You'd better be rich to afford it, according to the Wall Street Journal;
Shell cordovan leather comes from the muscle beneath the hide in a small area around the rump of a horse. The shell is a layer of very dense fibers that, after a lengthy tanning process, yields leather that is particularly shiny and durable. When cordovan shoes scuff, a simple rub will erase the scratch. But since its ancient discovery by the Moors in the Spanish city of Cordoba (the town from which its name is derived), the material has been far scarcer than cow leather. A single horse provides only enough cordovan for a single pair of shoes.Markets are amazing and subtle.
Adding to its cost is a long processing time. At Horween Leather in Chicago, a major supplier to brands like Alden and Allen Edmonds, cordovan takes six months to tan. To compare, its Chromexcel leather made from adult cows takes just 28 days to finish. Finished cordovan can cost up to 10 times more than high-quality steer leather.So, why the sudden 'shortage' of cordovan leather?
...the answer lies in the complex dynamics of the hide market. The cordovan supply is determined by the consumption of horse meat, explained Nick Horween, the company's 30-year-old vice president and the fifth generation in his family's business. A century ago, when horses were still common transportation and horse meat was widely eaten, hides were plentiful.
But today, with world-wide consumption of equine flesh declining, hides are limited. Mr. Horween estimated that the company processes just 15% of the horsehide it used to take in when his ancestors started the company in 1905.Which reminds us of this, from 2009, courtesy of the Seattle Times;
There used to be a thriving horse market in this country, with buyers bidding on horses for processing plants in Stanwood; Maytown, Thurston County [WA]; and more than 20 other plants across the country, supplying an eager trade, particularly in Europe.
But the country's remaining three horse slaughterhouses, in Illinois and Texas, closed in 2007 after a sustained campaign by animal-rights activists that resulted in Congress forbidding USDA inspection of horse meat for human consumption.
That ended any legal commercial packing industry for horse meat in this country.Still, there is a demand for horse meat, particularly in Europe. But with no packer competition in the U.S. to supply it, and a glut of horses, foreign packers can set their price.So the horses are free to roam the West and trample the crops of poorer Americans. At least the 1%, who can afford $2,000 shoes, are inconvenienced.