Posted by Crown Northampton on

This week, we’re excited to unveil the ninth incarnation of our limited edition Horween Shell Cordovan Harlestones. To celebrate the launch of D9, our latest luxury sneaker, we bring you the second installment of our Horween Tannery visit blog feature.

Horween’s prized Shell Cordovan has been a staple in luxury leather goods for over a century, originally crafted for the fine edges of barber’s razors. Today, it’s celebrated for its exceptional quality and durability, found in the finest of leather products.

The Shell Cordovan tanning process is long and involved, it begins with a chemical bath which removes most of the hair. Then they scrape off all excess hair, pickle the skin and leave it to lie out for around a week. The skins are then tacked and nailed onto sticks and hung in the tanning pools for six weeks. The solution in these pits (crafted from a top-secret in-house recipe) is gradually strengthened over the course of these six weeks. Next, the skins are then shaved down closer to the layer that contains the shell cordovan and hot stuffed in tanning drums. Then, they are pasted to glass frames to air dry, followed by hand oiling and currying.The skins rest for 90 days in order to allow the shells to absorb the oils fully. The skin is then finally shaved down to the shell cordovan layer and cut to shape, a process which can only be done by eye and hand. Finally, it is glazed and graded. A long, lengthy process, but the quality of the finished leather makes it well worth the wait!

For the true enthusiast, our Horween Shell Cordovan sneakers are more than just footwear; they showcase a shared legacy of craftsmanship between Horween and Crown Northampton. Which is why we jumped at the chance to pay them a visit.

Our journey to Horween’s Chicago tannery last October, documented by our talented resident photographer Alex Natt, allowed us a behind-the-scenes glimpse into these time-honoured techniques. Alongside Crown Northampton’s owner, Chris Woodford, we were given the grand tour by John Culliton and shared in-depth chats with Skip and Nick Horween, returning to Northampton inspired, with heaps of new leathers for future collections.

Don’t miss the insightful images below from our trip, and keep your eyes peeled for a very special leather Horween exclusive making its debut later this year.

Horse hides prepped for shaving to find the Cordovan within

Cordovan ready for cutting into shape
Rolls of Chromexcel packaged and ready for shipping
Shells waiting for hand colouring
Shots from around the factory floor
Tanning pits where the cordovan sits for 6 weeks
Chris Woodford inspecting shells and the skin that will eventually become Shell Cordovan
A little teaser of a very special leather we'll be debuting later in the year
That’s it for our Horween photo series! For those of you who share our passion for their craft, you can check out the first installment of the photo series or explore our unique designs featuring the Horween leathers we’ve been lucky enough to get our hands on!

← Older Post Newer Post →

News - Information - Lifestyle - Looks


Introducing E·Woodford & Sons – boots and shoes from the makers at Crown Northampton

By Crown Northampton

Exciting developments have been underfoot at our factory for some time now. Our new brand E·Woodford & Sons launches this month, offering boots and shoes...

Read more


By Crown Northampton

This week we’ve got lots to shout about. We’ve got a new leather, a new style and a new construction, all in our latest shoe...

Read more