Hi, my name is Kirby Allison, and I'm the founder of The Hanger Project. Today I'm going to show you how to take care of shell cordovan leather dress shoes. Shell cordovan is completely different than standard calfskin and as such it really requires special care in order to protect and extend the life of these shoes. If taken care of properly, shell cordovan can literally last a lifetime. Cordovan couldn't be any more different than calfskin. First, cordovan is from a horse not a cow. Second, instead of the skin cordovan is actually a membrane. It's the rear membrane or the flat membrane that you find under the rear quarters or hind quarters of the horse. Now what makes cordovan leather really special is that it has a very tight, fibrous structure that helps make this material so durable. And one of the things that's special about cordovan during the tanning process is that actually, when Horween tans it, it's rolled under glass bottles to further compress that core structure or that membrane structure. So why this is important whenever it comes to caring for your cordovan shoes, is that you really want to stay away from using traditional calfskin products that use solvents to penetrate that leather. If you use those traditional calfskin products with solvents, then what it can do is it penetrates the cordovan and can cause those fibers to expand and actually compromise the kind of innate integrity of the cordovan leather.
This tutorial is going to walk you through the complete process for both cleaning, conditioning, and shining your cordovan shoes using Saphir shoe polish. In this tutorial, we're going to be utilizing the Saphir Medaille d'Or collection of luxury shoe care products. Now, what I really love about Saphir Medaille d'Or is it's the only collection of shoe polish to have a cordovan-specific polish developed specifically for this unique leather. Now the cordovan polish utilizes a Neatsfoot oil in order to condition and nourish the cordovan leather and to maintain that oil structure without introducing solvents like a traditional calfskin cream polish does. We're also going to be using the Saphir Renovateur, which is a gentle cleaner and conditioner; it's a water based formulation that uses mink oil. Again, to help clean and then condition, and then another product that we're going to be using that is completely unique to cordovan care is the deer polishing bone. Now the deer polishing bone is used to smooth out the creasing that occurs naturally with cordovan across the vamp and to help redistribute some of those waxes that expel to the surface. And then finally if you desire a higher gloss polish than what the cordovan cream is able to achieve, I really enjoy using Saphir's new Medaille d'Or Mirror Gloss. I specifically recommended it for the exotics such as cordovan or crocodile and cordovan because it has a lower concentration of solvents than their traditional Pate de Luxe wax polish, and so you're still building up that layer or that shine using hard waxes, but without introducing those solvents into the leather.
For today's shoeshine video we're going to be using a pair of Anthony Cleverley Cordovan Churchill shoes. Now the Churchill from Anthony Cleverley or George Cleverley is one of their most iconic shoes that was developed specifically for Churchill because whenever he was getting older he was having trouble bending over to tie his shoes. So, they did basically a lace up wingtip with a lazy man's side. These are a limited edition pair, one of 50 cordovan Churchills, that George Glasgow lent to me for this tutorial. The first step depending on how dirty or soiled your cordovan leather shoes are is going to be to clean them. Now if they're lightly soiled like these are I recommend just using a little bit of water and a horsehair shoe shine brush in order to just brush off any type of dirt or soiling that may be on the surface. Now if your cordovan shoes are more soiled than this, you can use the Saphir leather cleaning soap to actually shampoo the leather but that's not necessary for these because they're really in pretty good condition.
Next we're going to apply a light coat of the Saphir Medaille d'Or Renovateur to the cordovan shoes. Now I like starting with the Saphir Renovateur because the water based mink oil formulation helps provide additional cleaning while also nourishing the cordovan with the mink oil. Take a little bit of the Saphir Renovatuer and then apply it using moderate pressure and small circular motions. And again, what we're doing here is one, providing additional cleaning to pull off any kind of small superficial water spots. And then also, that mink oil is going to penetrate into the cordovan to begin that nourishing process. I'm going to allow this a few minutes to dry and then I'm going to come back over it and buff it off with the horsehair shoe shine brush.
After you've allowed the Renovateur a few minutes to dry then come on top of it with the horsehair brush to buff it off. Now I'm using one of our Hanger Project Deluxe Shoeshine Brushes. Now, this brush uses a high-density 100 percent tail hair. And what I like about this is because it has a 100 percent tail and no mane, you don't get any of the shedding that you do with normal brushes. Now one of the things that's quite unique to cordovan is that because it's such an oily leather you really do want to spend extra time brushing it versus what you would do on a standard pair of calfskin shoes.
Next what we're going to do is we're going to take our deer polishing bone and we're going to use it to smooth out some of the creasing that occurs across the vamp. Now a deer polishing bone is a deer bone that is oiled. So, the natural oils are retained by the bone. And what that does is it helps lubricate the bone so that it slides across the leather without scratching it. Now during this step, you really need to be careful not to use any of the hard edges. Although cordovan is a very tough leather, if you try hard enough you will scratch it. So, we don't recommend trying too hard. I'm going to take the deer polishing bone. You definitely want to keep the shoe tree in the shoe during this process. And I'm just going to kind of press those creases out. I'm using moderate to firm pressure on one of the smooth edges of the deer bone in small kind of circular motions to help work those creases out.
Now this white residue you see right here is basically us redistributing those waxes and some oil from the bone being imparted onto the leather. So, once we buff this off and then come on top with the cordovan polish that will completely disappear. So you can see that I've made really good progress and the left shoe. I've done a good job right through here. But still right here where the wingtip is kind of sewn and the pattern is sewn into this cordovan I could probably use a little more work.
It's really important that the deer polishing bone still has the natural oils and that's what helps lubricate, slide the bone, and then kind of redistribute those oils in the cordovan. I highly recommend storing your deer polishing bone in a plastic Ziploc bag to minimize the amount of contact it has with the air during storage. And then if you ever find that your deer bone has kind of lost that smooth kind of oily texture then that means it's time to replace the deer bone.
Next we're going to condition and polish the cordovan leather using the Saphir Medaille d'Or Cordovan Cream Polish. Now the Cordovan Cream Polish is highly unique. It was formulated specifically for cordovan shoes and to the best of my knowledge, it's the only cream product out there, or shoe care product for that matter, that is formulated specifically for the unique characteristics of cordovan leather. Now what's unique about the cordovan polish versus the traditional Pommadier cream polish is for one, it doesn't have a high solvent base. So, it's not going to penetrate into that leather and help expand that very tight kind of membrane structure. And then it uses a Neatsfoot oil base in order to penetrate and condition the cordovan, which at its essence is really an oiled leather. Now it's available in five different colors, in a neutral, a cordovan, a light brown, a dark brown, and a black. Now I recommend matching it as closely as possible, but if you can't find a perfect match then you can always use the neutral.
Now one of the other things that's nice about the cordovan cream polish is that it has pigment. As you remember pigment is very important towards the polishing process because it helps repair any types of nicks or scratches or discoloration that occurs just during natural wear. I really recommend always using a pigmented cream polish whenever you're polishing shoes to help restore and renew that finish.