Visited Horween Leather Co. Part3 (2019)

Last visit at Horween was in 2017 and I finally got a chance again.  Since this time, we were a large group (17 people!), we were splitted into 2 groups; one led by Nick and the other led by Skip.

Well, I actually thought I have learned enough about the process of making Shell Cordovan.  This is already the third visit for me and I simply thought like "I knew somewhat".  I thought that way, however, I was totally wrong.  I still found something new in the factory and I was still excited to see how Shell Cordovan was being made just in from of me!  Now, I understand why some people like to visit Horween many times… 😅

The first section is the stock area of the raw hide.   They are imported from European countries, such as France etc. where people eat horse.   In the same way, raw hide is imported from French speaking region of Canada since they also eat horse there.

After removing hairs on the hide, it will go through pickling process to make them softer so that they can absorb solution more smoothly in the tanning process.

Next process is tanning.   They were dipped into the bath filled with the liquid solution made by tree bark etc. This process takes 60days.

After the tanning process, it will be cut by the brink of cordovan area.  Non Cordovan area will be cut off and long strip of the non-Cordovan area will be used for the belt etc.

Next is secondary tanning process and oil will be also added into the leather this time.   This process will take 90days.  After completing this process, the surface will be shaved off so that Cordovan layer will appear.  If touched by fingers, we can feel very smooth surface in the Cordovan area.

After this process, leather will be dyed and polished by using machine.

During the plant tour, we have seen several rare Shell Cordovan such as Ravello and Natural.   I started feeling again I wanna increase more my rare Shell collection. 😅

After the factory visit, we visited Ashland Leather which is located on the same street, nearby Horween factory.  Ashland Leather was founded by the one of the Horween empolyees and it’s run by his brother Matt.  They were waiting for us by preparing many Cordovan key holders as souvenirs for us.  Thanks, Matt!

And then, we have stopped by Leffot in downtown.  Leffot is located in the famous building in Chicago, called Monadnock Building which was built in the late 1800’s.  Inside the shop, their selected shoes and goods are displayed in very fashionable manner where I can feel high level sense of the shop manager, Sean.

Sean has been waiting for our arrival with his friend in order to help us shopping.  It was just less than 1hour shopping but we really enjoyed shopping Alden shoes and Kreis Bourbon belt myself. 😄

This time was also very short trip but I had a lot of fun experience.  I will come back again to the US, probably next year and hope to visit Chicago as well!

Alden of Tuck


  • 1000 / 1000