If you read the last post on shoes you know I’m a believer in buying quality over quantity. The Allen Edmonds shoes I mentioned will last you about 10 years. But what if you really don’t like shopping?

The answer: Shell Cordovan.

 

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  1. They require next no maintenance – Rich in natural fats, the shoes are ‘self lubricating’ and simply need to be brushed on occasion to raise them to a high shine.
  2. Non-porous  – Cordovan lacks the pores of calf skin leather and is waterproof.
  3. Strong – These shoes will last upwards of 50 years in normal rotation.

Most dress shoes you’ll find in department stores are made from some variation of calf skin—this is common and probably not groundbreaking. Calf skin (leather from a cow) is porous and strong and a natural first choice for making quality shoes…and a really well made pair like the AEs will give you a decade of wear.

Shell cordovan is a step above. While most people perceive cordovan as a color, it is first and foremost equine leather from hindquarters covering the rump. In layman’s terms, that’s the covering of a horse’s ass. Because each horse produces only enough shell cordovan for a single pair of shoes, because there is a ban on raising horses exclusively for leather, and because there is only one production company worth their salt (Horween) the material cost is high.

Most women would balk at having the same pair of shoes for 50 years, but in a men's store "brown or black" can be an appropriate adage.

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I recommend the Allen Edmonds cordovan collection as a great place to start. You're paying for the quality of the craftsmanship and the level of customer service over the name. If you're in the Atlanta area, check out the Dunwoody store and ask for Lupe or Cody.

For a step up the fashion ladder, Alden makes an impeccable shoe with a New England flair lower on the customer service totem pole but higher on quality. If you're in the market for Aldens, contact Brand at H. Stockton Lenox or shop online at TheShoeMart.com.

 

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