Exotic Leather Blog

How To Pick The Right Alligator Skin For Your Handbags

Posted by Abram Mendal on Dec 5, 2012 7:22:00 PM

Alligator Skin For HandbagsOur handbag customers frequently ask us to help them pick the right alligator skin for their handbags. The first thing we need to know is the dimensions of the main panels (usually two same-sized panels: front and back).  Our customer will usually provide those dimensions in inches, for example, 15” wide by 12” tall. We then convert that to centimeters (multiple the inches measurement by 2.55) which in this case would be approximately 39 cm wide by 31 cm tall. The larger of these dimensions (39 cm in this case) will dictate the size of the alligator we need.  We take 39 cm and add 15% to be safe and we get 44 cm. This means we need one 44 cm or larger skin for the front panel and one for the back panel. Typically, handbags customers don’t want any defects on those panels so the alligator skin should be grade 1 or 2. The alligator skin bellies are used for the two main panels and the alligator skin tail and head are used for the gussets, the bottom, the handles and other adornments.

How Skins Are Measured For Leather Clutches

On smaller bags like clutches, the front and back is sometimes made of one alligator skin panel with no seams to break it up. In that case, we need the dimensions of that whole single panel – NOT front and back separately. First, measure the width edge to edge as usual. Then use a tape measure to wrap from the top of the bag on one side (under the bag) to the top on the other side. These dimensions are usually approximately 10” wide by 10” long which converts to approximately 26 cm wide by 26 cm long. Add 15% and you get 30 cm by 30 cm. So in this example, you need one 30 cm or larger skin. Again, the belly is used for the main panel and the head and tail for everything else.

There are other ways like using large, low grade skins, which at times can be more cost effective. But typically this only works if the design calls for multiple smaller panels seamed together as opposed to fewer, larger panels.

Note Of Caution: This is meant to be a general guide and may not apply to every project. We insist that you work with a manufacturer who has extensive experience with alligator skin and double check with them to make sure you are getting the right alligator skin.

A 4 Point Checklist For Choosing The Ideal Alligator Skin For Handbags And Clutches

  1. What are the dimensions of your main panel(s)?
  2. Convert those dimensions to cm by multiplying the inches by 2.55.
  3. Add 15% to arrive at the minimum size alligator you can use for the main panel.
  4. How many panels do you have to cover in that size? That is how many alligator skins you will need in the minimum size discovered in step 3.  

And as always, if you have any questions about exotic skins for leather, do not hesitate to contact us.


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Topics: alligator skin, handbags