To be 'the best in the world' in your specific field is most definitely something to shout about. The problem is, many brands, companies or people that make this bold claim are often unable to back it up. It then just boils down to overhype, overconfidence or possibly just having a big mouth. However, to bring it back to the opening sentence; if you are genuinely the best in the world at what you do then this is something to be truly proud of. However what normally happens when you are the best is that you don't need to tell everyone as your product, skill, ability or whatever it may be that you're good at, is clear to see and you'll find your products and services are in high demand.
Some of you reading this will have good a knowledge of quality footwear, the individual stages of how it's produced and the materials used. For those of you that are less informed and not familiar with the subtle differences in leather when it comes to grades, quality, tanning and origins; let me introduce to you - The Horween Leather Company.
Horween are one of those companies considered to be the best in world at what they do; in this case at producing some of the highest quality leather on the planet - especially when it comes to boot and shoe manufacturing. Horween leather carries almost legendary status within the high end footwear market. The fact that premium footwear brands (many of whom have an abundance of heritage and can also be considered the best in their field) choose to work with Horween skins only helps solidify the Horween reputation and legacy.
So what makes it so special? Well, the company itself was first started in back in 1905 in Chicago, USA where it still resides today as one of the oldest tanneries still in operation. Founded by Isidore Horween, over 100 years later the business remains in the Horween family name and is now under the fifth generation guidance of Nick Horween. It's also worth noting at this point that this continuous family path closely mirrors that of Crown Northampton. Our company was formed in 1908 by Earnest Woodford and remains under fifth generation Woodford family ownership through current Crown Northampton Managing Director - Chris Woodford.
In itself, to keep a company running for over 100 years is remarkable - as a family unit, probably even more so. This wealth of knowledge has been locked in to each and every piece of leather that the Horween Leather Company produces. Closely guarded family secrets and recipes are embedded through patient, complex processes during the preparation of their hides. This type of experience cannot be bought, only gained or earned, and it's clear to see in their luxurious finishes. The premium handle is unique to Horween and delivers superior quality that is obvious from the moment you work with it.
At Crown we have released a Special Edition Horween Collection working with their world renown Chromexcel leather range. Referred to as 'the original pull up leather', Chromexcel is bark tanned then treated with a secret blend of natural oils and greases before being hand rubbed to finish. These carefully administered stages of production are carried out using tried and tested methods of craftsmanship yet in a progressive manner. The overall result is an extremely rich finish that is specific to the Horween Leather Company; with characteristics that change when the leather is pulled and stretched and only gets better throughout the wearing and ageing process. Also looks aside, all finished footwear is extremely durable, supremely comfortable and smells heavenly.
All of the above reasons make Horween products the perfect material to work with and the go to tannery for high end boot and shoemakers around world. For our Special Edition Collection we decided to use Natural, Brown and their signature No.8 colour Chromexcel skins. We chose to work on the Overstone Derby Sneaker, as Horween is not generally used when producing sneakers, and our Grove and Woodford Crepe Sole styles, a more classic combination. Using Horween Chromexcel can be seen as luxury but as the old saying goes 'You get what you pay for' and as you'll see below, they have turned our magnificently. For reference, the images do not do our Special Edition collection full justice with them needing to be seen in person to fully appreciate or better still, worn.
In conclusion, would Horween say they're one of the best leather producers in the world? Possibly not, but sometimes when you actually are, you don't need to say anything.
The Crown Northampton, Horween Leather Company Special Edition Collection is available to order now. Optional resoling service also in place for both the Sneaker and Crepe Sole ranges should it be required in the future. All product is fully made in England from start to finish using first grade materials from arguable the best US tannery still in operation today.
View full collection here.