Les Ateliers

Shell Cordovan, what is it?

Shell Cordovan, that mystical and precious material in the leather family. What is it really though? And why is it different from for example calfskin leather? Did you know that your grandfather highly likely had a razor strop made of shell cordovan for his straight razor back in the day?

Look no further for information, here-under in a nutshell all you really need to know..

Very often Shell Cordovan is described as leather made from equine hides. Nay sir, that’s incorrect. It is in fact made from a muscle just beneath the hide, located at the rump. That’s what makes it so very different to begin with, it is an entirely different base material.


Some quick facts about Shell Cordovan:

  • Shell Cordovan has its origin in Spain, Cordoba, where it was first produced more than 10 centuries ago;
  • It is made in very few places around the globe, most famous at the moment seems to be Horween tannery, but there are other excellent tanneries as well, simply not as big on their brand name;
  • Shells are relatively small, and raw material is in perpetual short supply. They are a bi-product of the food industry. As supply is limited, price is relatively high compared to ‘normal’ leather;
  • Margin of error for ruining a shell is high compared to hides. Reason is that a particular shave is required to get the base material just right and ready for its transformation in arguably one of the most luxurious leathers one can get;
  • Shell cordovan has a tendency to avoid wrinkles (that we associate with leather), rather it’ll fold. This is a nice quality to have, especially if you’re talking about a pair of shoes, for example;
  • Oh and it takes about 6 months to go from base material to finished shell.

What we like about it for watch straps? It has a unique texture, is very durable, has a completely different feel than calfskin straps. A very nice strap to add to the mix if you want to change it up once in a while. Feel free to visit our shop and pick one out.

Colour #8 – arguably the most famous shade of Horween shell Cordovan


Leave a Reply (No Login Required)