Saffiano Leather Is it Leather or Plastic?

Have you noticed that “Saffiano” leather is all the rage right now in handbags?  It is not a new leather byany means, and I don’t know if it is because it’s a ‘springtime’, but I’m seeing it in every retail store from high to low.

Ferragamo and Prada use it.  Now more moderate retailers are getting into the market with this not so new way of creating handbags.
I was made away of this when I was searching for a tote for myself and all I could come up with was a Saffiano leather tote.  Coach, Michael Kors, DKNY and even Target has themMerona Saffiano Crossbody Bag

Prada Saffiano Handbag

I thought you’d like to know what’s so special about  Saffiano leather?

  Saffiano Leather Treatment

These are two photos that show the markings of a bag made from saffiano leather

Saffiano Leather

The leather is stamped in a method which renders the bag, briefcase or tote virtually scratch resistant and easy to clean.  In a series of cross-hatch designs the leather is rendered very resistant to stains and scratches.  It makes a great leather for business bags and briefcases.

I think Saffiano leather treatment is a personal thing.  I tend to like the look and feel of glove leather, but this can require more TLC.  So if you are someone who is hard on your handbag or tote, I’d recommend that you take a look at this treatment.It isn’t new, it’s just finally making it’s way down to the mass market

What are your thoughts about Saffiano Leather?  Do you think it looks luxurious or do you think it looks like Plastic?

“Look Good, Feel Great and Have FUN Doing It!”

Comments

  1. I have the Michael Kors large saffiano tote in turquoise and the Coach large saffiano city tote in coral and I love them both, very durable. Personally I’m quite hard on my handbags so saffiano leather is perfect for me, i don’t have to pamper it. The fact that it has a coating on it really makes it a very low maintenance leather, no need to use leather cleaner or moisturizer.

  2. You are right about the low maintenance! I was in the coach store watching a customer discuss the cleaning/moisturizing her leather bag. Thanks for the additional comment regarding maintenance. It definitely is an added plus.

  3. Thanks for explaining this. I just bought the Michael Kors large North/South tote in Luggage today. I was iffy about buying it because the leathers seemed so stiff and plastic to me. So I decided to do some research to get a better understanding of the material. I’m glad to know I didn’t waste my money on plastic. I hope it stands the test of time like the Dooney’s and Coach’s I’ve had in the past.

  4. You are welcome Alicia! I know it can be difficult. Even for the most seasoned professional. Handbags are such an individual expression!

  5. As a straight man, I think it looks very plastic & feels plastic. The problem with this is the underlying leather quality itself. With saffiano, lower quality leather like corrected & pigmented leather from China can be substituted, and no one would know the difference. If you treat it the bag well, the “fraud” can go on for years. This is how Michael Kors & Coach are able to compete. As a straight man, I’ve noticed, COACH has changed their life-time warranty to now a year and even less than that in some places.

    Personally I like The Medium Orchard in Heritage Grain Leather. The touch & feel of the 100% calfskin is to die for. I’m straight.

    http://us.burberry.com/store/womens-bags/the-orchard/prod-38828221-the-medium-orchard-in-heritage-grain-leather/

    Karen here’s my straight questions. What is Sartorial heritage? Also what is that the bubbly effect on the back called? How is it done? Its like a pebbled effect on the calfskin.

  6. Michael — what does being a “straight man” have ANYTHING to do with this question?

  7. I don believe its leather its a lie.

  8. I think its another way of getting money from high end spenders. Plastic has a nice feel.

  9. As a straight woman, lol, i too think saffiano leather looks very plastic. Those Prada look cheap and the price isnt justified, i get the same looking fake leather handbag from Korea. I prefer soft-looking leather bag. However Michael Kors totes do look chic and the price is justified.

  10. I absolutely adore Saffiano leather!
    Lol, I can finally put a name to the this type of leather. Thank you for writing this article.

    As Michael from the comments section said, Sartorial leather is absolutely gorgeous. I’ve owned wallets in the past with Sartorial detailing, but as someone who isn’t known to take care of her own goods, my record is two weeks before scuffs appear.

    I actually hadn’t put much thought into the Saffiano leather appearing plastic-y, but that’s definitely something to contemplate about as I stare at the new wallet I bought today (tan, Saffiano).

  11. Thank you for this, it’s really helpful. I am seeing it everywhere too and have been wondering what it is.
    Personally, I like leather to look, smell and feel like leather so you have just saved me from making an expensive mistake.

  12. Cassandra T says:

    I mean, if you have to say you’re straight 3 times in 1 comment you might not be lol..

    I just bought a MK purse today (the large selma zip-top tote) in the metallic snakeskin which is saffiano leather. I think it feels more plastic-y than the typical leather used for handbags BUT I’m in my early 20-s so I’m not looking for something that is high maintenance to clean/etc. This is the perfect material for this type of bag bc it is perfect for traveling & therefore somewhat rough handling. Thanks for the interesting article ;)

  13. Saffiano leather while arguably low maintenance and “trendy” is exactly the opposite of what leather stands for – supple and soft natural material. Call me old-fashioned but why would someone pay top dollars to turn a perfectly gorgeous hide into a plastic-ky looking artificial material is beyond me. I thought, that’s what synthetic material was for. Only if the fashion industry worked solely on logic. Designer trends are what drive the popularity of a material and who could accuse trends to be illogical?

  14. Saffiano leather is low-quality leather with a pattern stamped on it (the cross-hatching, etc.) and the color just on the outside. It does feel plastic because it is hard, not supple like good leather. I found out that using this material for purses started with the couture designers–Prada, Ferragamo, etc.–a few years ago on some of their goods. Now, I feel better that I can’t afford Prada.

  15. Sounded like me trying to re-tell the info above–sorry, not so. Got interrupted and distracted. Anyway, I want to ask if a saffiano leather tote would stand-up to hard use for a year or so and still look good? What happens to the material after awhile? Good leather gets softer. Does “saffiano” get soft, harder, broken, dented? I would be interested to find out about those things.

  16. No the leather does not get softer like other leathers. It is treated and therefore tends not to soften over time. A good Saffiano should also not crack but all leathers should be treated with a leather lotion to keep supple and smooth. Kind of like putting lotion on your skin…Leather is a skin and should be treated that way.

  17. When I first saw the saffiano bags I thought they looked great with the bonus of being scratch-resistant. So I got a Michael Kors bag. Meanwhile I happened to check ebay, and noticed that certain MK used bags (recent saffiano models) were already on the market, each with tears from normal use where the leather was folded over to form a smooth edge, and obviously the reason their owners were already selling them (and no, I don’t think those were fakes, although I suppose that’s always a possibility).
    Alarm bells went off my head about durability, my own bag looked cheap more than classy every time I looked at it (the novelty clearly having worn off) and all the makers churning out the same saffiano bags, none of them really looking any better; meanwhile I yearned and appreciated the natural flow and texture of non-saffiano bags.
    Finally one online reviewer wrote that an insider told her these saffiano bags are not actually leather – I don’t know how this could be true unless the Chinese manufacturers are pulling the wool over Michael Kors and co., but still that was the last straw…

  18. Pamela Hammer says:

    Suzy, I have used a Ralph Lauren saffiano leather tote every day for 6 months and it still looks brand new. My daughter has the same tote and she is a student who commutes so hers gets much more wear. She has had it for almost a year, uses it almost daily and said it is still in “amazing condition.” It is a stiffer leather, and it hasn’t softened. It has not dented or cracked.

  19. Am considering getting the Michael Kors East West Zip Top saffiano tote but am hesitating whether this type of leather may be too “stiff”? Can I get some views? Or maybe I should stick with the normal leather tote?

  20. My preference is natural leather, but I think it depends on how hard you are on your handbags. The saffiano is very sturdy leather.

  21. I recently purchased the Michael Kors large Hamilton siffano leather handbag & I absolutely adore it! In addition to it being very durable. I previously purchased the regular leather handbag (same handbag & style) I didn’t like hwasow soft it was so I returned it & purchased the siffano, although the siffano was about $50 higher. I was in Dillards New Years day & this older lady who was carrying a Coach bag, got out of line and came overn to look @ my bag & complimented me on the handbag and said that “the silver trimming made it look elegant”. I love this bag… now I need to purchase the wallet.

  22. I just bought a wallet from Victoria Secrets, I was not convinced it was leather I thought it was plastic. Turns out it is saffiano leather. I think I prefer natural leather.

  23. I bought a beautiful Furla saffiano leather tote in Europe back in September of last year. The leather doesn’t look like plastic, but it has a chic, polished and modern look. I also bought a Kate Spade saffiano leather last December and I took it to a trip overseas for 2-weeks. I am happy to report that after 15 days of carrying this cross body bag, I couldn’t find any scratches on it. It looks like new. I like structured bags that can stand when I place them on a flat surface. Saffiano leather bags can do that. I also purchased a beautiful calf skin Coach leather bag 5 months ago. I have to be extra careful with this bag. Yes, it’s beautiful, but I don’t wear it as much because it scratches easily and can get dirty easier than my saffiano leather bags.

  24. Wow I never knew there were so many opponents to saffiano leather! I personally love the chic look, as well as the fact that it is low maintenance. I don’t find it cheap-looking either. I like that it keeps the shape of my bags and it being (possibly) fashioned out of non-leather is a huge plus to me because I get to avoid guilt over cruelty issues associated with real leather.

  25. I think Cynthia and I have the same bag. I, too, bought the large Michael Kors Hamilton in gray saffiano leather with silver trim and hardware. I’m glad I read this article because I was considering taking it back. I have way too many handbags in my collection, and the fact that I bought two MK bags the same day (I got the monogram jet set tote too) added considerably to my guilt. I did check the MK website last night and noticed the gray saffiano Hamilton wasn’t available anymore so I am holding on to mine. I think it’s beautiful and functional and I think the stiffness of the saffiano leather aids the structure of the bag. I, too, questioned if the leather was genuine so thanks for silencing my doubts. I am a niche leather collector. I find a leather I like and collect bags of that material. I started out collecting Prada’s spazzolato leather bags, then I really got into Dooney and Burke’s Cabrioleather. This is my first saffiano leather bag. Now I know it won’t be the last.

  26. I personally love structured purses that holds their shape well. I do agree saffiano leather looks rather plastic-y, but it’s a practical and affordable alternative to expensive, thick, sturdy leather that gets easily scratched.

  27. Kathry Mariani says:

    I have admired my grey Michael Kors JetSet TravelEast West tote, and I am skeptical as well about this material. It clearly claims to be leather, but I can’t get over the plastic feel of this bag. I purchased the bag yesterday, and I am wondering if I have been duped. I love the structure of the bag, and it is beautiful to look at. But for $300, I really wish I wasn’t feeling like I am playing with a toy. It is extremely plastic-like and doesn’t have any qualities of real leather. I am disappointed in this feature because I really saved and looked forward to buying it. I would re-think another purchase of anything made out of this material.

  28. No, you haven’t been duped. It is a method of embossing the handbag. Personally, I am not one for the embossed fabric, but it is a good solid bag. As a matter of fact, I did buy an oversized tote that I use both for a computer bag and handbag when I have to carry multiple things. I accidentally spilled a bottle of water in it and the bag thankfully wasn’t damaged. So, there are valid reasons for the fabric! Don’t be disappointed. It will serve you well!
    I tried a pair of shoes that had it in the detail but did not buy them because it felt like cheap leather though. Not there yet on the shoes! Thanks for your comment.

  29. hello Karen!
    i have just talked to the one of the best fahionette online here in Germany and related me about Saffiano leather. It is a kind of manufactured/textured leather. the outerspace of the leather is made of special patent formula made by Prada and the body of it is genuine leather. It is a high quality leather, with a long life!

  30. I purchased a Michael Kors Saffiano handbag in a deep royal blue. I get compliments on it all the time, especially on the color. The leather is very durable and looks great after several months of daily use. It is very stiff though, and I cannot cram as much stuff into the bag as I can with more flexible leather.

  31. Even Quebec (Canada) leather brand “Danier” has a line of beautiful saffiano handbags and accesories which is the first time the brand has excelled into high-fashion design. Saffiano leather is comparable to Chanel’s caviar finish on their 2.55 handbags, which is scratch resistant and also much better than LV’s coated canvas or faux epi leather finishes.

  32. Thanks Savone for the heads up on Danier line of Saffiano! I’ll be on the lookout for it!

  33. I saw a very pretty Michael Kors large Selma tote in pearl grey online but wanted to check out the Saffiano leather in person, so I headed to my local Macy’s. They had it in several colors, but not the pearl grey. Unfortunately, I thought it looked and felt very stiff and cheap. Not worth $358 to me.

  34. For anyone that’s thinking their saffiano leather bag looks cheap and feels stiff, think again! I bought a $450 coach bag that’s a bright, pretty fuchsia color and was initially just a little skeptical about the leather. BUT, the other day I was at H&M and right now they have several totes that are faux saffiano leather, and you can DEFINITELY tell they’re not the real deal! Compare your genuine saffiano leather bag to their fake one and you’ll instantly feel a lot better about your purchase! You can tell just by looking at the H&M bag that it’s cheap and when you touch it isn’t flexible at all- i feel like it would be really uncomfortable to carry around. For me the saffiano is great because I don’t tend to treat my handbags with the TLC they deserve; i’m a college student- ain’t nobody got time for that! ;)

  35. I think the saffiano leather is over-praised! It looks and feels like plastic and it is not all that solid either. I bought a Michael Kors saffiano bag just to see what this was all about. It does get stains that can be hard to remove and easily get scratches too. And the scratches in the saffiano leather is VERY visible. The handles are quite thin and look cheap and I am afraid they will crack or break every time I use the bag. The open jetset bag often get cracked around the edges so at least I chose one that closes with a zipper. But I would not recommend it!

  36. A good Saffiano leather bag shouldn’t crack or break. I would question whether or not your MK bag is an impostor rather than the authentic saffiano leather. Saffiano leather is a true leather that has been stamped with the cross-hatching and is honestly a high quality easy to wear/carry bag.
    Although it is not my leather preference, as you can see many do like and recommend it. Sorry you have had a bad experience with it!

  37. Thank you for this article. I am not very knowledgeable about leather and have been looking for a new bag online. The one thing I know is that I don’t like this type of leather and was wondering what it was called. Now I know to avoid anything with Safianno in the description. These things are all a matter of taste , but this just always looks cheap to me no matter how well made or expensive the bag is.

  38. well, Saffiano does last much longer than usual leather material. My mom has an Aigner Saffiano and i pointed it out as a knockoff at the very first sight if she didn’t tell me that was authentic one. Please note it “at the very first sight”, but when i paid a closer look, the softness and the shines could tell me that it’s not a knockoff. Saffiano leather is luxurious in its own way, but it just takes away the feel of genuine leather when you touch it.

  39. Gail Young says:

    I love feel of a bag as much as the appearance. I think Saffiano bags are pretty, but they don’t have the leather feel that I enjoy.

  40. You are welcome Julie. I actually bought a Stella and Dot tote that is a Saffiano Leather and have been quite happy with it. I don’t like the leather for my every day bag but it’s a great leather for a tote!

  41. Coach has not changed their warranty, I know for a fact since I work for Coach.

  42. Not sure what you are referring to Brian? Glad to hear that Coach has a great warranty. I’m a fan of Coach and have loved their newest leather additions!

  43. I bought a Saffiano leather tote from Coach online because I didn’t know what “Saffiano” meant. I took it back because it looks cheap and is stiff leather. Actually, it cost a lot less than pebble leather or the other softer leathers, so it must be cheaper to make. However, I am having trouble finding a tote without Saffiano leather and might have to resort to it. I got to this website because I wanted to know if Saffiano was not really leather.

  44. I own a lot of high quality handbags including Louis Vuitton, Prada, Chanel, Gucci, and even a Hermes (and I only purchase from the actual stores). I recently purchased the Michael Kors Large Hamilton in Saffiano leather and LOVE IT. First of all this style of handbag looks better in a stiffer leather otherwise it ends up being slouchy when the leather is too soft. Saffiano leather is NOT new and has been used in Italy for years. Mario Prada himself was involved in the creation of Saffiano leather. For handbags that you wish to retain shape I think the Saffiano is a great option. Makes me wonder if some of the commenters here have ever owned a nice leather briefcase as they are frequently made with Saffiano leather.

  45. Thanks Tamara for your comments. This has been a widely discussed and I appreciate your comments!

  46. to Karen: can you tell me more about the stella and dot bag you got? I just received the madison tech bag in black and I was disappointed when I first looked at it! It seems so plastic-y like it will crack with use. How has your held up? On the site it says saffiano material, is that different than saffiano leather?

  47. I too bought the Madison Tech bag http://www.stelladot.com/shop/en_us/p/accessories/designer-handbags-wallets/madison-tech-bag-poppy in the poppy color. I have had it for almost a year now and have really enjoyed using it. It serves as my ‘business bag’ when I have to take my computer to a location for a presentation and I throw my wallet and lipstick in there so I don’t have to take another handbag. I also take it as a shopper on a weekend away and throw a clutch in it to serve multipurposes. I have been very pleased and quite honestly surprised how much I have used it.
    More importantly, there is not a day that I use it that someone doesn’t compliment me on the color or how great it is. Just this week at a meeting with people from all over the country some ladies from New York said how much they loved it. I mentioned it was a Stella and Dot and they just smiled! Let me know how you use yours!

  48. Hello, I just bought 3 bags from Coach on line. I bought them because of the pretty colours. I was disappointed by the strong smell of plastic in the bags. Not the usual lovely leather smell. I looked up this Saffiano Leather to see if it was really leather and not the coated cotton that some of the manufacturers are using now. When I spend my money for leather, I want leather. Scared of how it will look in one year from now. Thanks for the comments I have been reading. Now I must make my decision.

  49. I have enjoyed reading all your feedback on Saffiano. I sell Stella & Dot and I am asked about this all the time. It does clean well and hold up well over time and perfect for those bags that need to serve many purposes! Happy you all love your Madison totes. We have several new bags using this leather and they are all fab. Especially if you are hard on your bags! Check out the Shift, Avalon Tote and the incredibly bright fun double clutches with laser cut Saffiano!! Even water doesn’t bother them!!

  50. I am finding that my clients love the saffiano leather for the price point and the durability. The collection from Stella & Dot is Chic and Functional. The pop of color and the perforated technique is so fresh for spring/summer.
    Karen has the briefcase (the Madison Tech Case) in the poppy color and loves it!
    See more on my website at http://www.stelladot.com/sites/buffiesblings

  51. I just purchased a Brahmin large Duxbury Monaco satchel which is in the saffiano leather. Yes, it is leather. For this type of bag, it works very well. I believe for a tote, business bag and stand-alone satchels, this style of leather lends itself to being durable and stylish. It holds the shape, artistry of the bag design. I really like my bag in this type of leather. Glove leather would not suite this style of satchel. The design of a bag should decide what leather it should wear!

    My Opinion,

    Lisa

  52. Plastic! Gross, not the least bit luxurious, huge waste of leather and money. I don’t often carry a purse but went shopping for one yesterday, medium and high end stores I was shocked by all this plasticky garbage at even more shocking prices. If it has a purpose, if it is a trend, then I would expect some, but every bag in every store? If I wanted something that looked and felt like plastic, I’d buy plastic, even faux leather and pleather are far nicer than this crap!

  53. Saffiano Leather is a method of embossing leather and true Saffiano is not ‘crap’ as you say. I am not a big fan of handbags made out of it but as I have stated I have purchased a tote made out of it because this tote gets a ton of wear and tear. I need something that will take the abuse and this does it.
    You do need to know what you are looking for and appreciate the manufacturing process. It appears that you are neither a fan nor appreciative of either. In your case, I would definitely NOT add it to my wardrobe.

  54. I just bought six bags from the luxury brand named Myriam Schaefer. Why I got six bags, because I am addicted to her collection and the bag is made from Saffriano leather. The leather has an excellent quality and it is very durable.

  55. Diane Hellman says:

    I purchased a Coach large satchel in Saffiano Leather last year in Ivory. It stained from rubbing up against my jeans. I can’t get it out no matter what I use, The material is cheap looking, and not worth the money, I will never buy a purse made out of Saffiano leather again, when I can get a real leather purse for the same price, I think it’s overrated.

  56. That’s unfortunate Diane. Real leather would also stain as well. I’ve had this happen to me before. It’s not as much the leather it is the dying process. I’m VERY careful when I have lighter bottoms on to NOT have my handbag rub against. Thanks for your input though.

  57. I’m not familiar with Myram Schefer. That is a LOT of bags though. Hope you enjoy!

  58. I have the Stella & Dot bag made of Staffiano. It is certainly the most durable tech bag I’ve ever owned. It’s also extremely easy to zip and unzip which is great for a working mom with my hands full all the time.

  59. I purchased the Coach Madison tote. It’s Cornflower (grey-blue) which works fine but after two weeks of using the bag it has several scratches on both sides of the bag. I am not a fan of the Saffiano leather. The zipper closure on the bags shows the “leather” rippling which looks inexpensive. I will be taking this back to Nordstoms.
    I think leather with more of a pebble finish really lasts and the leather conditioning really keeps it looking great. This Saffiano is not effected by the conditioner.
    Thanks for all the feedback from others, it just supports my thoughts on this type of leather. I paid $328 for the bag, it does not have the look or feel for this price.

  60. Bargainista says:

    Why pay for Michael Kors – his bags are in the bins at TJ Maxx

  61. “Why pay for Michael Kors…” when you can get them at TJ Maxx, you ask … well … TJMaxx might not carry the style or the color of the bag you are looking for. It’s a crap shoot. Sometimes you’re lucky and sometimes your not. If you don’t care about the style and are good with whatever’s “in the bin”, more power to you. I for one, like to shop for the “perfect” handbag and I like to have mutliple choices. Though it’s quite possible, I have yet to see a Saffiano MK bag at the discounted stores like TJMaxx. I’m not dissing the discount stores (I’ve purchased MK bags from them) but they are not the end-all-be-all.

  62. Thank you, everyone for your comments and helpful sharing. I’ve had minimal experience with Saffiano leather but in general I find myself preferring soft leather for it’s look, smell & feel. However I am considering purchasing the MK Large Hamilton Saffiano leather tote and have wondered if Saffiano is a better choice considering the height of the bag. In my experience I think a softer leather would begin to slouch and eventually reduce the classiness of this particular bag. Tamara’s comment from March 16th confirmed this. Thank you – so helpful!

  63. All interesting remarks… however, I just purchased a MK Saffiano Leather tote from Nordstroms on line, IF it does not meet up to my satisfaction, I will simply take it back. Pretty simple -

  64. I still love my soft pebble leather handbags. They hold up for years. I did buy the saffiano wallet though. I love the look of soft leather. Can’t imagine a hard leather handbag.

  65. Hi,

    I’ve just bought a Saffiano Prada bag and this leather looks like and smell plastic!
    This bag looks very cheap comparing to Louis Vuitton hand bags… I hope she will like it.
    In my opinion I just can’t believe that’s leather!

  66. I recently purchased a white Kate Spade carryall made of saffiano leather. I, too, am not a big fan of saffiano simply because leather, in my opinion, should be soft, and supple. However, having said that, I found that my white leather handbags just don’t hold up for more than a season. They get dirty, scuffed and scratched way too easily and it is just too noticeable in the color white. I can get away with it more in my darker colored bags. Also, I find cleaning these white leather bags is no fun and they just don’t look the same. So, I decided to try a white saffiano for the summer. Personally, I love it! It has held up well this summer, looks good as new. For the rest of the year, I like my regular soft leathers. Yumm!

    One other thing….I saw a few posts from people saying they have the MK jet set east/west travel totes and the MK medium travel totes. I hope people are aware that MK makes their signature totes out of PVC, NOT Saffiano leather. They have leather trim. I own the PVC medium travel tote and I love it but it is NOT leather. It holds up very well though and real easy to clean with a damp cloth and a little dishwashing liquid. I can really knock it around. However, they are EXPENSIVE, almost as expensive as the Saffiano leather ones. PVC is a form of plastic. I know a couple of people who get the PVC mixed up with the Saffiano leather and they thought they bought leather and they did NOT. However, MK and other designers are very clear about what you are getting so you need to check the labels and do your homework before purchasing. Unlike a few previous comments, the PVC MK bags and Coach PVC hold up very well and something is wrong if they are falling apart. It should not fall apart. They are still expensive. I like my PVC bags and my new Saffiano leather bag strictly for the durability.

  67. Great contribution to this post Kathy! Thanks for adding the info about MK!

    Yours In Style!
    Karen

  68. Karen, thank you so much for the information about Saffiano leather. I just purchased a satchel from Dooney & Bourke because I fell in love with the look and size of the bag. I am very happy with my purchase but wanted to know more about the leather. Thanks again.

  69. Hello fashionistas, i need help in buying authentic bags, starting with dkny? How would i know if the bag is real or not, does it come with authenticity card like louis vuitton or prada?

    Thanks!

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