Crockett & Jones

Shoe Care - Genuine Shell Cordovan

How should you care for your Shell Cordovan shoes?

Shoe Care - Genuine Shell Cordovan

Crockett & Jones has seen an increase in the popularity of all Genuine Shell Cordovan styles, to the point that many of our cordovan loving customers regularly ask us to develop new styles using the material. Unfortunately as with all specialist leathers, the supply of cordovan is restricted due to the lengthy tanning process involved in the production of the material and the availability of the raw material itself.

Cordovan is not a material that suits all, but for those that enjoy its benefits, it is a must have. Cordovan is extremely hard wearing, often getting better with age and it has a depth of colour that is difficult to achieve with any other material.

Genuine Shell Cordovan is vegetable tanned, using a very traditional and labour intensive process that can be seen on the Horween website. This process leaves the material with a very high ‘liquor’ content (although the liquors content is secretive!) that slightly differs the way you should care for cordovan over a pair produced from a calf skin.

We still recommend to use a wax based shoe polish or a special cordovan cream formulated for this type of material. However, as previously mentioned, this material already has a high content of liquor impregnated into it during the tanning process, so it is important not to use too much polish when caring for your cordovan shoes. This will only leave you with an excessive build-up of wax that will scratch easily, attract dirt and leave unsightly creases in the shoes.

You may find that you do not need to add any wax polish to your shoes every time you clean/polish them. By brushing them to remove dirt and polishing them with a cotton cloth; you may achieve your required result. If you feel a small amount of polish is required, do so with a cloth or brush, but do so sparingly.

8 steps to follow:

1. To start, you must brush your shoes to remove dirt and dust. (You should have a brush specifically for this job, do not use your horsehair polishing brush)

2. If brushing your shoes does not remove all of the dirt, you can use a damp cloth (do not use any soap or solvent based fluid) to clean away the areas. Make sure you leave the shoes to dry naturally; you must not dry your shoes on a radiator or heater.

3. Once dry, spread a small amount of polish evenly over the shoes with a cotton cloth or brush and leave to dry for a moment. Usually the time it takes to cover the other shoe is an adequate time period. This process can be repeated twice depending on the condition of the shoes.

4. After the polish has had the chance to settle into the shell, brush the shoes all over with a shoe brush, preferably horsehair (due to its softness).

5. Brushing should have removed most of the polish and evened up the colouration of the shoes once again.

6. Buff the shoes with a cotton cloth for a final shine. (Do not buff the shoes too hard as this produces friction heat and can mark the shoes)

7. An additional step, is the use of a deer bone to remove any damages, dimples or scratches that may have occurred during wear. Applying gentle, circular pressure with a deer bone can encourage the natural oils to surface and help to flatten out the upper layer of the Cordovan. This is also a proven method of bringing a shine back to your Cordovan shoes after wear. (Deer bones are not yet available from Crockett & Jones).

8. Finally, to ensure the longevity of your shoes, it is important to use shoe trees after wear and regularly rotate the usage with another pair.

A common question we receive about our shell cordovan styles is the appearance of a white substance appearing on the material after wear. This is some of the liquors coming out of the material during flexing and wear. The substance can easily be cleaned off with a cloth or damp cloth (water only).

Click here to read our interview with Skip Horween, President of Horween Leather Company.

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