about crocodile bags from luxury brands are shiny and structured and are worth a pretty penny. In 2015, Fortune reported that an Hermes croc bag was sold for $222,912 at a Christie's auction in Hong Kong.
For those who are opposed to the use of animal skins, luxe vegan bags are a stylish option. Stella McCartney uses vegetable coating in her Falabella bags, and they look uncannily like leather.
Source: The Fashion Dictionary by Emily Angus, Macushla Baudis, and Philippa Woodcock