Cordovan leather is sometimes referred to as cordovan shell due to the “shell” membrane of the horse used to construct them. The horses used are not the equestrian thoroughbreds you see on tv, but more like those that are one step away from the glue factory. These shoes are famed for their shine and durability with their strong resistance to the typical wear and tear of footwear like creasing.
Each horsehide only has two shells, so enough for a single pair of shoes, reasoning as to why a man can pay upwards of £1,500 for a pair. Add on top the laborious process to make, then you can start to understand the high ticket for such a pair.
The name cordovan is a reference to Cordoba, Spain where the original tanners for the hide originated. These days though there are very few factories producing these shoes again subsequently pushing the price up. In the UK, Crockett & Jones is the main manufacturer for cordovan and in the US there is Alden in New England, and Allen-Edmonds in Wisconsin.
To tan a cordovan can take six months in some cases so be aware that if you are going to invest in a beautiful pair of made to measure cordovan leather shoes, then you could be waiting some time.
Sam Brady is a menswear expert, having worked in or around the field for the past 14 years. He has built up a keen eye for detail when it comes to the production of clothing, and is happy showcasing the craftsmanship of Savile Row and Jermyn St. But he understands the need for an interchangeable modern man’s wardrobe that mixes high street and luxury clothing.