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what is cordovan?

oneade

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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?
 

shoefan

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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.
 

Cary Grant

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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).
 

jasonsun

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Originally Posted by Cary Grant
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?
 

oneade

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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!
 

Nonk

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Originally Posted by oneade
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.
 

thinman

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Originally Posted by oneade
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.
 

well-kept

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Originally Posted by thinman
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.
 

Tarmac

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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
 

oneade

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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?
 

billiebob

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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.
 

thinman

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Originally Posted by well-kept
The edges of a punched hole in shell will be slightly rounded rather than sharp edged.

Thank you. Well said.
 

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