Shell Cordovan

Taking its name from the Spanish city of Córdoba, Shell Cordovan is a leather harvested from the rump section of a horse. Rather than using the hide of the horse, cordovan is made from the fibrous muscle (shell) that lies just below the hide. Shell cordovan generally needs less attention than calf leather. The most important thing is that you clean it.

Maintaining cordovan shoes is simpler than maintaining calf. The two main routines are brushing and boning.


  1. Brushing with a stiff-bristled brush has been addressed in the Calf section of the shoe care guide.
  2. For boning, a deer polishing bone is essential. Brush your shoes well and wipe them with a damp cloth to ensure that all dirt has been removed.
  3. Once your shoes are clean, take your deer bone and rub with moderate to firm pressure, in small sections at a time, over the entire shoe. You can use either circular or linear movements according to what works for you. Any scuffs can be worked out through persistent polishing with the deer bone.
  4. After the boning, brush your shoes thoroughly with your horsehair brush or polishing cloth to remove any excess oils on the surface and buff the leather.
  5. Even if you are wearing your cordovan shoes regularly, you need only polish them with the deer bone every month or so.
 

Cleaning: It will sometimes be necessary to clean up your cordovan shoes. The fats and oils that are deep in the material will work their way out over time, so Renovateur is the best product for cleaning it up.


  1. In order to condition your cordovan shoes, follow the steps for Basic care (brushing and boning).
  2. Once you have buffed your shoes, wrap your polishing cloth around your index and middle fingers (ensuring a taut surface) and apply a pea-sized dab of renovateur, working the renovateur into a section of the leather.
  3. Work your way around the shoe until both are well nourished. Leave the shoes for at least 20 minutes (ideally 24 hours) to allow the cream to be absorbed.
  4. Once the renovateur has been absorbed, brush well with a horsehair brush or polishing cloth.
  5. A final optional step is to buff your shoes with a lambswool polishing mitt for an even higher shine.
 

Nourishing and polishing: Many people consider the finish achieved by the Intermediate care routine to be best suited to cordovan leather as it brings out the lustrous sheen of cordovan to best effect. While cordovan is naturally rich in fats and oils, you will find that the material will need occasional nourishment. Saphir have formulated a cream polish specifically designed to nourish cordovan. You shouldn't need to use this routine more than a few times a year.


  1. Having followed all the steps for the Intermediate care regimen, apply a small amount of cordovan polish to a polishing cloth and work it in as you would with calf leather.
  2. Work your way around both shoes, leave for 30 mins for the polish to settle, then buff off with the cloth.
  3. Finish with a horsehair brush or, if you wish, a lambswool polishing mitt.