• I'm happy to introduce the Styleforum Happy Hour, our brand new podcast featuring lively discussion about menswear and the fashion industry. In the inaugural edition, a discussion of what's going on in retail today. Please check it out on the Journal. All episodes will be also be available soon on your favorite podcast platform.

  • STYLE. COMMUNITY. GREAT CLOTHING.

    Bored of counting likes on social networks? At Styleforum, you’ll find rousing discussions that go beyond strings of emojis.

    Click Here to join Styleforum's thousands of style enthusiasts today!

Horsehide vs. Shell Cordovan? ...

cmeisenzahl

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 27, 2006
Messages
474
Reaction score
3
I understand what shell is and the very specific area of the horse it comes from. But once in a while I encounter some vintage print ad describing "horsehide" boots. Are these shell? Or just traditional leather from elsewhere on the horse?

If it's just traditional leather from elsewhere on a horse, does anyone use that any more? How did it hold up compared to cow leather or shell?

Thanks!

Chris
 

bengal-stripe

Distinguished Member
Dubiously Honored
Joined
Mar 23, 2002
Messages
4,539
Reaction score
989
“Horsehide” or “Horse front” is the leather from the forepart of the horse. It’s quite a traditional material for bomber- and biker jackets.

http://www.aeroleatherclothing.com/p...tail.php?id=18

Quite a hard and fibrous leather with inferior drape, it is considered a poor material for footwear
(if I recall correctly, it tends to split where it bends across the vamp).

I suppose, DWF can give more information.
 

JLibourel

Distinguished Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2004
Messages
8,752
Reaction score
464
Not necessarily a "poor material for footwear." Horsehide is an excellent material for rugged work boots and such. It is not well suited to sleek, elegant shoes, however.
 

lee_44106

Distinguished Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2006
Messages
8,106
Reaction score
85
Are the boots made with real welt or does it have gemming? (or is that gumming?)
 

DWFII

Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker
Dubiously Honored
Joined
Jan 8, 2008
Messages
9,420
Reaction score
4,347
Once upon a time horsehide was used in the States a lot more than it is now. I have seen muleskin boots that were sixty years old, worn hard and put up wet, and never a crack. The owner claimed they simply would not scuff.
The old time Buster Browns...for those of you old enough to remember...had horsehide toe patches to prevent scuffs. Horse fronts are used regularly for linings in Europe and the US..especially in the Orthopedic Trade. As Bengal Stripe mentioned, it was used extensively for aviator (Bomber) jackets. That alone would suggest a flexibility that belies any worries about cracking. All the horse fronts I have seen were soft and had a reasonably good "hand" (drape). In fact, in my opinion, one of the reasons horse fronts are not used for footwear is that chrome tannages tend to be too soft and stretchy. The veg tannages I've seen tend to be dense...I like them for welting. I suspect the biggest reason horse and mule (probably indistinguishable for all intents and purposes) fell out of favour is the reverence in which Americans view the horse.
We don't eat horse either despite having been told by greater culinary experts than ourselves how delicious it is.
 

scurvyfreedman

Distinguished Member
Joined
May 5, 2010
Messages
1,424
Reaction score
658
Baseball covers were made from horsehide through the mid-70s. Then they switched to cowhide.
 

BlueHorseShoe

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 8, 2008
Messages
523
Reaction score
11
Originally Posted by DWFII
We don't eat horse either despite having been told by greater culinary experts than ourselves how delicious it is.


We just prefer to turn them into glue and then have toddlers eat them in that form.
 

Pantisocrat

Distinguished Member
Joined
Jan 7, 2010
Messages
1,783
Reaction score
7
shell cordovan vs. patent leather...which came before? I've always thought that glossy leather used for dress shoes was originally made from specific animals before patenting leather was invented.
 

Pantisocrat

Distinguished Member
Joined
Jan 7, 2010
Messages
1,783
Reaction score
7
Originally Posted by scurvyfreedman
Baseball covers were made from horsehide through the mid-70s. Then they switched to cowhide.
It's quite difficult to find a pigskin football these days too. I'm curious what material basket ball and soccer ball used to be made from
 

NHorween

Active Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2009
Messages
40
Reaction score
8
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).
 

DWFII

Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker
Dubiously Honored
Joined
Jan 8, 2008
Messages
9,420
Reaction score
4,347
Originally Posted by NHorween
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! If I might...is Horween offering a retanned horsefront suitable for dress shoes? I, for one, would be interested....
 

NHorween

Active Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2009
Messages
40
Reaction score
8
Originally Posted by DWFII
Thank you!

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


It might depend on the definition of dress, but we have a handful of nice options.
 

Fishball

Distinguished Member
Joined
Jul 9, 2007
Messages
1,840
Reaction score
157
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?
 

Featured Sponsor

How many pairs of shoes do you own?

  • 1 - 4

    Votes: 14 3.7%
  • 5 - 10

    Votes: 67 17.6%
  • 11 - 20

    Votes: 126 33.2%
  • 21 - 30

    Votes: 64 16.8%
  • 31 - 40

    Votes: 26 6.8%
  • 41 - 50

    Votes: 22 5.8%
  • 51 - 60

    Votes: 13 3.4%
  • 61 - 70

    Votes: 7 1.8%
  • 71 - 80

    Votes: 13 3.4%
  • 81 - 90

    Votes: 2 0.5%
  • 91 - 100

    Votes: 3 0.8%
  • 100+

    Votes: 23 6.1%

Related Threads

Forum statistics

Threads
427,436
Messages
9,198,599
Members
193,201
Latest member
Mildiesth

Styleforum is proudly sponsored by

Top