Posted by Crown Northampton on

The Horween Company is one of the very best tanneries in the world that produce some of the most unique and characterful leathers available - For those that know, I think we can all agree with the above statement. For those that don't know, trust us - Their products really are that good. Based in their hometown of Chicago, USA, Horween doesn't have many direct rivals due to the research, history, family heritage, and expertise they've amassed since they were first formed over a century ago in 1905 by first-generation Master Tanner - Isidore Horween. The closest set-up you'll find on our side of the world is the mighty CF Stead based in Leeds, UK since 1890 - Known for their luxuriously soft and durable suedes that we also carry at Crown Northampton. Aside from the obvious heritage that both of these leather tanning giants share there are also other deeper connections that we'll come on to towards the end of this piece. 

Now in their fifth generation of the Horween family name and under the guidance of Nick Horween, not much has actually changed within the company with regards to secret family recipes still used throughout the tanning process and the brand values they still work to. And that's the thing, when you're the best at what you do and you're the originator within your field, you don't actually need to change much of what you do because it already works and you're already the best. You don't look to competitors to see what they're doing, you just carry on doing what you do and have been doing for the past 100 years! Think Coca-Cola for the perfect example of this theory.  

As a fifth-generation-owned company ourselves that's still under the guidance of the Woodford family name since Earnest Woodford formed the company in 1908 (currently Chris Woodford). There are some strong comparables we share with the Horween Company such as keeping it in the family, continuity of production in the respective local area, doing things our own way in line with tried and tested traditions, and looking to lead rather than follow. 

These are just some of the reasons why we as a company Crown Northampton, have made such a strong commitment to the Horween Company and the leathers they tan and produce. 

Here's a round-up of what Horween Collections we carry, what colours are available, and what Crown Northampton footwear collections you can find them in.



Throughout our collections, we use Horween's star performer Shell Cordovan which is viewed by most footwear aficionados as the highest-quality leather in the world. We only use Shell Cordovan exclusively in our top-tier Hand Stitch Collection due to this and the difficulties there can be when sourcing signature oval-shaped shells that are expertly tanned, stuffed, shaved, and polished by hand. Cordovan's hi-gloss sheen and shine always make it instantly recognisable to those in the know and the colour changes that this brings about in differing lights are a Horween Company trademark. Known to ripple and not crease due to its tight fibres and genetic membrane makeup, there is literally no other material that it can be compared to, and if cared for correctly, it can last a lifetime.

Available In:

Colours - No 8, Bourbon, Black, Dark Cognac

Collections - Hand Stitch




Horween buffalo leather is tanned in the US in a similar way to Chromexcel with a combination of both vegetable and chrome tanning. Only recently introduced to our range, Crown Northampton exclusively carry this shrunken-down buffalo leather in the UK and Europe. Sourced directly from Horween through our trusted local leather merchants AA Crack, Buffalo has become one of our best sellers since launch and carries an extremely characterful and individual natural grain straight out of the tanning drum which sets it aside from many other types of processed grain leathers, due to each skin being completely unique with a non-uniform finish across its surface - The Horween Buffalo leather that we use embraces individuality. This is also mainly used in our Hand Stitch Collection on the Harlestone Derby and newly launched Everdon Mid Boot, with a recent introduction in a small selection to our Overstone from the Classic Sneaker Collection.

Available In:

Colours - Tan, Brown, Black, No 8, Grey, Green

Collections - Hand Stitch, Classic Sneaker



crown Northampton Horween chromexcel

Two of the remaining Horween leathers stocked across our collections are often grouped together due to some of the shared similarities and the character they show as they wear in. Chromexcel is arguably the most famous and recognisable leather that Horween produces which uses age-old tanning processes combined with secret blends of natural oils and greases that have been passed down through the generations. Known as the original 'pull up' leather due to the changes when the surface is rubbed or your finger is pulled along the underside of the leather. Chromexcel has an oily handle that will naturally darken with wear whilst creating a unique custom patina that just keeps getting better and better. Quite firm on first wear, Chromexcel breaks in gradually, then softens and moulds to the wearer's foot to create the perfect fit. It also tries to self-heal when marked. Clever stuff.

Available In:

Colours - Black, Natural, No 8, Brown, Forest Green

Collections - Classic Sneaker, Hand Stitch, Stitchdown



crown Northampton Horween cavalier

Almost identical to Chromexcel with many of the same characteristics.  Cavalier leather is listed in our catagories section as Chromexcel due to most not being able to tell them apart and to avoid confusion across our collections. However, Cavalier leather does have some of its own unique features that set it aside from the aforementioned Chromexcel. Tanned in a slightly different way that provides a brighter more vibrant finish, this becomes more apparent as the patina develops and takes on its own striking appearance - Especially with the Ink colour that displays several different hues of light and deep blue that can sometimes verge on hints of purple in different lights. Aside from colour vibrancy, Cavalier has a slightly less oily surface finish and handle to Chromexcel but if we're being really honest, most would never be able to tell the difference between the two materials from the Horween range. 

Available In:

Colours - Ink, Sunflower

Collections - Classic Sneaker



crown Northampton Horween essex

The final Horween leather that we carry is Essex and this currently sits on its own in Crown Northampton's selection with just one colour. Very light brown and natural in appearance, this rather unassuming material receives the same tanning formulas as Cordovan. It's drum tanned and heavily tumbled throughout the preparation processes making it softer than many other leathers throughout Horween's collection. As a purely vegetable-tanned leather, Essex starts off light in colour but will gradually darken as the leather patinas and over time the change can be quite dramatic depending on wear and use. This process is very appealing to many customers as they effectively get to carry out their wearer trial project that will be personally unique to them. Essex leather is heavily used in footwear production but is also used widely in the production of premium bags and small leather goods. Fun fact, the very UK and Irish sounding names of Essex, Derby, and Dublin came about when some time ago Horween representatives visited the UK and were shown around various cities by representatives from CF Stead and AA Crack Leather Merchants. A distribution relationship was formed and the respective Horween collections were named after places they visited on their overseas trip to the UK - Not the full story but there or thereabouts.

Available In:

Colours - Natural

Collections - Classic Sneaker


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