Visited Horween Leather Co. Part2 (2017)
This time, my trip to the US was somehow special not only because several pairs of Alden shoes were waiting but also because I was fortunate again to have a chance to visit Horween factory.
This time, however, Nick was unfortunately out of office but his father, Skip, the president of the company was kindly waiting for us to show the factory. It was really honorable to have a tour guided by the president Horween. :-)
After the introduction and greetings, we started the factory tour from the material yard. He explained that the raw hide is usually coming from France and Quebec City in Canada where they eat horse. Raw hide is preserved with salt before shipping to Horween.
As the first process of the production, rough edges of the hide are trimmed off and transferred to the pickling process to remove the hair from the hide.
It seems acid liquid contains a bit of vegetable tanning solution in order to make it to work more effectively in the next process.
After this process, the surface of the hide becomes very soft so that vegetable tanning solution will penetrate smoothly into the cells of the hide.
Vegetable tanning solution is produced in house with tree bark etc. Raw hide will be put into the bath and tanned gradually by taking 60 days.
After the tanning process, rough edges of the hide will be cut out and separated between smooth and rough surface areas by one of the skilled workers.
According to him, he has been working at Horween for more than 40 years!
He quickly discerns shell (smooth surface) from non-shell (rough surface) area to cut rough parts out.
During the process, fish-base oil is used and applied to the leather. It seems this oil stays soft-solid at the room temperature so that oil will be warmed to penetrate effectively into the deep inside of the leather.
Back side of the leather (opposite side of the hair side) will be shaved off and the shell layer will clearly appear. Then the workers can cut off at the brink of non-shell area.
As taking a look at the cutting edge of the leather, dark layer can be seen on the surface side (again back side of the leather) and this is the shell.
Without polished, shell surface is matte but if polished by the machine, it's gradually getting glossy. (Skip is polishing the natural color shell)
The final process is inspection. Unfortunately, we couldn't find any rare shell in the scrap box but he kindly cut out #8 shell and gave us a piece of #8 shell with his autograph on it. (This large lighter color shell is bourbon cordovan)
After the factory tour, we signed on the leather hanged on the wall just like I did the last time!
As our souvenirs we purchased some Horween goods and took a picture together! I've got Horween logo shoe horn made of color 4 cordovan which became a great treasure of mine! The shade of color 4 is really gorgeous...
This was my second factory visit and it's always fun to see how our lovely Horween Shell Cordovan is made! That'll be great if I could luckily come back here again in the near future! :-)