Herring Shoes

Be daring, be dashing, be burgundy!

14 May 2020

As I reflect on the characteristics of quality products, three attributes come to mind. Excellence in design or style, craftsmanship or manufacturing of the highest order and the exclusive use of the best materials or ingredients.

Recent additions to the Herring range has, unequivocally, all three of those attributes. They are the Cromer boot, Crawley brogues and the Barcelona II tasselled loafers…all in Cordovan leather.

All three are beautifully crafted and styled. The Crawley brogues have a vintage appeal with the toe being a blend of the more contemporary almond toe and the traditional rounder toe.

The Barcelona tasselled loafer shares the same style foundation as the top selling Barcelona in the Classic range and should become an instant success.

I am particularly drawn to the Cromer boots. They are a bold derby toe-capped boot and share the same last as the Crawley brogues. The Cromer boots are minimalist and harken to the work wear styles of old, but demand your attention because of the burgundy hue that speaks to the excellence of the materials that are used to craft all three of the styles.

Cromer boots

With respect to the burgundy hue, I am always attracted to it as it is my favourite colour. And it is, in my opinion, the most versatile of colours as it can easily stand in for a brown or black but, of course, should be appreciated for its own beauty.

There are two aspects to the three styles that ties them together. Excellence in materials; the JR oak-barked tanned leather soles and the burgundy colour in all three styles that is attributable to the Cordovan leather.

JR oak-barked tanned leather soles are arguably the best in the world and have been produced since 1871. The tanning process is complex and labour intensive. The final step in the process is the oak bark ground tanning stage. This occurs in oak lined pits that are filled with a tanning solution and agents such as oak, spruce, and mimosa bark, as well as valonea fruit. The hides just sit in this solution for about nine months. The complete process takes up to a year, compared to other tanning processes that take about a month. The consequence of the long process is that you get a much better leather. The tannins bind and conserves the leather’s protein structures, which makes the leather extremely durable, breathable and flexible. It’s also very lightweight and more comfortable to wear. Because of the complicated and long process, oak-barked tanned leather soles are expensive and only reserved for the highest quality and luxury shoes.

Now to the gorgeous uppers of the three styles, the Cordovan leather. Cordovan shoes are highly coveted. The leather is difficult and expensive to make and constantly in high demand. Cordovan shoes are discussed and debated about at much length in style and shoe forums. They are often looked at as a holy grail of men’s footwear. And, as for the burgundy colour, cordovan doesn’t take dyes as easily as other leathers and is limited in its range of colours. Typically, cordovan shoes come in black, dark brown and my favourite, burgundy.

Cordovan is the name for a leather derived from the hindquarters of a horsehide. The name cordovan derives from the Spanish city of Cordoba.

Cordovan is exceptionally durable. The pores are so dense on the hindquarters of a horse that they are not visible to the naked eye. Consequently, the hide is naturally resistant to water as well as stretching. Unlike other leather shoes that crease, cordovan ripples. Since creasing can lead to cracks in the leather, the tendency to ripple rather than crease helps to preserve the surface of the leather and the overall lifespan of the shoe. 

Furthermore, shell cordovan ages very well and develops a particularly beautiful patina over time. A well cared for pair of shoes can truly last you a lifetime.

The high price of cordovan is due to the low supply of hides, the high demand for them, and the long, complicated tanning process. It takes approximately one and half hides to make one pair of shoes and since horses are only raised as part of the food chain in a few places in the world, the supply of horsehides is small and unlikely to grow, contributing directly to the scarcity and high price of this type of leather.

Without doubt, I believe that the Crawley brogues, Barcelona loafers and Cromer boots will become best sellers. They are all exquisitely styled and crafted, but it is the cordovan leather and JR oaked barked tanned soles that gives them their distinction. Cordovan shoes are always in high demand and highly prized, so if I were you, I would be quick to secure yours.

Be daring…be dashing

As for me, the Crawley brogues are very tempting, and have the definitive standout features of the previous generation Canning burgundy brogues that I already have. I am contemplating and wrestling with whether the first loafers I will own, will be the Cordovan Barcelona. But, I can’t resist the temptation and pull of the Cromer boots. I reckon they will be the “first cab off the rank”.

Which of the three will you choose for your first pair?

Be daring…be dashing.