what is cordovan?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by oneade, Oct 16, 2008.

  1. oneade

    oneade Well-Known Member

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    Ok, I know this is a newbie question. I've tried the search and wikipedia but I can't figure how to distinguish between cordovan and other types of leather.

    Why is cordovan so popular?
     


  2. shoefan

    shoefan Senior member

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    Cordovan is horse 'leather'; it is actually a small membrane from the rump of the horse under the skin. From each horse one can actually only get 2 pieces, each perhaps 1 ft by 2 ft (oval). It is very strong leather that takes a high shine, needs very little waxing/polishing, and can last for decades.

    Virtuallty all cordovan comes from Horween tannery in Chicago.
     


  3. Cary Grant

    Cary Grant Senior member

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    And I wouldn't say it's "so popular". It does have its fan, particularly on this forum. It's fairly rare these day, which makes it pricy- and it has it's own issues with care.

    True shell cordovan is certainly admired but it's a niche to be sure (then again, so are all the popular high-end shoes cherished here).
     


  4. denimdestroyedmylife

    denimdestroyedmylife Big Winner

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    I don't think it really shines so much as glows preternaturally.
     


  5. jasonsun

    jasonsun Senior member

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    And I wouldn't say it's "so popular". It does have its fan, particularly on this forum. It's fairly rare these day, which makes it pricy- and it has it's own issues with care.

    True shell cordovan is certainly admired but it's a niche to be sure (then again, so are all the popular high-end shoes cherished here).


    Can you talk a bit more about the care issue?
     


  6. Cary Grant

    Cary Grant Senior member

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    Go to the bottom of this thread/page and check out the similar threads listed there.
     


  7. oneade

    oneade Well-Known Member

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    is it easy to tell the difference between horse and cow leather then? I have not having seen cordovan in person (i've been oblivious to the different leathers). If anyone has closeup pics of cordovan please post!
     


  8. Nonk

    Nonk Senior member

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    Ok, I know this is a newbie question. I've tried the search and wikipedia but I can't figure how to distinguish between cordovan and other types of leather.

    Why is cordovan so popular?



    A question that I have pondered at length.

    I have yet to come up with an answer. so I will view this thread with interest.
     


  9. Zenny

    Zenny Senior member

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    Horse ass
     


  10. thinman

    thinman Senior member

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    is it easy to tell the difference between horse and cow leather then? I have not having seen cordovan in person (i've been oblivious to the different leathers). If anyone has closeup pics of cordovan please post!

    Here's a previous post showing pictures of creases in shell cordovan vs. calfskin. It's the easiest way to distinguish between the two:

    http://www.styleforum.net/showpost.p...45&postcount=1

    Other things to look for include a white "bloom" on shell cordovan that is actually wax/oil used in the tanning process coming to the surface (it can be wiped off easily). The edges around broguing or eyelet holes in shell cordovan will also look more indented. I wish I had a picture of this last feature (or a better way of explaining it), but I don't.
     


  11. well-kept

    well-kept Senior member

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    The edges around broguing or eyelet holes in shell cordovan will also look more indented. I wish I had a picture of this last feature (or a better way of explaining it), but I don't.

    The edges of a punched hole in shell will be slightly rounded rather than sharp edged.
     


  12. Tarmac

    Tarmac Senior member

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    Positives:

    Cordovan is heavier. In general I like heavier leather
    No maintenance other than wiping dirt off.
    Burgundy cordovan looks better than burgundy calf
    Long tradition in leather goods
    Relative rarity. It's like having a special color made up for you, no matter how slight the difference is vs calf.
    It looks buttery, without being greasy to the touch
    You can wear it once a week for 30 years and it will look almost identical. Calf would be long done.


    Negatives:

    Some odd poopy creasing is possible
    Uneven in tones, especially these days. even on the same shoe
    Expensive
    can look plasticky at times
    known to turn spotty in the rain
     


  13. oneade

    oneade Well-Known Member

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    thanks for the posts! i now have a good idea what to look out for.

    i assume the spotting apperance in the rain is temporary?
     


  14. billiebob

    billiebob Senior member

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    The spots may or may not go away. I have cordovan that got wet that's been bumpy for years. I don't worry about it. Just polish every month or so and wear it. The very obvious large scale creasing makes them pretty casual, so the spots don't concern me.
     


  15. thinman

    thinman Senior member

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    The edges of a punched hole in shell will be slightly rounded rather than sharp edged.

    Thank you. Well said.
     


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