Shell Cordovan Care

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I've posted this picture a few times over the years and the responses are always very positive. I found this pair of Aldens in our archives shortly after I started back at the tannery full time - sometime in early 2009.

I'm not entirely sure why they fell out of someone's rotation, but I'm happy they did. I will confess (and so would my father) that we have many more fine pairs of shoes than one deserves. Sometimes boxes make their way back to the factory for short or long term storage - home closets tend to fill up.

Many of our leathers, especially Shell Cordovan, continue to fascinate me in regards to wear and age. Finished products tend to improve with wear, but also forgotten or dead stock bundles exhibit positive change - excess waxes and oils migrate to the surface, colors deepen and redden, and sun fades or darkens. Above all, each piece is different. This is all a function of time, temperature, light, and the individual components we imbue into the specific article.

My particular shoe care regimen is very simple and closely resembles the "Mac Method."

  1. Clean with a soft, damp cloth, allow to dry completely away from heat and moving air.
  2. Brush, vigorously, for several minutes using a horsehair brush.
  3. Every 10 - 15 wearings, apply a light haze of neutral Creme Cordovan or Venetian Cream sparingly. 
  4. Allow to sit at least 10 minutes (my great grandfather insisted on overnight).
  5. Brush again, as long as you can stand it.
  6. Buff with a soft, dry cloth.

In the winter, I will wipe my shoes with a damp cloth at the end of the day to remove any salt, a Chicago-type climate concern.

I often get asked "how do I remove the water spots/welts from my shoes from the rain?" I find that these spots fade if you just continue to wear and complete regular care. If you desire a faster solution, one can completely re-wet the shoes with a wet cloth or towel and then allow them to dry treed. Once dry, brush.