Shell cordovan is often considered to be one of the finest leathers in the world. Due to its unique properties, shell cordovan has become popular for footwear and leather goods manufacturers around the world.
Shell cordovan is an equine leather which comes from a fibrous flat muscle beneath the rump of the horse (shell). A process which traditionally takes over six months; the shells are tanned, stuffed, shaved and then processed to produce the final shell.
Unlike traditional leather which may crease, shell cordovan tends to "roll" giving it a much different look after significant use. In small leather goods, this rolling is less apparent but the reduction in overall creasing is a huge benefit. Shell cordovan also tends to be incredibly water resistant, long lasting and able to take a beating. It isn't a fluke that you often see shoes made in the 1960s and 1970s made from Shell Cordovan still hanging around secondhand markets.
When someone mentions shell cordovan, Horween Leather Company is usually not far to follow. Horween is the oldest tannery producing shell cordovan (and thankfully in the United States too). Many other tanneries have followed suit and begun producing shell cordovan to try to capture a percentage of the market share.