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Horsehide vs. Shell Cordovan? ... - Page 2

post #16 of 22
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post
Thank you!

If I Horween offering a retanned horsefront suitable for dress shoes? I, for one, would be interested....

BTW, I am interested too.
post #17 of 22
how about the difference between horsehide and calf?
post #18 of 22
Originally Posted by NHorween View Post
One of the major limitations in using horsehide for shoe uppers is weight. Horse fronts (FQHH) are naturally around 2 - 3.5 oz (0.8 - 1.4mm), with the heavier end being less common. That said, there are a handful of companies using horse front for footwear, and Thorogood makes a boot using "strips," which is the are between the front and the shell. Fratelli Rosetti made some horsefront shoes some time back - they were quite dressy. Softness/stretchiness of most areas of horsehide is just as much a function of the whole process as the base tannage. As a general statement, chrome tannages do yield softer leathers, but retanning and drying methods can yield round, veg-like leathers. Horsehide does have a different grain appearance, tends to be more abrasion resistant than cowhide, and has a lot more "natural character" (meaning horses live longer than cows so their hides tend to show us that).
Thank you, Mr. Horween, for participating in SF. Love your blog -- you're an interesting writer!
post #19 of 22
Originally Posted by Fishball View Post
Hi Nick, I just bought few pcs of Color 8 shell cordovan. One of them have a 1.5 inch long, almost 1 mm deep scar on it. Did your company grade the shell? Should the retailer sell that like grade I leather?
And, you, well you're a class act, too.
post #20 of 22
I have a German textbook (1948) in front of me: I suppose in those days, right after the war, they had to turn every beast into leather, they even list dog leather. There are three types of Horsefront listed: Chrome Horse Leather, Horse Sport and Horse Chevreau, In all three cases they call the grain ‘semolina like’ (grieslig), the texture lose and the leather only suitable for "cheap footwear, trainers and slippers".

There certainly still is (not only has been) a strong dislike of horse leather in Europe.

Tony Gaziano of GazianoGirling:

Cordovan! It’s big in the USA but used for all the wrong reasons. It has a treatment on top of it which in my mind makes it look like rubber, and it cannot breathe that well either. Cordovan is 3 to 4 mm thick which causes countless headaches to shoemakers. Cordovan also looks too rustic for everyday shoes. But customers keep ordering it in oxfords and full brogues. If it is suitable for anything, it would be a chukka boot or plain derby with a rubber sole, and that’s it.

It is only in the last years, that shoemakers (bespoke and industrial) have been forced (kicking and screaming, I presume) by customer demand to work with shell cordovan. Prior to that, they would refuse to touch it, primarily claiming it was unstable and tended to split during lasting and with wear. (I remember Mr Wildsmith telling me, maybe 12 years ago: “Shell is rubbish, it splits!”).

Originally Posted by DWFII View Post
Horse fronts are used regularly for linings in Europe and the US..especially in the Orthopedic Trade.

John Lobb is using ‘horse’ as front lining (the back is usually self lined). Although that might have been historically leather from a horse, it is no longer. ‘Horse’ as lining material is a bovine bottom split with an artificially created grain. The handle is rather like chamois (window cleaning) leather, extremely soft and the colour is almost white. (Normally the bottom split is an absolute no-no for quality leather.)
post #21 of 22
Shell splits if lasted too tightly (openly acknowledged). Otherwise, it has many remarkable qualities and is nearly indestructible in a shoe. I get the feeling you're not understanding horsefront versus shell. What is your point?
post #22 of 22
@Fishball - We grade the shells based on cuttable area. If the imperfection is a slit only then we may have left it in place depending on where it was located. You can always exchange/return uncut leather, though this doesn't sound too problematic to me. @cimabue - thanks! @bengal-stripe - Mr. Gaziano makes beautiful shoes, no question about that. But, I will say that I'm confused by most points from that quote. Our shell cordovan tops out at about 2.4mm, and does breathe well. There is also no treatment on the surface of the shell - just aniline stain/dye. I wonder if he tried shell from a different tannery? To me, it isn't rustic either, but I am most assuredly biased. Shell is tricky to work with - it doesn't take to hard lasting or high heat.
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