10 Types Of Materials For Handbags (List, Uses, and Trends)

Handbags are one of the most popular accessories for women. Before you buy a handbag, you should first decide whether it is on the expensive side or the affordable side.   

According to a Nike expert when designers design anything, the first instinct is to think about the material and the properties used in the material.

Materials, shape, size, and price are all factors that determine the durability of a handbag but materials play a primary role to determine durability.

There can be many variations of a particular material like genuine leather has 3 most used variations and moreover, grades of quality and prices may be different according to variations.

Before you buy a handbag you should also consider the use cases of that handbag whether you are buying it for formal occasions or casual occasions material will always play a vital role in a handbag. Oil wax is also applied to some handbags so that they look shiny.   

So here I will tell you about the 10 best materials for handbags that are commonly used and as well durable enough for daily use. Moreover, I will also tell you the pros and cons of using that material, What types of bags use this material, and more criteria.   

10 Best Materials For Handbags

1. Real Leather

In the fashion industry, real leather compiled from animal skin is one of the most used materials. There is a popular type of real leather which is called “genuine leather”.

top 10 Materials For Handbags - top10counts.com

What are the types of real leather?

1] Genuine Leather

You will everywhere see that a bag, belt, or any other items have a tag that says 100% GENUINE LEATHER. But in reality, genuine leather is not the most durable type of real leather. It is comparatively low-quality real leather than others.

A genuine leather product will be composed of multiple layers of low-quality leather glued together with glue and painted to look uniform. Basically, it’s made of leftover pieces of other high-quality types of real leather such as Top Grain Leather and Full Grain Leather.

This type or grade of real leather is comparatively acceptable because since it is real leather it will long last more than PU leather or synthetic leather.

2] Top Grain Leather

Top Grain Leather is a moderate level or middle-of-the-road quality of leather. You will see the vast majority of purses, belts, and leather boots of top grain leather. At present, it is the most used type of real leather in handbags.

The full-grain leather is split into two pieces, and the imperfections in the hide are sanded away before stamping a faux grain on it. Usually, it’s then treated and colored to provide a completely uniform look.

The finish of this type of leather is great. However, if you are someone who doesn’t care more about treatment and care at all then top grain leather could be yours.

Over time, it will look old and worn and will not age well like full-grain leather but still, it will last for at least 5-10 years or even more.

Also see: Best Leather Handbags Under $200

3] Full Grain Leather

Unlike other types of leather, full-grain leather contains all of the imperfections and inherent strength of the hide. So the best quality leather is full-grain leather.

Sometimes you may see full-grain leather naturally marked with imperfections from the animal, like a brand or a scar. However, products made by pricier companies won’t use these types of the flawed hide.

It is one of the best happiness that money can buy and can be used for as long as even 20-25 years. My father bought a top grain leather briefcase when I was just 2 years old. Now I’m 20 years old but still, that briefcase looks brand new. In these 18 years, the fashion industry has changed entirely but full-grain leather remains one of the top quality materials.   

Pros of Real Leather Material:

  • Real leather is so durable and sturdy.
  • It is resistant to tearing, stretching, and bending.
  • Real leather can withstand extreme temperatures.
  • It can last long for 10-20 years.
  • Real leather provide breathability properties.

Cons of Real Leather Material:

  • Stiff material to use.
  • Isn’t water-resistance.

In the end real leather is one of the most used materials in handbags.

2. PU Leather/Vegan/Synthetic Leather

10 types of materials for handbags Pu Leather - top10counts.com

The thermoplastic polymer is used to make PU leather, which can be applied to furniture, handbags, shoes, and many more. Leather that is 100% PU is called vegan leather; however, there is also a leather called Bicast leather that is real leather but has a polyurethane coating on top. 

Difference between PU leather and Real leather:

One of the main differences you gonna find between real leather or PU/vegan leather is its cost. PU leather will be less expensive than genuine leather because it is easier to produce. Another difference is that PU leather will also have a distinct smell to it and smells like plastic or something. Genuine leather is breathable and whereas PU leather isn’t breathable.

There are numerous ways to tell difference between a genuine leather product and PU leather or a fake leather product.

There are several types of artificial leather in the market including:

  • PU Leather
  • Split Leather
  • Bicast Leather
  • Bonded Leather
  • Corrected Grain Leather
  • Reconstituted Leather

Pros of Synthetic Leather Material:

  • Affordable than genuine leather due to it’s mass-production.
  • PU leather doesn’t absorb water which makes it a great water-resistance material. 
  • Vegan leather is 100% PU leather.

Cons of Synthetic Leather Material:

  • Isn’t breathable.
  • Can crack and wear over time, it doesn’t last long as long as real leather. 
  • Some PU leather also contains left-over genuine leather so it’s not recommended for vegan lovers. 

3. Canvas/Cotton Canvas

10 types of materials for handbags Canvas - top10counts.com

It is typically a woven fabric made of white cotton and canvas and is known for its strength and versatility. Canvas material is popular for handbags such as totes, crossbodies, satchels, etc.

Designers like Coach, Michael Kors, and Gucci sometimes embellish real leather bags with coated canvas. By using cotton canvas with design, the bags appear more intentional.   

Most of the canvas handbags are very affordable and depending on the budget there can be water-resistance material embedded on a layer of canvas to make a handbag water-resistance. Cotton canvas is one of the best materials for handbags.

Now that being said let’s talk about all pros and cons of Canvas material:

Pros of Canvas Material:

  • It is comparatively affordable than plenty of other material handbags such as PU leather, Nylon, Real leather. I’ve already posted a blog post on the 10 best affordable handbags in which I’ve posted handbags for under $200. Happy reading 🙂
  • Most of the canvas handbags are very affordable and are easily available in the market.
  • It’s very lightweight and easy to clean. You will probably see most of the Canvas bag weighs under 2 lbs. Cotton Canvas can be cleaned with liquid making it an easier process than cleaning a leather bag.

Cons of Canvas Material:

  • It is more difficult to keep cotton canvas bags clean, especially those in lighter colors such as white or grey
  • The materials can also wear down faster than ballistic nylon and full-grain leather depending on the quality of the material and construction.

4. Nylon 

10 types of materials for handbags Nylon- top10counts.com

Nylon is widely used on oxford fabric as coated material and also with cotton canvas and leather. So basically nylon is a synthetic type of plastic material that is made from polyamides of high molecular weight.

You will see many variations of Nylon material available including:

1] Packcloth Nylon

It is often used in designer handbags, daypacks, and backpacks with a smooth and shiny feel. But is the lowest durable nylon out of all.

2] Ripstop Nylon

Ripston Nylon is a lightweight material and is more durable than Packcloth Nylon. Ripston is popular because of its resistance to tearing properties.

3] Ballistic Nylon

It is a type of nylon fabric specially designed to be thick and durable, but also easy to clean.

Pros of Nylon Material:

  • It’s durable and easy to clean and can be used with sturdy materials such as oxford, cotton canvas, and leather.
  • Nylon handbags are quite affordable than leather handbags.
  • It comes with water-resistant properties

Cons of Nylon Material

  • Nylon is hygroscopic therefor it naturally absobs water from air.
  • It is not an UV resistance material and becomes yellow regardless of its colour.

5. Polyester

10 types of materials for handbags Polyester - top10counts.com

Polyester yarns and fibers are used in making polyester, which is mostly used in backpacks and can be found In handbags. Polyester is a synthetic polymer.  

In addition to yarns and fiber, it is also made using mixing terephthalic acid and ethylene glycol. Polyester is resistant to many chemical reactions and is durable and sturdy.   

According to SilverBobbin more than half of all retail clothes sold contain polyester.

Pros of Polyester Material:

  • Because of mass-propduction of Polyester fiber’s cost is very less.
  • It’s stable polymers make it a strong and durable material.
  • It has moisture-wicking abilities.
  • Stable Polymers provide high UV protection.

Cons of Polyester Material:

  • It is not breathable which means it doesn’t facilitate airflow.
  • Polyester isn’t biodegradable and can’t even be degradable for 50 years.
  • It generates odor because of its lacks of breathability.

6. Denim

10 types of materials for handbags Denim - top10counts.com

I’m sure you are already familiar with denim jeans and shirts. But you may not be familiar that in the market some handbags are made of denim material.

Denim is made using twill weave  The cotton twill fabric is warp-facing, meaning that the warp yarns are more prominent on the right side, and the weft threads go under two or more warp threads.  

Presently, denim is one of the trendiest and most durable materials. Whether you are a travel freak or fashion freak denim bags will be looking stylish on you.

Types of denim materials:

  • Indigo denim
  • Crushed denim
  • Stretch denim
  • Raw denim
  • Sanforized denim

Pros of Denim Material:

  • This fabric absorbs sweat well, keeps the wearer cool this giving comfort.
  • Can be made using diffrent colors.

Cons of Denim Material:

  • The elasticity is not high.
  • It is difficult for denim to wash and dry. 

7. Cordura

10 types of materials for handbags Cordura- top10counts.com

DuPont developed and created Cordura for his own products. It is a very durable and strong material. Due to the high denier count and dense weave of the “air treated” rough nylon fabric, it is water-repellent and puncture-resistant.

Pros of Cordura Material:

  • Even in harsh weather conditions, Cordura bags will remain strong and durable for a long time.

Cons of Cordura Material:

  •  Since Cordura materials are more expensive than other fabrics, such as Cotton Canvas, Cordura backpacks will be more expensive than other materials for bags.   

8. Neoprene

10 types of materials for handbags neoprene- top10counts.com

Neoprene is a family of synthetic rubbers. It has been a trendy material for backpacks because of its breathable fabric and sporty aesthetic appeal.

Even after 2-3 years, neoprene can maintain its stability. The material remains stable in a wide temperature range. Today, Neoprene is used in a wide variety of bags because of its stability and durability. 

Pros of Neoprene Material:

  • Neoprene is resistant to exposure to ozone and sunlight.
  • Neoprene also has fire-resistance properties.
  • It is tear resistant and durable. 

Cons of Neoprene Material:

  • Neoprene does not withstand oxidizing acids and other such chemicals.

9. Mesh

10 types of materials for handbags Mesh- top10counts.com

If you have ever used beach bags then you would probably be familiar with mesh material. A mesh bag is typically made of nylon or polyester mesh, which is a strong, lightweight material that can be made in a variety of styles.

Knit mesh fabrics are materials comprised of evenly spaced openings that create a breathable effect in the textile. All types of Mesh fabric come with open-hole structures.

Because of its open-hole structure, it is very lightweight to use and is durable enough for multiple uses.

Pros of Neoprene Material:

  • Due to its properties, it is extremely lightweight, possibly the lightest material for a handbag. 
  • It is resistance to mildew and is tear resistant.

Cons of Neoprene Material:

  • Water can enter your handbag because of its open-hole structure.
  • Isn’t suitable for everyday use handbags. 

10. Straw

10 types of materials for handbags Straw- top10counts.com

Beach bags, like totes and crossbody bags, are commonly made out of straw, one of the oldest materials for bag-making. Weaving it into bags gives them a timeless look and makes them easy to clean.

The chances are that, if you are a fashion freak, you have seen straw handbags on social media, or are already using them. 

Pros of Canvas Material:

  • It’s durable and very stiff material.
  • Looks vintage and classic.
  • Easily degradable

Cons of Canvas Material:

  • Mold and moisture pose significant risks.
  • It is not fire resistance  

FAQs: Types of Materials for Handbags

What material is used to make handbags?

These are the foremost materials used to make handbags:- 1] Real Leather, 2] Synthetic leather, 3] Cotton Canvas, 4] Nylon, 5] Polyester, 6] Denim 7] Cordura 8] Neoprene 9] Mesh 10] Straw Woves

What is the best material for a bag?

Durable and sturdy fabrics such as genuine leather, PU leather, canvas, denim, twill, and plenty more are used in tote bags. However, if you are looking for a best material for a bag then real leather is best for a long-term purchase. And on a budget, canvas fabric could be one of the best choices.   

What leather is best for bags?

Cowhide full-grain leather is considered the highest quality material when purchasing a leather handbag. Cowhide leather is not only durable but also aesthetically pleasing.

Is cow leather good for bags?

Yes, cow leather is very durable leather along with its looks.

So these are the 10 best materials for handbags.

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