Leather 101


Grain - the outside of the animal hide. The grain side is typically de-haired leaving the grain exposed.

Flesh - the inside of the animal hide, depending on the processing of the hide and type of animal, the flesh side can be very fine or very rough.

Nap - the fleshy soft part of an animal hide.

Full-grain leather - a leather that is minimally processed so that the grain retains all of its natural characteristics and imperfections. The grain is not buffed, sanded, or corrected in any way.

Full-grain suede - also known as “flesh out” or “reverse suede.” This means that the grain side and the flesh side are intact but the flesh side is used for the outside of the shoes.

Split suede - the grain side and flesh side are both shaved off and the middle part of the hide is used. This practically eliminates all imperfections. Typically has a finer nap than a full-grain suede.

Pull-up - a characteristic of high-quality full-grain leathers where there is a temporary lightening of color when pressure is applied. This is due to the natural oil and wax in the hide moving around.

Snuffed - a leather is “snuffed” when the grain is buffed off, removing imperfections and leaving a soft velvety feel. Nubuck is snuffed leather.

Side Leather - leather from an adult cow, the hide is split into two equal pieces along the backbone creating two “sides” to be sold.

Calfskin – leather from a young cow. Noted for the tight and almost flawless grain. Calf typically has very few imperfections.

Burnishing - to make bright or shiny by rubbing the leather. We use wax and a rotating fabric wheel to burnish leather - giving it a bright finish but also adding character and depth of color and tone. Burnished leather is very often not uniform in color and tone.


ChromexcelChromexcel is one of the most famous of Horween’s products. It comes from adult cowhides and is typically used for casual shoes. Chromexcel makes great shoes lined or unlined. Chromexcel is noted for its distinct pull-up.
 Tannery: Horween Leather - Chicago, IL USA
 Type: Full Grain leather
 Feel: Waxy / oily, soft and flexible
 Finish: Smooth and bright

Shell CordovanShell Cordovan is arguably Horween’s most famous product and is hands-down the best leather money can buy. Shell Cordovan comes from the hindquarters of a horsehide and is the flesh side of the shell. The flesh is shaved and buffed very precisely to create a smooth and bright finish. Shell Cordovan is renowned for its beauty and distinct look but also for its longevity - a pair of well-maintained shell cordovan shoes can last 20-30 years. Shell Cordovan has a small amount of pull-up.
 Tannery: Horween Leather - Chicago, IL USA
 Type: Shell Cordovan
 Feel: Waxy, soft and flexible
 Finish: Smooth and bright

CalicoA relatively dry and fleshy suede. Durable and resistant to stains and water.
 Tannery: Horween Leather - Chicago, IL USA
 Type: Full Grain Suede
 Feel: Dry, and moderately firm
 Finish: Fleshy, medium to high nap

OrionVery similar to Calico, a fleshy suede that is durable and resistant to stains and water however colors tend to be brighter.
 Tannery: Horween Leather - Chicago, IL USA
 Type: Full Grain Suede
 Feel: Slightly oily, moderately soft and flexible
 Finish: Fleshy, medium to high nap; brighter colors

MohaveWaterproof and stain resistant suede with a shorter and finer nap. Used by the military for soldiers boots. The grain side is buffed to remove imperfections and leaves a soft feel, great for unlined shoes or boots.
 Tannery: S.B. Foot Tannery - Red Wing, MN USA
 Type: Full Grain Suede, grain side is buffed
 Feel: Dry, moderately firm
 Finish: Short nap

RepelloLightweight suede with a fine nap that is typically reserved for dressier shoes. Available in many rich colors.
 Tannery: Charles F. Stead Leather - Leeds, England, UK
 Type: Split Suede
 Feel: Soft and velvety
 Finish: Short and fine nap

OdesaMedium weight suede similar to repello but with a slightly rougher nap.
 Tannery: Charles F. Stead Leather - Leeds, England, UK
 Type: Split Suede
 Feel: Soft and flexible
 Finish: Fleshier, medium nap

BulldogSnuffed side leather that is burnished to give the leather character and depth of color.
 Tannery: Horween Leather - Chicago, IL USA
 Type: Snuffed Side Leather
 Feel: Waxy on the surface, flesh is dry and moderately stiff
 Finish: Waxy and bright

BuckarooFull Grain side leather that is tumbled to bring out the natural “pebble grain.” Brown colors have distinct pull-up, while black does not.
 Tannery: Horween Leather - Chicago, IL USA
 Type: Full Grain Side Leather
 Feel: Oily and pliable
 Finish: Moderately bright with noticeable pull-up

RockfordBright and pliable side leather that is notable for its very bright colors.
 Tannery: Horween Leather - Chicago, IL USA
 Type: Full Grain Side Leather
 Feel: Soft and smooth
 Finish: Bright and glassy smooth

Mimosa CalfSlightly snuffed calfskin leather that is finished by hand using aniline stains and dyes, then burnished to create depth of color.
 Tannery: La Veneta, Italy
 Type: Calfskin
 Feel: Soft and supple
 Finish: Bright

UticaToggled and tumbled side leather with noticeable natural pebble grain.
 Tannery: Horween Leather - Chicago, IL USA
 Type: Full Grain Side Leather
 Feel: Extremely pliable, not oily or waxy
 Finish: Matte

Latigo GlaceSide leather printed with baby scotch grain, burnished to bring out high and low tones.
 Tannery: Horween Leather - Chicago, IL USA
 Type: Printed side leather
 Feel: Firm and dry
 Finish: Bright

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