Shell Cordovan, the most luxurious leather available

Have you ever heard of Shell Cordovan? No, well, Cordovan is a type of leather that really stands out, with its glossy finish, refined textures, and durable nature. These characteristics make Cordovan the leather of choice for high-end shoemakers. The leather is rare, expensive, and its production process is very slow.

Our master shoemakers have the experience in working with the high-end leather type, which makes Heighlon one of the few brands in the world to offer a limited product range made with shell cordovan.


The name ‘Cordovan’ comes from the Spanish city of Cordoba, and means ‘from Cordoba’. This region is known for its famous Andalusian horse breeding tradition, dating back as far as the 7th century.

Unlike conventional cowhide leather, Cordovan is an equine leather. It’s made from horsehide or, more specifically, the fibrous shell that sits beneath the surface hide of a horse’s hindquarters. The process to produce Cordovan is painstaking; a single shell is tanned, shaved, smoothed, and dyed by hand, and then treated with vegetable oils over the course of several weeks and carefully polished before it leaves the tannery – an intensive and expensive process taking six months or more.

In contrast to calf, Shell Cordovan is completely smooth, without a grain. This gives Cordovan shoes their high-shine and luxurious finish, which suits rich dark browns or cognac colors, or the classic burgundy.

It also behaves a little differently than calf. It’s stiffer, and while it does become incredibly supple and mould to the wearer’s feet over time, it does take longer to break-in. We expect a pair of our Cordovan shoes – well cared for and resoled when required – to last for decades.

Shell Cordovan is only available in four colors: dark brown, cognac, navy, and burgundy (the most common color of shell cordovan).

Are you a real connoisseur, and do you want your new shoes made with this high-end luxurious leather?

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