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Any recomendation on Cordovan or Calf-Skin Burgandy

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
I have never worn true horse skin cordovan. Mainly, Calf-Skin. What is the main difference? which do you perfer and why? Thank you so much for your advice.
post #2 of 8
With the cordovan calf that you have worn, the "cordovan" has simply refered to the color. People use the word cordovan as a synonym for burgundy, hence the confusion.

Cordovan, as in shell cordovan, is completely different than cordovan the color. It is of course the material, not a color. It has a very different feel from calf. It doesn't crease at all, but rather develops these ripples. It is very sturdy and with proper care will last literally a lifetime. It has a waxy feel to it, and feels thicker than calf too.
post #3 of 8
That's an easy one- all my Aldens are in "burgundy" horsehide. "Cordovan" the material is somewhat less elastic than calfskin and doesn't take a "set" as easily.
I've found them to be longer wearing than calf and "cordovan" the color is more versatile than black
post #4 of 8
I love shell cordovan shoes and own two pairs of Alden leisure handsewns, one in color 8 (burgundy) and one in black (which I'm wearing today), as well as a pair of brown polo Darlton wingtips made by C&J. They have developed very broad creases and the creases are lighter than the surrounding leather, both features distinctive of shell cordovan. The coloration of all three shoes is subtly different than that of calfskin shoes. It's hard to describe, but the shine just has more depth to it.

Shell cordovan shoes take minimal care (I wipe them down and polish only the scuffs) and the material is *very* tough. Not long after buying my color 8 loafers, I ran over my foot with my desk chair while sitting in the chair (ouch!). I was more concerned with the possible damage to the shoes than the pain in my foot, but I had only an indentation across the vamp, which has actually disappeared over time.

I wear my shell cordovan shoes at every opportunity, so I found myself wearing the wingtips every other day last winter and I wear each pair of loafers at least once a week, and usually much more often, in the summer. The cordovan color is more versatile than either black or brown and might clue some people that your shoes are actually shell cordovan, if you care about such things. I actually like my brown shell cordovan shoes best because brown shell cordovan is harder to find than either black or cordovan colors and I *really* like the variation of brown shades across the shoes.

As to your question whether I prefer calfskin or shell cordovan shoes, my answer is "yes". I prefer calfskin or shell cordovan shoes on different days, depending on my mood. I love shell cordovan, but don't ask me to give up my calfskin shoes, either!
post #5 of 8
post #6 of 8
Nice Shoes! (esp. the brogue) Where are they available in the US?
post #7 of 8
Just to clarify matters, horsehide and shell cordovan are two distinct materials. Actual horsehide tans into a very stiff, thick, rigid leather. It's great for holsters and heavy work boots, but is much too thick and stiff for dress shoes.

Shell cordovan is a subcutaneous membrane between the actual skin (hide) of the rump and the flesh proper. Only two fairly small pieces of shell (oblongs--typically 14 to 18 inches in length) come from one average-size horse.

I don't own any shell cordovan shoes for various reasons, but if I were limited to but a single pair of shoes (a gross and horrible prospect) I would certainly choose shell cordovan because of their durability. My father-in-law has a couple of pairs of Brooks-Alden shell cordovan shoes that have been giving good service for 40-odd years!
post #8 of 8
You are correct, although I've heard both the terms used since the other parts of the horse's hide aren't generally used for shoes.
That being said, although I tend to be hard on shoes, my oldest Alden shells are pushing 10 years and still looking fairly good. I would certainly rank shell superior to calfskin as a rule.
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