Shell Cordovan

Our Shell Cordovan is sourced from Shinki Hikaku in Himeji Japan and Leder Ogawa.

Shell cordovan is one of the most prestigious leathers on the market, typically reserved for dress shoes and high end luxury goods. It is not actually like normal leather; it is technically a membranous layer underneath the actual epidermis layer called the top grain and above the split. For more information on what these different layers of leather are, refer to our page on Leather Phrases Explained. This membrane is unique to equine (horse) species and it is the dense inelastic properties of the fibers which gives it its appeal in shoes, as it does not crease like normal leather.

However these "shells" are only found in pairs on the rump of the animal and are typically not very big when compared to the entire hide from the animal. Thus the price for shell cordovan is very high. The leather is sourced from animals which have been slaughtered first for meat and as such the hide and shells are a byproduct and not the main product, even considering the price the leather goes for. Mostly the price is due to the tannage or how the leather is made from the raw hide which dictates the price. It can take over 6 months to produce.

Rather than having the typical grain appearance of usual leather, shell cordovan is very smooth. The tanning method usually aims to accentuate this smoothness to the point where is glistens like a mirror. Well made shell cordovan hides will present a three dimensional effect and depth of colours which can lead the leather to often defy being described as only one colour. Usually there is a hue of shades seen in different lighting.