Shell cordovan leather, sometimes called just “cordovan” leather, is a top-of-the-line equine leather for making shoes, wallets, bags and many small leather accessories. Collected from the fibrous, flat muscle on the rump of a horse, this leather is noteworthy for its smooth grain, durability and resistance to creasing.
Cordovan leather is so durable that it was once used to make razor strops for sharpening straight-edged razors. Like many other high-end leathers, shell cordovan leather requires proper care to maintain its properties. So, even though cordovan leather is tough, it still needs to be cleaned and have some specially-formulated leather conditioner applied to it from time to time.
Why Use Leather Conditioner?
Using a little leather conditioner from time to time helps maintain the smooth, shiny appearance of shell cordovan leather. This can keep the leather from drying out and losing its shine, or becoming stained with water spots from exposure to moisture. Applying a thin layer of shell cordovan conditioner can also help remove some scuff marks and light scratches—although there are limits to this. Taking good care of shell cordovan leather is important because shell corddovan is very costly compared to many other leathers.
Applying Shell Cordovan Conditioner
The application method for shell cordovan conditioner is relatively simple:
- Begin by wiping the cordovan leather product clean with a dry cloth. This will help remove particulates so they don’t get trapped in the conditioner.
- Using a cloth or sponge that has been wetted with just a drop or two of water, gently apply some conditioner to the surface of the leather. This layer of conditioner should be very thin—too much may spoil your results.
- Rub the conditioner into the leather using circular motions.
- Let your leather dry for about 3-5 minutes.
- Polish the surface with a cloth, piece of felt, or a horse-tail brush.
The major caveat is that you shouldn’t apply the conditioner too thickly or too often—this can actually result in creating a layer of buildup that diminishes the aesthetic value of the leather rather than maintaining it.
Curious about shell cordovan leather? Check out the Pan American Leathers shop to see what’s available!