A question on cordovan. I always hear that cordovan lasts forever-is this really the case? My dad has some Alden tassel loafers and he said that he replaces them about once every 10 years after 2-3 recraftings because they are quite beat up. I was always under the impression that cordovan is leather's "steel." Does anyone have any pics of their *own* shoes that are ten years or older. And I'm not talking about old stock. Thanks.
If you wear them multiple times a week, they will start looking dreary after some time as the rolls get deeper and deeper. Most of the people who tout that cordovan (and calf) will look great over a lifetime own several pairs of shoes and have a large rotation i.e. wear the shoe once a week at most. If Alden is like C&J, I believe they will not recraft a shoe after two or three times since re-lasting puts too much strain on the leather.
Be that as it may, cordovan seems to be a bit more durable in my opinion. I rarely polished mine and even the deepest scuffs came out with simply buffing.
Cordovan is unquestionably tougher and more wear resistant than calf. The thing that has to be kept in mind is pretty much what jaywhyy just said. The number of recraftings that a Goodyear-welted shoe can take (no matter what it's made of) is limited. Every time the welt is removed and a new one is stitched on, the leather upper at the inseam becomes weaker and weaker. Think of it like tearing a solid piece of paper vs. a piece with a perforated line. The more perforations, the easier it is to tear. When they stitch on a new welt, the needle is just "machine gunning" through the leather, and it is undoubtedly making new holes and widening others. After this has been done a few times, it simply becomes too weak to keep being done.