Cordovan v. calfskin

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by slaavwmr, Jan 10, 2005.

  1. slaavwmr

    slaavwmr Senior member

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    Hi. I was wondering what you guys think about buying cordovan as opposed to calfskin. I am wondering since I was in an Alden store and I was wondering if it was worth buying 2 conrdovans when I can get 3 calfskins for the same price. Am I really getting that much for the extra cash.
     


  2. johnapril

    johnapril Senior member

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    I bought a pair of Alden's 974 (cordovan bal wingtip) two months ago because I needed something to go with two of my suits. Cordovan is great material, hard as nails compared with my calfskin shoes, which are mostly Ferragamo and best left for dry, sunny days. I wish Alden did their shoes with a more interesting last. The 974 has a damned boring shape, but it works with my suits well enough, the price was right, and once I knew I wanted cordovan, I didn't see any other reasonable, readily available options. If I had the cash to spend on two pairs of cordovans, I might use it as a down payment on one pair of something that I really liked, or have something made for my foot. Recently I received the C&J catalog; they make cordovan shoes. It looked like their last was a bit more interesting, though the shoes cost a bit more than Alden.

    Good luck.
     


  3. bry2000

    bry2000 Senior member

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    The C&J shell cordovan shoes are a little more interesting than those of Alden, but are not worth the incremental cost (in my mind). There are a few shell Aldens that are attractive. The Alden shell monk straps in color 8 are gorgeous. Those are followed closely by the dress loafers and then the split toe bluchers. The cap toes, the plain toes, and the full brogues are a little too clunky for me.
     


  4. johnnynorman3

    johnnynorman3 Senior member

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    I have one pair of cordovan shoes, and I love them. I think if you have mentally committed yourself to buying 3 pairs of calf or 2 pairs of cordovan, you should go with the latter -- though I don't know why you can't choose one of each and buy a nice pair of trousers or something like that with the extra cash. Cordovan has a quality -- a shininess, an elegance, and a durability that even the best calf can't match. But I wouldn't want all my shoes to be in cordovan. But I'm glad I have at least one pair. If you buy two pair, buy one in the cigar color and one in the dark burgundy color, is my recommendation. You won't be sorry for spending the extra on the Alden cordovan -- I talked to a proprietor the other day who said that Alden cordovans outsell the Alden calf in his store by 10 to 1. And he said that Alden makes him place a calf order if he wants to order cordovan.
     


  5. slaavwmr

    slaavwmr Senior member

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    I am talking about some basic designed shoes. Plain toe and cap toe. If you had a choic between buying the same shoes in calfskin versus the cordovan is the extra money spent on the cordovan worthwile. The cordovan adds an etra $125-$175 a shoe.

    I would prefer to avoid the british shoes since recrafting is more of an issue with them. Plus for the shoes I buy the styling is not so much better that I can be patriotic and help support a company that does business in the USA. Also, the CJ calfskin in the cost of Alden Cordovan.
     


  6. bry2000

    bry2000 Senior member

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    If you are planning to get black only, go with the calf and save the money. If you want one black and one burgundy, do calf and cordovan, respectively. Don't get me wrong, the black shell cord is really nice. But the color 8 burgundy is somthing special.
     


  7. Phil

    Phil Senior member

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    It really comes down to personal preference. Cordovan shoes look different than calfskin. They are thicker, more shiny, and crease in an entirely different fashion than calfskin. Cordovan shoes are also much more durable.
     


  8. johnnynorman3

    johnnynorman3 Senior member

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    I'll agree that the Color 8 is incredible -- if you've ever seen burgundy calf, I'll say that the Color 8 cordovan looks nothing like that. I actually showed the Alden shoes that I'm auctioning right now to a couple of my wife's friends the other night, and they both responded with "Wow." Granted, they have no idea that there is such a thing as Lattanzi out there, but these were not fashion dolts by any means. I also think that Alden makes some great, albeit traditional, lasts. I had never seen the Aberdeen last before I picked up the shoes I'm auctioning off, and it strikes me as much more refined than, say, the majority of the Aldens carried at Brooks Brothers, which I think run mainly on the Barrie last.
     


  9. STYLESTUDENT

    STYLESTUDENT Senior member

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    I'm an Alden fan and supporter and have a good many of their loafers. Until recently, I never understood the allure of cordovan as opposed to calf (I always bought calf or suede). I recently acquired a pair of the burgundy shell cordovan penny loafers and agree the leather is something special. I wouldn't bother with the cordovan if it were a black shoe. Although the new cigar brown color is interesting, I'd stick with the classic (i.e. easily recognizable) number 8 shade for my first purchase. I second Johnny Norman's nomination of the Aberdeen last as more elegant (it's what Alden uses for its tassel loafers)-the shape seems more elongated. My own preferences for this shoe would be either the tassel or penny loafer and maybe the steel-eyeleted Brooks version of the blucher. Alden lasts vary widely and a try-on for each style shoe you're considering will be necessary.
     


  10. jcusey

    jcusey Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I'm not a big fan of shell cordovan. I know that this puts me in the minority around here, but there it is. I have shell cordovan shoes, and I will buy them again; but the thickness of the hide, the natural waxiness, the creasing patterns, and the fact that there are no pores all are characteristics of shell cordovan that I don't particularly like. And I've never been able to understand the attraction to Color 8. The other shell cordovan colors (mahogany, whiskey, cigar, etc.) all strike me as more attractive.

    But to each his own.
     


  11. FIHTies

    FIHTies Senior member

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    Jeeez...cant you wait ten friggin minutes before you post about shoes? Or was this thought burning a whole in your mind for the past 3 days... [​IMG] (I think that the judges will agree that I am ahead here) [​IMG]
     


  12. jcusey

    jcusey Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Oh, whatever. You're just jealous because you don't have a pair of navy blue shell cordovan shoes on order. [​IMG]
     


  13. MCA

    MCA Well-Known Member

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    Some shoe experts I know, like Tony Gaziano and Maciej Kielman, prefer good calfskin over cordovan from an aesthetic standpoint (and not simply because calfskin is more forgiving to work with). I'm no expert, but I feel the same way.
     


  14. JDMcDaniel

    JDMcDaniel Well-Known Member

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    Can someone describe the distinct creasing pattern of cordovan? For some reason, I don't recall seeing any with much wear.
     


  15. montecristo#4

    montecristo#4 Senior member

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    I completely agree. I own a pair of cap toe cordovan (#8) bluchers on Alden's Aberdeen last. Nice shoes, but they are heavy and clunky compared to calfskin. Here in DC, you can only wear them half the year at most because they are a lot warmer than calfskin. And you obviously can't antique them the way you can antique calfskin.

    For $450, you're close to what Ben Silver is charging for a C&J handgrade, which in my opinion is a VASTLY superior shoe.
     


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