Shell cordovan: We all love it. Every Alden fan out there is either saving up for their first pair, or saving up for another pair.
It’s the horse’s ass and there is no leather on this planet that we’d rather have wrapped around our feet. Pages have been written (and probably will be again) about the virtues of this phenomenal material.
In today’s Alden scene it’s no secret that the more elusive a color is, the more desirable it can become. Cigar, Whiskey, Ravello, and even the extinct Mahogany and the almost non-existent Color 4 are all beautiful in their own unique ways and their popularity is only amplified by their scarcity. The shells required to produce these rarer colors must be so perfect that only a very small percentage are deemed worthy by Horween, the Chicago tannery that supplies all of Alden’s shell cordovan. The dyes used in Black and Color 8 can cover up the minor imperfections that are usually present in the surface of the shell which is why Black and Color 8 make up the vast majority of shoes produced.
As common as it is, Burgundy or Color 8, is often left under-appreciated. Color 8 is virtually synonymous with Cordovan. In fact, the word “cordovan” is often incorrectly used to describe the color burgundy. The color has stood the test of time as one of the most versatile elements in a footwear collection. Color 8 can be worn almost year-round with everything from chinos to jeans, from navy suits to tweed slacks. It just works.
In my opinion, the best feature of Color 8 is the way it ages. With time, sunlight, maintenance, and wear, Color 8 first brightens up to a rich red and then fades beautifully to a warm, mellow brown. Red dyes are usually the first to go when exposed to UV light and in this case, the color neutralizes, revealing the tan leather underneath. Not only does the dye lighten, it lightens unevenly, giving way to the natural imperfections in the shell and even splotches and strokes from the application of the dyes. These highs and lows give an added depth to the shoes that would be impossible to replicate by hand and no two pairs – in fact, no two shoes – are alike.