Check out this Q&A with John and Nick from Horween Tannery

Here’s a preview of the session yesterday, to read the full Q&A follow this link.

Question: Hello Gentlemen,
I have a few shell cordovan shoes, and the ones made with Horween are my favorites.
Can you please explain why shell sometimes gets water spots? What do you recommend we do when this occurs? I do note that Horween shell seems much less vulnerable to water spots than other makers. Thanks!

Response:The spotting is a bit of a phenomenon – it appears to me like little welts/bubbles in the finish or leather. I start by brushing (a lot), and if the spots persist I will rewet the shoe with a wet cloth. Once dry, you can apply a tiny bit of conditioner and polish.


The Tannery Row shop was a cool idea for smaller leatherworkers to get ahold of your sides. Do you see that avenue going in a direction where a customer could order sides (or seconds a la Maverick) that are in stock at the moment, or from an online inventory? For time and ease I wind up sourcing from resellers when I would prefer to be coming straight to you guys! How about in-person? Could someone visit you guys and purchase a side of leather that day?


We are working on the development of an online store where customers will be able to order direct. The idea here is that are identifying key leathers that will be offered for sale and we will plan on shipping within 72 hours of the order.
The site is currently under construction and hopefully this will be done and the leathers ready to do within the next four weeks.
I do not think we will be offering seconds through the site as we want to keep the focus of Tannery Row to offering our first run products.

That’s just a preview of the whole interview, to read the rest of the article follow this link.


Meet Our Tanneries Part 1: Horween Leather Company

The Tannery Row’s roots comes from the Horween Leather Company. John Culliton founded The Tannery Row in 2011 to fulfill the many requests from craftsmen who desired the world famous Horween leather in smaller quantities than the amount required for a traditional production drum load. With over 25 years of working for and specializing in Horween leather, John and his team has the unique ability to recommend the perfect leather for your project, footwear, garment or hand crafted leather accessories.

Horween Leather Company was founded in 1905 and is one of the oldest continuously running tanneries in the United States. For more than 100 years, Horween’s goal has been to make the best leather in the world. Making the best means doing lots of little things right. It means never mistaking fastest or cheapest with best. It means always using formulas that cut no corners, and components chosen strictly for their quality. In today’s market, where speed and flexibility are at a premium, Horween offers their customers an unparalleled blend of quality, consistency, responsiveness, and innovation.

“Quality is easy to talk about, but hard to do.” – Skip Horween

Time and slowly developing the leather makes the product better in the long run. Horween strives to provide craftsmen with a great raw material that they can start from and craft a beautiful product. The relationship between Horween and customers is a friendship — they’re in it together and this is how it should be.

Horween is most famous for their production of Shell Cordovan and Chromexcel.

Through the years, Horween has cultivated their experience to offer a dynamic line of leathers that include traditional old world tannages and techniques along with carefully selected updates. Horween’s leathers are still made today, by hand, the same way they were generations ago.

Horween Tannery

Horween Tannery

Horween Tannery

Horween Tannery

Meet Brent of Coronado leather



1. How and why did you start crafting leather goods?

For me it was a family business since 1981. My parents starting working in the leather business at that time. I was always been exposed to leather and leather products and had an interest in quality built goods, whether it was shirts, denim or leather. I slowly started working for them in the late 80’s until they retired in 1999

2. What is your brand aesthetic?

I am not sure if there is a name or description for our aesthetic…I have always designed and built what felt right and looked good. Designs tend to be less technical and more about the leather, stitching and finishing. When you start off with best ingredients, good old-fashioned American craftsmanship and pay attention to the details, you will usually end up with a great looking product.

3. What do you think about the leathercraft today?

It has really grown in recent years to a level that I have never seen. Leather was not nearly as cool in the 90’s as it is today. The internet, Etsy and Instagram have really helped small, creative young brands to evolve. We are kind of in the middle of this all as a brand. We have strong roots in the leather industry going back to the early 80’s but we are not a huge leather brand.

4. What is your craftsmanship philosophy?

Our production is small enough that we can source and build our products using the finest components possible. Where the large brands look over a much larger cost/scale when they design, we are not restricted by that as much. We cut no corners with materials, stitching or finishing. I always remember the quote I read on the Horween website from Isadore Horween and try to keep that in mind….”Use the best of everything and price goes on last. “That philosophy can apply to any brand and product and has obviously done well for the Horween company.

5. Where do you go and what do you do for inspiration?

Outside the office walls is where I really can get inspired. California weather helps that…The most inspirational destination for me more recently has been my visits to the Horween Leather tannery. The walls bleed inspiration to a “leather guy” like me. The feel, smell, the old machines all make that place an amazing place to draw from. It is not the most advanced Tannery by any means, but the attention to detail and tanning knowledge in that building is unparalleled. It inspires me to make our product worthy of the leather it is built from.

6. Any tips and tricks of the trade?

Less is more with good leathers and finishing. Don’t overwork or over-finish the leather. Mass produced products are notorious for this. Everything is overworked, over-finished and overthought. To me it is hiding the innate flaws in the product. Finishing is so important, but not to the point where it hides the work. Let the leather and craftsmanship come to the surface and showcase its real beauty.

Learn more about Coronado Leather at

Welcome to Tannery Row

The name of our company takes its inspiration from the Chicago Tannery District that had its heyday in the late 19th and early 20th century. The rich history of the Tannery District is hidden on the red and brown bricks of the historical buildings. On a rainy day, the walls tell a story with the faded outlines of past tanneries. Of the dozens of tanneries that existed in Chicagoland at that time, Horween Leather Company is the only tannery that still stands and operates today. The Tannery Row was created to extend the tannery tradition in Chicago by making leather and leather products accessible to a diverse community of artisans and small businesses.

Quality is the core value that powers Tannery Row. The leather, both rich and well crafted, is inspired by the tradition of old world craftsmanship and heritage of consistently providing the highest quality leather. We aim to provide world-class leather products to artisans, while maintaining a premium standard through direct relationships with tanneries.

Tannery Row’s quality is enriched by customer interactions. Our priority is to help you succeed by collaborating with an expert to find the appropriate leather for your project.

Our Process

1. Design your vision so you can tell us what you want your customers to experience.

2. Collaborate with an expert to discover the best leather options for your work.

3. Feel your options using swatches that highlight the uniqueness of each leather.

4. Craft your designs with the highest-quality leathers available.

We want to build a mutual trust with each customer by understanding our customers’ needs. Tannery Row has the expertise and passion to constantly work with customers to deliver a consistent, quality leather customized for each experience.

Schedule a consultation today and let us help you lead the way with exceptional products.