Posted by Crown Northampton on

2023 was a big year for Crown Northampton. We released a new style - the Everdon Mid Boot, we introduced several new leathers and suedes to our collections and we took our first trip across the pond. A few members of our team flew to New York to attend Stitchdown’s first ever boot (and shoe) focused industry event: Boot Camp. We had a great time putting the faces to the names of some of our regular customers and taking in the sights of the Big Apple. We enjoyed it so much we’ll be going back again this October!

Before heading home, Chris, our business owner and some of our team, took a little detour by way of Chicago to visit the iconic and world-renowned Horween Leather Company tannery. We’ve been working with Horween’s leathers for a long time now but to see how the tannery operates in person was an opportunity that couldn’t be passed up.

The Horween Leather Company was founded in 1905, it’s one of the world’s most highly respected tanneries and is now in its fifth generation of Horween owners. The tannery itself sits on the North Branch Chicago River, with the factory spread over five floors. Horween is best known for their Chromexcel and Shell Cordovan leather offerings, both of which we’ve been using in our Classic and Hand Stitch collections for years.

John Culliton was kind enough to give us an in-depth tour around the factory, taking us through every stage of production and showing us what makes the place so special. It was a difficult experience to describe but luckily for us our photographer Alex Natt was on hand with his camera to shoot some pictures of our visit - a picture is worth a thousand words they say, here's part one of the series below.


Examining some Horween leatherChris, the head honcho here at Crown, and John from Horween. Visiting Horween gave us the opportunity to get hands on and check out some leather, up close and personal.


Horween displaysHorween Tannery dates back to 1905 and there is no shortage of display pieces.


Skip HorweenSkip Horween, the tannery's current owner


Tanning pits at Horween Leather Co.Tanning Pits


Rolls of Horween leatherRolls of various Horween leathers, some weird and wonderful bits in there. Watch out for our Dearborne range, coming soon!


Leather production process steps



shell cordovan skins being finished



tanning drum spinningOne of the tanning drums at work




Shell Cordovan

Skip and Nick were very kind hosts, with Skip even allowing Chris and the gang time for an interview (which will be available through our soon to be relaunched sister company E.Woodford & Sons). A big thank you to John Culliton and the Horween team for giving up their time and demonstrating the use of some really beautiful, old machinery. Most of all, a massive thank you to everyone at Horween involved in working with Crown to realise some unusual and unique requests.

Chris returned from Chicago filled with new ideas, concepts and designs and he credits the trip with providing inspiration and motivation for a lot of our new products lined up for this year. Throughout 2024, we’ll be showcasing this inspiration in fresh projects as well as our limited edition Shell Cordovans - now in their fourth year of drops! We’ve already given you some Floral Embossed Bourbon Shell Cordovan belts to kick off the year and at the end of February we’re releasing our limited edition Tumbled Shell Cordovan Harlestones.

We took plenty of photographs at the tannery and there was much leather discussion and learning, so watch out for part two!

Photography by Alex Natt.

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