Alden Color 8 Shell Cordovan Patina and Aging

Three pairs of Alden in Horween Color 8 Shell Cordovan
Three pairs of Alden in Horween Color 8 Shell Cordovan

Ever since I have owned my first Alden pair of shoes in Color #8 Horween Shell Cordovan, I’ve noticed the color patina to a lighter shade over time. I’ve observed it happens most prominently with Alden’s Color #8 Shell Cordovan because the color starts very dark. I believe that Alden treats their Shell Cordovan (from Horween) with their own glaze that provides sheen and glossiness. On the other hand, their color 8 chromexcel brightens up much more quickly.

Details:

These are three Alden shoe pairs pictured and their dates purchased:

  • Alden x JCrew Color #8 Shell Cordovan Captoe Boot (10/06/2013)
  • Alden x The Bureau Belfast Color #8 Shell Cordovan Longwing Blucher (12/28/2015)
  • Alden x Epaulet NYC Color #8 Shell Cordovan Tanker Boot (11/30/2016)
Alden x JCrew Color 8 Shell Cordovan Captoe Boot
Alden x JCrew Color 8 Shell Cordovan Captoe Boot
Alden x The Bureau Belfast Color 8 Shell Cordovan Longwing
Alden x The Bureau Belfast Color 8 Shell Cordovan Longwing
Alden x Epaulet Color 8 Shell Cordovan Tanker Boot
Alden x Epaulet Color 8 Shell Cordovan Tanker Boot

My shoe care routine for these three pairs of Shell Cordovan have been the same:

1. Wipe down with damp microfiber cloth after every so number of wears
2. Brush with a Horsehair Shoe Brush

Every 6-12 months, apply some Venetian Shoe Cream to the cordovan sparingly, letting it dry, wipe down any excess cream, then back to brushing.
 
For any scuffs, I apply a small drop of Venetian Shoe Cream in the area and then use a Polished Deer Bone to rub circularly with light pressure. I’ve tried the Deer Bone without any cream and noticed it doesn’t do much. You can also use the back of a metal spoon to achieve similar results.

I’ve yet to need to apply any wax based polish to the shoes.

Color depth variance on color 8 shell cordovan
Color depth variance on color 8 shell cordovan

Recently, I feel that Alden’s Color 8 batches have been much darker than I remember. The color looks almost black unless in direct sunlight. I believe much of the reason Alden re-dyes their Color 8 is to minimize any blemishes/scars the leather may have.

I’ve yet to determine what causes the lightening of color in the Color 8 Shell Cordovan. It might be pigments naturally degrading with age or even direct sunlight playing a role. Either way, we each have our own perceptions of what Color 8 Shell Cordovan should look like – whether a very dark burgundy or a deep, vibrant red, Color 8 will always be king.

Oldest pair of Color 8 shell cordovan from the top
Oldest pair of Color 8 shell cordovan from the top
As color 8 shell cordovan lightens, the leather shows great character.
As color 8 shell cordovan lightens, the leather shows great character.

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