Adriana Castro Saiph Clutch, Caiman fuscus crocodile, $1550; Chanel Matte Alligator $39,450
So it turns out that croc bags are extremely environmentally friendly. Crocodile farms are required to release 10% of their population back in to the wild. This is significant because in the wild only 5-10% of crocodile eggs reach maturity (they lay about 50 eggs at a time so this isn’t a lot) but on a farm the percentage goes way up to 85%. So in effect, we are contributing to their repopulation with each bag we buy. In Colombia, the government is allowed to go to a farm and hand pick which crocodiles gets released. Mature adults have a higher survival rate in the wild so of course those are the ones they pick. Not that we really needed any more encouragement for our obsession but after the story of me wearing an exotic Adriana Castro bag to an eco-friendly fashion event, this fact was pointed out to me. Of course, I couldn’t keep this little tid-bit to myself!
I of course had to ask my source the question everyone has, what is the difference between crocodiles and alligators? The easiest way to tell is by their snout. Alligators have a “U” shaped snout and crocodiles have a pointier “V” shaped noses. In the picture C is the alligator and D is the crocodile (photos courtesy of: Wise Geek). Generally speaking, alligators are bigger, they can grow to 14-15 feet but the saltwater crocodile, the largest specie, can get to 17-18 feet. The more affordable crocodile bags are made from animals that are 2 years old, obviously the bigger the scale, the bigger the price tag. Crocs are lighter in color, a nice olive brown and alligators are almost black. Alligators live in fresh water while crocodiles like brackish salt water and also live in the ocean.
Left: Alligator, Right: Crocodile
But the most important difference is the integumentary sense organs on crocodiles that alligators do not have. It is unclear why crocs have them and alligators do not but these organs are easily detected on the edges of each scale. They appear as dots or dimples and you know what that means for us. Alligators have a pristine scale while crocodiles are literally rougher around the edge. This is how you can tell if a bag is crocodile or alligator and this is why Chanel only uses alligator. The skin always looks perfect, almost fake, on a Chanel. If you think about a crocodile bag, you notice that it is a bit rough and rustic, but never a Chanel. But a well made young crocodile bag still a damn good bag and seriously, the decision is never between a $40,000 bag vs a $2200 bag. For me, this Chanel is not even something I spend time fantasizing about.