Shell Cordovan Horween

The Horween Leather Company has set the standard for the highest quality leathers since 1905. Horween offer a wide range of tannages from their vegetable tanned Genuine Shell Cordovan to Sport Leathers and Footwear Leathers, such as Chromexcel. As always, all of leather is processed at their location on the corner of Elston and Ashland in Chicago, Illinois, USA.

Genuine Shell Cordovan is the art of tanning at its finest. More than just a color, it is a very specific leather, from a particular part of a horsehide. The irregular oval shaped shells are tanned, stuffed, shaved, and then polished – a process taking at least six months. Each shell is slowly steeped in gentle vegetable liquors. The shells are genuine hot stuffed then slicked onto glass frames to dry. Each shell is hand curried and shaved by highly skilled artisans to expose the shell. Dyes are hand rubbed on for a deep aniline finish. Finally, the shells are hand glazed to achieve the rich, glossy look and feel prized by fine craftsmen.

Felix hand scraping shell cordovan before oiling and curing.

These piles of Shell Cordovan will next be trimmed before going back into the tanning pits for another 30 days. The full vegetable tanning process of 60 days is broken into two parts.

Shell Cordovan drying on glass, around days of tanning

Shell cordovan being pasted to glass frames after hot stuffing. Hot stuffing is the process Horween use to condition leather utilizing natural waxes and greases, such as beeswax, tallow and lanolin. Nourishing this way yields a leather with a very high oil content making it naturally water repellent and “self polishing.” This practice has become less common in the world as the materials are relatively expensive and it is challenging to control how much grease the leather absorbs. Horween monitor moisture in the leather closely and make adjustments each season to compensate for the weather.

The natural structure of the hide that makes Horween Shell Cordovan is a slightly different shape in every piece. Once Horween have properly tanned and exposed the shell Horween trim away the non-shell areas to leave only the smoothest surface for their customers.


Horween Shell Cordovan Navy


Horween Shell Corvodan


Horween Shell Cordovan Belt


Horween Shell Cordovan Cigar



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