The cordovan is also known as the King of Leathers. Shell cordovan (or cordovan) is a type of leather commonly used in high-end shoemaking. The leather derives its name from the city of Cordoba, Spain.
It is a difficult and expensive leather to make, and in the late 19th and early 20th century was mostly used for razor strops to sharpen razors in barber shops. More recently it has been increasingly used for shoes, wallets, and watch straps due to its aesthetic qualities and exceptional durability.
One of the reasons for its high expense is due to the fact that the leather is procured from horses. Horse leather farms are extremely rare, and the process of making the leather itself from the hide is complicated, and takes decades of experience and skill to get right.
Shell cordovan has a unique non-creasing characteristic. Because it is made of connective tissue, it is smooth and lacks the pebbled effect of leather derived from animal skin.
Cordovan is a type of leather that really stands out. Its glossy finish, refined texture, and durable nature makes it the leather of choice for high-end shoe manufacturers.
Due to the difficulty in applying dyes, shell cordovan is available in a narrow range of colors.
And it’s not a coincidence that only a handful of the most iconic luxury mens shoe brands have a (very) limited product range made with shell cordovan —admittedly for connoisseurs only.
Cordovan leather is rare, expensive, and its production process is painfully slow.
The process to produce Cordovan is painstaking; a single shell is tanned, shaved, smoothed and dyed by hand, and then treated with vegetable oils over the course of several weeks and carefully polished before it leaves the tannery – an intensive and expensive process taking six months or more.
It also behaves a little differently than calf. It’s stiffer, and while it does become incredibly supple and mould to the wearer’s feet over time, it does takes longer to break in. We expect a pair of our Cordovan shoes – well cared for and resoled when required – to last for decades.
Shell Cordovan is available in 4 colors: Dark brown, Cognac, Navy and Burgundy — the most common color of shell cordovan available. It’s a deep brown with hints of reddish burgundy, which will become more visible over time.
A pair of shoes that are made from Shell Cordovan leather can be expected to easily last an entire lifetime if properly maintained.