Shell cordovan is the name for a particular type of leather derived from the hindquarters of horsehide. It’s one of the few types of leather that consumers might know by name.
The “shell” refers to the hindquarter part of the hide once it has been split horizontally to remove the grain. The name “cordovan” derives from the Spanish city of Córdoba and means “from Córdoba”; together, the terms refer to this specific type of horse leather.
Unlike other leather, the shell is a membrane in the middle of two epidermis layers in the rear portion of a horse butt. The hindquarter portion of the hide used for shell cordovan begins at about 24″ from the tail and extends 24-28″ on either side of the horse. The exact size depends on the particular horse.
Shell cordovan is exceptionally durable. The pores are so dense on the hindquarters of a horse that they are not visible to the naked eye. The hide is naturally resistant to water (though not impervious) as well as stretching. Instead of creasing, shell cordovan ripples.
Since creasing can lead to cracks in the leather, the tendency to ripple rather than crease helps to preserve the surface of the leather and the overall lifespan of the shoe. Furthermore, shell cordovan ages very well and develops a particularly beautiful patina over time. A well-cared-for pair of shoes can truly last you a lifetime.
The leather itself doesn’t accept dye very well, so it’s mostly found in dark shades of brown, black, and what is known as “cordovan” color, which is a dark burgundy rose color. It takes skilled craftsmen six months to tan a piece of cordovan and takes approximately one and a half shells to make a pair of shoes.
In addition to being resistant and delicate, cordovan leather is easy to maintain, because extra oil is incorporated during leather tanning.
The Shell Cordovan used by Chamaripa is both unique and exclusive. A traditional and lengthy process of specialist vegetable tanning, hand dyeing, and finishing produces the distinctive strong fiber structure and rich shiny texture of Cordovan leather.
Begin by inserting your shoe tree.Wipe any excess dirt or dust off of your cordovan shoe with a damp cloth or chamois.Remove shoe laces if you don't want to get any cream on them and for easier access to the tongue.
Using a soft cloth or spatula brush apply an even coat of cream all over your shoes. We recommend using cream close in color to your shoes. If you cannot match them we recommend neutral or one shade darker.
Work the cream into the leather in a circular motion.
Brush your shoes vigorously with a horse hair brush. It is impossible to lover brush shell. The more you brush the shinier it will get (to a point).
Back and forth, continue to brush your shoes until they have a beautiful high shine.
When it comes to storage, you can store your shoes as you would calfskin footwear. In bags with your wooden trees inserted. No special considerations have to be made.
Also on newer shell footwear the fat from the leather can make its way to the surface. This usually leaves a thin white chalky residue on your shoes. Most noticeable after storing them for a while. This is normal. It is called "bloom" and can be removed simply by brushing. No special cleaning required.