Cordovan could not be any more different than calfskin. First, cordovan leather 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. Whenever it comes to caring for your cordovan shoes, you 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 it could penetrate the cordovan and can cause those fibers to expand and actually compromise the innate integrity of the cordovan leather.
To take care of cordovan leather properly you should be very familiar with at least these two products:
The Saphir Médaille d’Or Cordovan Cream Shoe Polish is an all-natural cream polish made with beeswax, carnauba with six other nutrient waxes, and twice the amount of pigment of ordinary polishes. It’s formulated especially for high-quality cordovan leathers and does not contain turpentine like many other polishes do.
The second product is an Abbey Horn Deer Polishing Bone, which is an essential tool to getting your Cordovan Dress Shoes looking as good as new by removing any creases in the shoe.
Next, follow these six steps to polishing your cordovan leather shoes:
Step 1: Brush shoes with a Horsehair Brush
The first step, depending on how dirty or soiled your cordovan leather shoes are, is to clean them. If they’re lightly soiled, use just a little bit of water and a Horse Hair Shoe Shine Brush to brush off any type of dirt or soiling that may be on the surface. If your cordovan shoes are more soiled than this, you can use the Saphir Leather Cleaning Soap to actually shampoo the leather.
Step 2: Apply Saphir Renovateur
Next apply a small amount of Saphir Renovateur on the shoe, which both cleans and conditions it, with a soft cloth over your index and middle fingers in small circular movements. The benefit of using a cloth, as opposed to just your finger when applying Renovateur, is that it will pick up any dirt or grime remaining on the surface of the leather.
Step 3: Smooth out Creases with Deer Polishing Bone
Next use the Deer Polishing Bone to smooth out the creases along the vamp of the shoe. This deer bone is naturally oiled and helps lubricate the leather without scratching it, but don’t press too hard against the shoe. Using moderate to firm pressure, in small circular motions, rub the bone against the creases of the shoe. When finished, store the bone in a Ziploc bag to keep the oils moist on the bone.
Step 4: Apply Saphir Cordovan Cream Polish
You’re going to apply the Cordovan Cream Polish the same way as you would apply any cream polish, and that’s with a cotton chamois.Wrap the cotton chamois tightly around your two fingers and then take a little bit of the cordovan polish on the cotton chamois. Apply it using circular motions and massage it into the cordovan leather. Since cordovan is such a dense leather it’s best to actually allow the cordovan at least 30 minutes to fully absorb and nourish the cordovan leather and for the waxes to dry. After you have allowed the polish to dry and fully absorb into the leather, buff it off using our Hanger Project Horsehair Shoeshine Brush.
Step 5: Apply Saphir Mirror Gloss Wax Polish
Next use our Hanger Project High-shine Cotton Chamois to apply the mirror gloss wax polish. Since this is a relatively dry polish, it’s necessary to use a little bit of water on the shoe when applying it. Begin massaging the mirror gloss on to the toe box of the shoe. Anytime you’re really building up the layers of hard waxes, you want to concentrate that only to the hard-countered areas of the shoe that don’t bend or flex. After you’ve built up that foundation using the Saphir Mirror Gloss then you can come back on top of it with some water.
Step 6: Apply Wax Polish to Welt and Edge
Then take a welt brush and put a little bit of dark brown Saphir Pate de Luxe Wax Polish on it. And then just go across the shoe and massage the wax polish into the welt. Now this is going to do two things. One, it’s going to clean the welt. And then two, it’s going to help nourish and condition the thread that is actually used with the Goodyear welt. With all wax polishes, you need to allow them a few moments to dry. So let the wax polish sit on the edge for a little bit and then take a slightly larger welt brush and work in that polish.
Check out our video tutorial for the full process: