Different Materials Used to Make Handbags

Handbags come in many different shapes, colors, sizes, and styles, not to mention materials, leaving a wide array of choices for fashion-conscious women from all walks of life.

Want to know the various materials that go into the making of handbags? We explore them with a bit more detail:


Leather is probably the most common and the oldest known type of material used in making handbags. In general, leather is strong, durable, and abundant, and even with the advent of synthetic leather made from polyurethane (PU) material, genuine leather made from animal skin is still preferred and even more prized than ever.

Any hide of an animal can be made into leather, but the following lists the most common types of leather used for making handbags:

Cowhide – It is the most common type of leather. It is usually derived from an adult cow, which produces some of the best leather that you can find. It is strong, durable, waterproof, highly resistant to wear and tear, and extremely versatile. It can be made into different materials aside from handbags: shoes, jackets, belts, pants, and a lot more.

Where to Buy
Slim Leather Tote Handbag for 15.6-inch Laptop, Work, Office, Documents - Shoulder Bag with Top Zip
Kattee Women's Soft Genuine Leather Crossbody Bag
Heshe Womens Sheepskin Leather Handbags Fashion Shoulder Bag Tote Cross Body Purses
Sibalasi-Women Colorblock Lambskin Leather Multicolor Crossbody Bag Black Handbag Halloween Skull Studded Purse
Rossie Viren Deerskin Vintage Brown Leather Boston Top Handle Bag
PIJUSHI Embossed Crocodile Handbags for Ladies Designer Purses Top Handle Shoulder Bag


Kattee Women’s Satchel Tote Shoulder Bag

This lovely tote bag is made from genuine cowhide on the topmost layer and handles, and is guaranteed not to break or split even after many years of use. It is a roomy bag with lots of storage for your feminine essentials.

Buffalo hide – Buffalo hide is also durable like cow’s hide, but it is also surprisingly soft and flexible. Full-grain buffalo leather sports a beautiful appearance, yet it is strong enough to withstand a lifetime of abuse. It can be made into a wide variety of items that ranges from handbags to rugs.

Rofozzi Slim Leather Tote Handbag

The weathered look of this buffalo leather tote bag gives it an attractive vintage appearance. It is a surprisingly roomy handbag where you can fit anything, even a 13-inch laptop!

Pigskin – People usually associate pigskin with making footballs. But not just those! Pigskin is, in fact, tougher and more durable than cowhide – it can be even a little too stiff. Pigskin is quality hide, which can be made into many types of items, from handbags, jackets, and seat covers.

Kattee Women’s Soft Genuine Leather Crossbody Bag

This crossbody-type handbag is made from vintage waxed cowhide leather which features a long removable shoulder strap and a soft fabric lining. The brass-tone hardware of this bag adds to its premium quality and design. This bag has 1 zipper pocket and 2 open pockets to hold your cell phone, cards, sunglasses, and other daily necessities. This vintage leather handbag is perfect for shopping, working, or even dating. It comes in two color options: black and sorrel.

Sheepskin has a soft, flexible, smooth, and lightweight quality. It is often left with wool on to be made for wool coats and vests, as well as carpets, rugs, and furniture. It is not as durable as the other types of animal hide and thus should not be used for rugged items such as shoes and motorcycle jackets. However, it can be made into fashionable handbags and jackets.

Heshe Women’s Sheepskin Leather Handbag

This vivid and colorful handbag is made of sheepskin leather and polyester lining. For a small bag, it has lots of storage that can store lots of many things, including a dedicated compartment for your mobile gadgets. It can be used as a handbag, a shoulder bag, or a crossbody bag.

Whereas sheepskin is soft and smooth, lambskin is even softer and smoother. But it is also quite thin and weak, and therefore cannot be made into rugged materials such as shoes and jackets. However, lambskin is suitable for making fashionable light and delicate clothing, bags, gloves, and small purses.

Sibalasi Women Lambskin Leather Handbag

It is made of 100% lambskin leather, adorned with unusual decoration – fashionable skull studs. It comes with a chain handle and is available in two variants: black and multi-colored.

Deer and elk skin
Early Native American Indians used deer and elk hides for their clothing and shelter, that is why they have remained popular. However, deer skin is not as tough as cowhide, comparable to sheep skin. Elk hide, on the other hand, is more durable but hard to find these days.

Rossie Viren Deerskin Vintage Brown Leather Boston Top Handle Bag

An elegant handle bag made of 100% Glorious soft cervo distressed deerskin leather with gold-tone hardware. It comes with an adjustable and removable shoulder strap so that it can be worn in any way that you want. It exudes elegance in every angle, but it is also a highly functional bag where you can place and store everything you need, from makeup to mobile gadgets.

Crocodile and alligator skin
Crocodile and alligator hides look quite exotic because of their unique patterns and textures, but their quality matches their appearance. They are very tough, durable, and can last a lifetime. They can also be quite hard to work with, making them more expensive. If you want to spend your hard-earned cash and look really classy, a handbag made of crocodile or alligator hide is a wise investment.

PIJUSHI Embossed Crocodile Handbag

There is a lot of genuine animal leather (most commonly cowhide) and faux leather that come with crocodile and alligator prints but you have to be careful in order to choose the best option available. The PIJUSHI Embossed Crocodile Handbag is made from 100% genuine leather with embossed crocodile and fabric lining. It is a roomy bag with a top zip open to access the large storage. Also, it has middle zipper pockets separating the compartments, it also has 2 open pockets located on one side, while a zipper pocket complements the other side.

Snakeskin leather
Hides from snakes and pythons can look beautiful. They are thin and flexible, but not as durable as the other types of leather. They can be made into hats, belts, purses, and other light fashionable items.

Genuine Snakeskin Python Hobo Handbag

The handbag is designed in the US but made in Indonesia, and is constructed with high-quality python skin. It has three compartments: one regular compartment, one zippered compartment, and a slot for your cellphone.

Synthetic or vegan leather
Synthetic or vegan leather is not derived from any animal source. Instead, it is made of man-made materials, such as polyurethane (PU), which is also known as “faux leather.” A synthetic or vegan leather bag has the appearance and texture of a true animal leather bag although it may be not as durable as the latter, depending on how it is made.

Scarleton Stylish Reversible Tote Bag for Women

This versatile bag can be reversible, which means you can flip it into two colors, in this case: “black” and “camel.” It is a magnetic closure-style tote bag with classic gold hardware, and it also comes with a free coin purse.

Where to Buy
Genuine Snakeskin Python Hobo Handbag
Scarleton Stylish Reversible Tote Handbag for Women, Vegan Leather Shoulder Bag, Hobo bag, Satchel Purse, H1842
Aleah Wear Shoulder Tote Bag Purse Handbag For Women | For Work School Travel Business Shopping
Lam Gallery Womens PVC Clear Purse Handbags for Working NFL Stadium Approved Bag Turn Lock Chain Shoulder Bag
Lime & Soda Women's Fashion Eva Handbag - Rope Handles - Mix & Match to find your style
DOURR Hobo Handbags Canvas Crossbody Bag for Women, Multi Compartment Tote Purse Bags
MOTHER ERTH Women’s Mini Handmade Shoulder Bag - Vegan - Eco-Friendly - Sustainably Woven from 100% Upcycled Materials



FabricFabric is also a common material for making handbags, and it also comes in several classes. Cotton fabric is the most widely used type of fabric, not just for making handbags but for making other items as well.

Common light- and medium-weight fabric bags are generally cheap and not designed for fashionable purposes. However, there are fabric bags whose designs are so pretty, you won’t notice that they are made of inexpensive fabric. They are also easy to clean and fold, just like you would do with clothes.

However, bags with naturally thicker fabric are heavy, sturdy and can have the appearance of an upright bag. They can look classy too, depending on the structure and backing. Canvas is a type of fabric which does not come flimsy or cheap, and thus very suitable for making handbags. More on canvas later.

Aleah Wear Shoulder Tote Bag Purse Handbag for Women

This bag is made of 300D Oxford fabric, lined with premium polyester and zipper top closure. It is easy to clean and maintain and is resistant to wear and tear. It features two open pockets, and one zipper compartment, for convenient storage and access to all your essentials.


Vinyl is also one of the most commonly used materials for making handbags. Clear vinyl bags, as the name goes, are clear; thus, their contents can be seen. It can also be made into clear purses, clear beach bags, clear makeup bags, etc. Flannel-backed vinyl is another material used for making bags. Vinyl is glossy and therefore is waterproof and easy to wipe and clean.

People can get confused between vinyl and faux leather. If a material has a woven fabric backing, you will recognize it is vinyl and not fake leather.

Lam Gallery Women’s PVC Clear Purse Handbags

If you’ve got nothing to hide, why your own handbag should not? This clear PVC handbag from Lam Gallery is suitable for many places and occasions, such as beach holidays, concerts, or intimate dinners. It can also be a great bag for work and for day-outs with girlfriends. It comes with a stylish synthetic chain strap.


RubberYou can also find handbags that are made of rubber. In fact, there are luxury rubber handbags for women. It’s not because rubber is expensive, as it is a common material, but because the process of making rubber bags is a little complicated. Besides, not all types of rubber can be made into handbags. Thus, the combination of the quality of rubber and the process that is applied in using it, make rubber handbags the choice of many prestigious designer fashion labels.

Lime and Soda Women’s Fashion EVA Handbag

This handbag, inspired by the modern look of New York City, is made of sturdy EVA material made of foam rubber. It is stylish but also functional, lightweight, and eco-friendly. It is also a versatile bag that you can carry for many occasions such as work, beach trips, day-outs with girlfriends, or evening dates.



Canvas is a thick, durable, and coarse material made of cotton, hemp, flax, or similar yarn. While canvas is more widely known as a surface for painting, its durability makes it quite versatile that it can be made into a wide variety of items that range from sails to handbags. Unlike other fabrics, canvas is not flimsy, and thus quality bags can be made out of it.

Aside from natural canvas, there is also synthetic canvas, which is treated with a special coating to make it waterproof.

Dourr Hobo Handbags Canvas Crossbody Bag for Women

This bag is made of superior material – thick and durable 16-ounce canvas – that will last after many years of use. It requires minimal maintenance and comes with multiple big and small pockets and compartments. You can carry it as a handbag, a tote bag, or a crossbody bag. It is excellent for everyday use and every occasion.


Recycled and Upcycled Materials
The increasing awareness towards environmental care and protection, as well as sustainable enterprise over the last couple of decades, have resulted in a burgeoning market for recycled/upcycled handbags. These handbags are made of any used and discarded material you can think of – plastic bottles, cartons, coffee sacks, old canvas, foil wrappers, and even pull tabs. They are functional and fun at the same time. By patronizing manufacturers who make these eco-friendly bags, you have contributed something useful to the environment in your little way, as well as helped small cottage businesses. And that newest designer handbag? It doesn’t seem like big news to you at all.

Mother Erth Women’s Mini Handmade Shoulder Bag

This fashionable but eco-friendly and cruelty-free handbag is made and woven from different types of upcycled materials, which gives it a unique pattern and vibrant colors. You do not have to worry about its durability, because this handbag is stitched with a tight double weave, so you can feel confident knowing that it can keep your essential items securely. It also comes with a zipper, plus an embedded RFID technology, for additional security.