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Alligator vs. Crocodile Handbags

LaNae helps you tell the difference between exotic reptile skins.

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Alligator vs. Crocodile

Which bag swims from the Nile?

The need to know on the exotic bag to go.

If you’re on the hunt for a luxurious new handbag, there’s no doubt that you’ve crossed paths with various wild skins of the animal kingdom. 

These ferocious beasts appear undeniably similar, so I’m here to give you the low down on how to tell the difference between them, as well what's good to know before you buy!

There are 2 main types to know, Alligator and Crocodile, but they have several distinguishing factors between them. There are also variations of origin between Crocodile skins as well, Saltwater and Caiman

Alligator and Saltwater Crocodile are in the big high end league. Companies like Hermes, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and The Row have bags made out of the highest quality skins and can be up to $65,000. High quality Caiman (or fresh water Crocodile) is used in designer bags such as Nancy Gonzalez, YSL, Gucci, Givenchy, and Bottega Venetta. With a big brand name comes a big brand price… The interesting thing about Caiman Crocodile is that it can be found anywhere from $1,000 up to $35,000 depending on the designer name and style of the bag, but as a consumer, it’s important to ask yourself if you are just wanting to pay for a label or if you are looking for quality at the best price. 

Lower quality Caiman is a result of a poor tanning process, which leaves the skin feeling firmer and will have cracks along the lines of the skin texturing when folded and bent. Higher quality skins are much more soft and pliable, this extra soft pliability results in brighter and more even coloring when dyed. 

Now, one of the most recognizable differences between alligator and crocodile is the unique dot patterning found only on crocodile scales as a result of tiny hair follicles (pores) that the alligator, and all other exotic reptiles lack.  A great example of a high quality Caiman bag is the Betts Crocodile Handbag in which you can easily spot the pore pocks on a natural brown skin.

On the flip side though, alligator skin has one unique umbilical web scar which is basically always incorporated into the bag design in a prominent way to keep the identification and authenticity obvious, as seen in the narrowing pattern on the back of the Jen Foldover Bag.

It’s important to remember that there are also a lot of tricky faux exotic skins on the market, that with technology, are becoming more and more indistinguishable. Faux crocodile and alligator is often pressed and embossed leather with a repeating pattern and a much lower price point, and the lower price tag is really the biggest give away.

For more information about the quality of bags we sell visit our post here and check out our entire line here.