Horween’s Shell Cordovan Colours


November 12, 2013 by Ville Raivio

I’ve a thing for shell cordovan and particularly those from Horween, so a mostly definitive post on the various shades available came to my mind. The factory offers the usual black, brown and burgundy shell cordovan shades like the other few tanneries still trading in horse butts, yet there’s more treasures if one only knows to look for them.

Below are rounded up the usual suspects:


  • Whiskey, a very light brown
  • Natural, an undyed hide
  • Black is black
  • Color #8, a very dark burgundy or eggplant shade
  • Navy
  • Brandy, somewhat darker than Whiskey

Then come the rarer bits from top left to right:


  • Color #4, a very reddish brown
  • Gunmetal, dark and metallic grey
  • Ravello, medium brown
  • Vintage brown, darker than ravello but lighter than cigar
  • Navy
  • Green

More unusual shades among the regulars from left to right (excluding the last Chromexcel specimen):


  • Dark Cognac
  • Natural
  • Color #2, red
  • Color #4
  • Color #8
  • Intense Blue
  • Dark Green
  • Black

In addition there’s Carmina’s offerings from left to right:


  • Saddle, very light brown
  • Ruby, red
  • Cognac, mid-brown
  • Burgundy
  • Black
  • Green

Not pictured are the dark brown Cigar shade, Carmina’s Burdeos and Navy as well as Alden’s particularly dark shade of #8. In addition, Horween has made some shell cordovan with a grain pattern. These are the rarest of the pack, I’ve only seen a few pairs in Whisky, Black and #8 Grain. If I missed a shade or two, please let me know in the comments and I’ll update the post accordingly. It’s a shame we’ve only two feet.

Photos: Horween, original uploaders and Form Function Form


  1. emptym says:

    NCJack, it was Ron Rider who offered #6, as well as 2 and 4, iirc.

  2. W.S Chung says:

    where can I purchase shell cordovan skins in color #8 and navy?

  3. […] As for the colors this leather comes in, it’s relatively limited, and most stores tend to stock mostly a classic oxblood cordovan (aka #8) and black. But there are the others, and the names have largely been chosen by the Horween company itself. The (non-exhaustive) list as follows, with special thanks to Keikari: […]

  4. JSO1 says:

    From my conversations with Nick Horween and my general searches of the internet, here is what I know about shell colors. I haven’t heard or read anything about shell cordovan with a grain finish. Sounds very odd.

    Tan / light browns:


    Medium browns:

    Ravello (special color for Alden)
    Walnut (special color for AE, now discontinued)
    Mahogany (like Ravello with a touch more red)
    Dark Mahogany (like Mahogany, but darker)

    Dark browns:

    Dark Cognac (what AE and C&J refer to as Brown)
    Cigar (special color for Alden)
    Dark Brown (special color for AE, very dark)

    Burgundy/red spectrum:

    Color #2 (what Carmina calls Ruby, and what Alden used on the AoC 20×20 LWB)
    Color #4
    Color #6
    Color #8 (what everyone calls Burgundy – almost everyone applies extra finishing to it later, like Alden and AE do, hence the variations – Carmina’s Burdeos and Burgundy are the same thing – Color #8)

    Random colors:

    Intense Blue
    Dark Green

  5. Ville Raivio says:

    Heya, Patt.

    The Shoemaking Forum is Facebook’s most popular destination for shoemakers around the world. Most tanneries don’t sell small batches to individual customers, but I’m sure someone on the forum knows where you can buy some natural shell.


  6. Patt says:

    I would like to have natural shell cordovan skin. How can I buy it?

  7. NCJack says:

    I’ve seen a #6 Cordovan before, rather similar to the “ruby” shown above, but only once and I can’t recall who used it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Only a beautiful life is worth living.

"If John Bull turns around to look at you, you are not well dressed; but either too stiff, too tight, or too fashionable".
~ Beau Brummell