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Inside Steven Alan

Factory Visit: Horween Leather Company

  • Drew, who manages our Chicago shop, recently visited the Horween factory. Located just fifteen minutes from our shop, the family-run company produces leather for several brands we carry, including Wolverine, Shinola, Oak Street Bootmakers, and our own Steven Alan watches. The factory has been in operation for over 100 years, and with most employees spending 20+ years on the factory floor, it’s no surprise that it felt like home. Drew walks us through his tour with director Nick Horween:

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    Shell cordovan watch straps start here, with each horse hide expertly expected and prepped for the tanning process.

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    Nick Horween, fifth generation Horween leather maker, walks the factory floor with me. Our Chicago shop carries four brands that utilize Horween leather, including Oak Street Bootmakers, Wolverine 1000 Mile, Shinola, and our very own SA shell cordovan watch straps.

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    All shell cordovan leather is tanned in two thirty-day soaks in this tree-bark based solution.

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    Before it’s dyed, the chromexcel process leaves the leather “wet blue.” Each piece is ironed and split for uniform quality and sizing.

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    After the leather is spread, it’s left to air dry on the fifth, and top floor of the factory.

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    The leather is trimmed for uniformity and quality.

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    Once the leather dries out from the mill dye process, it is surface finished with the color of the client’s choosing.

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    It is then ironed out and once again left to air dry. These pallets are soon-to-be footballs. Horween supplies Wilson with all of their leather for footballs, basketballs, baseball mitts, and other leather sporting goods.

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    Nick shows me the quality of Horween’s tanning process. When you bend the leather in half, the tannins come to the surface and spread out, but with a simple rub of the leather, they even out again

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    After the tanning process is complete, the leather is branded and packed for delivery.

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    Finished leather.

    Many thanks to Nick and Horween for having us! You can read more about the company here.

    - Photography by Todd Pinckney

    This entry was posted on Friday, February 7th, 2014 at 5:55 pm and is filed under In Stock. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
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