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Cordovan Shell is a type of leather that is occasionally used in the manufacture of high-end footwear. Unlike other leathers, it is an equine leather made from the flat fibrous connective tissue underneath the skin on the horse's rump, i.e. the good part is the part of the skin that is in contact with the animal.
The name Cordovan derives from the Spanish city of Cordoba, where it was first produced in the 7th century, and then continued to be produced by the Moroccans for several centuries. At the end of the 19th century it was discovered by the French and the English and started to be produced with relative intensity because it was mainly used to make strips for sharpening razor blades. At the beginning of the 20th century it was European tanners, who emigrated to North America, who exported this tradition and soon dedicated themselves to the most valued application at that time, which was as a material for sharpening barber's blades.
Cordovan Shell is an expensive and difficult to manufacture leather. It is obtained from the horse's rump, hence. The pieces obtained are called "shells", its American name is Shell Cordovan. They are small pieces, most of the time not even big enough to make a pair of shoes, which is the use for which it is used today and for which it has become famous during the last decade in the European fashion markets. A pair of cordovan shoes costs around 800 euros.
Unlike the skins of bovine and bovine origin, this is tanned by vegetable tannins and, as I said, is worked by the flesh and not by the grain, so the result is a smooth surface with a certain natural shine. These differences, together with its own nature, give this leather certain special characteristics that make it incomparable to any other, giving it totally different characteristics with a quality that has no comparison.
Currently, the tradition of Cordovan tanning is limited to some areas of Europe, America and Japan and in all cases the production is quite limited and therefore the product always reaches a high price. The high demand has made this leather increasingly scarce, and the current global production is practically insufficient to cover the demand for shoe production, which was not the case years ago. The world's largest producer, as well as reputed for maintaining an extraordinary regularity in the quality of its tannings, is the family-owned Horween Leather Co., an American company founded in 1905 in Chicago, Illinois, USA, which has been tanning Cordovan Shell since its beginnings.
The cordovan leather obtained by Horween achieves through its exclusive tanning process to obtain from this leather a series of singularities that opens the horizon to other alternative uses such as archery. Its specialized hot fatliquoring treatment, together with other secrets of the firm, makes it clearly different from other tanners.
Today we can find Cordovan tanners in Italy, England and Japan, but none have been able to give Horween's regular and durable finish. Its prestige is such that it is the only case in leather goods where the shoe manufacturer himself has the tanner's emblem next to his own; something that occurs in shoes as well as in wallets, belts and watch straps.
Only the Japanese have achieved a comparable quality of cordovan, although only in aspects such as softness and coloration.
The production of Genuine Shell Cordovan from Horween is very limited and this house has known how to take care of its reputation, because it does not sell this product to those who can pay for it, but to those who can work it and enhance its value even more. That is why it only sells to a few manufacturers such as Neet Products, Arizona Archery Enterprises or Tomorrow Archery Resources. It also sells to distinguished craftsmen and prestigious shoemakers.
Unlike other leathers, Cordovan Shell doesn't stretch more towards one end than the other, which makes it easier to use. In addition to its extraordinary resistance to rainwater, its most outstanding feature is the almost non-appearance of suffering wrinkles in the folds created by the tension of the bowstring.
Its maintenance and care is different from the usual leather.
As it's such a resistant and strong leather, it does not require very assiduous maintenance and, as it preserves the oils and fats of the leather, the application of creams should be done very sporadically.
Nor is it advisable to use products that are not specific for this type of leather.
The ideal is to use a mild cleaner that respects this wonderful leather.
To leave it clean, we recommend the Gentle Cleanser Saphir Médaille D'Or. Start by brushing your cordovan shell shoes with a natural bristle brush to remove dust and surface dirt.
Then, using a cotton chamois, apply a small amount of product to the cloth and proceed with cleaning in a circular motion.
Let it dry for approximately 15 minutes and proceed with the polish by brushing again with a horsehair brush.
As we have already recommended, it is best to use a specific product for this type of leather.
It is a leather that is very rich in internal oils, so it keeps very well without almost treating it.
It is still advisable to help maintain proper hydration with a cream such as Cordovan Cream Saphir Medaille D'Or.
It is best applied after cleansing and you will only need a small amount of product. Once applied, let it dry and bring out the natural sheen of the cordovan with a horsehair brush.
Here you have a video where you can find more information about this awesome shoes:
Definitely, shoes in this material are a great investment because its durability will accompany you for a lifetime.
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