Yes, you’ve heard that right, Shell Cordovan —the cream of the crop when it comes to luxurious quality shoe leather— is now available at Robert August!
For those of you who have never heard of it, Cordovan is a type of leather that stands out from the crowd. Its glossy finish, refined texture, and durable nature make it the leather of choice for high-end shoe manufacturers.
And it’s not a coincidence that only a handful of the most iconic luxury men’s shoe brands have a (very) limited product range made with shell cordovan —admittedly for connoisseurs only.
Cordovan leather is rare, expensive, and its production process is painfully slow.
Where does it come from? The name «Cordovan», derives from the Spanish city of Cordoba, and means “from Cordoba”. A region, known for its famous Andalusian horse breeding tradition, dating back as far as the 7th century.
Unlike conventional cowhide leather, Cordovan is an equine leather. It’s made from horsehide or, more specifically, the fibrous shell that sits beneath the surface hide of a horse’s hindquarters.
The process to produce Cordovan is painstaking; a single shell is tanned, shaved, smoothed, and dyed by hand, and then treated with vegetable oils over the course of several weeks and carefully polished before it leaves the tannery – an intensive and expensive process taking six months or more.
In contrast to calf leather, Shell Cordovan is completely smooth, without a grain. This gives Cordovan shoes their high-shine and luxurious finish, which suits rich dark browns or cognac colors, or the classic burgundy.
It also behaves a little differently than calf leather. It’s stiffer, and while it does become incredibly supple and mold to the wearer’s feet over time, it does take longer to break-in. We expect a pair of our Cordovan shoes – well cared for and resoled when required – to last for decades.
Shell Cordovan is available in 4 colors: Dark brown, Cognac, Navy, and Burgundy —also known as Color #8— the most common color of shell cordovan available. It’s a deep brown with hints of reddish burgundy, which will become more visible over time.