Let's Talk About Leather

If you wear Aurora Shoes then you know that the secret to our shoes' comfort lies mostly in our high quality leather.  We don't mean to downplay the importance of good design and solid soles, but if the top leather wasn't thick and supple enough to stretch like it does, we'd be making an entirely different kind of shoe. 
A sampling of our gorgeous leather awaiting straps and buckles
As you probably know, we pride ourselves on using locally sourced materials.  While Chicago may not sound very local to our fellow Central New Yorkers, it's just about as local as it gets in manufacturing these days.  Local enough in fact for Dave to plan a family road trip to visit the Horween Leather Company over the 4th of July weekend.  Dave enjoyed touring the factory and returned home with a renewed appreciation for the fine work that Horween does.
image via Horween.com
The Horween Leather Company was founded in 1905 and is one of the oldest continuously running tanneries in the United States.  Having started in the heyday of Chicago's meat packing industry, Horween is the only remaining tannery in the city today and is now in its 4th generation of family ownership.
Dave's view of the Cordovan Floor
In the leather industry Horween has become synonymous with quality.  They supply the only leather used to make NFL footballs and NBA basketballs.  We love using Horween's Chromexcel leather because it's the best we can find.  Like us, Horween understands that compromising on quality is not an option.  While perusing their website, the quote below struck a chord and reminds us of our own shoe making philosophy:

"As tanneries go we're not the biggest, the fastest or the cheapest, which means we need to be the best. Our business is built on doing things other people don't, won't or can't."
Arnold Horween Jr.
President, 1983 - 2003
Arnold Horween Jr. via Horween.com
 Horween's dedication to producing the finest leather for our shoes requires mature hides, top quality ingredients (food grade beef tallow, cosmetic grade beeswax and tree bark to name a few) and plenty of time.  It takes 28 production days to create the supple, weather resistant leather that we purchase.

Chromexcel leather air drying via Horween.com
When I asked Dave what part of his visit made the biggest impression, he focused on the amount of skill that leather production required and the attention to detail that Horween displayed throughout its production process.  We pride ourselves on the craftsmanship that goes into the making of our shoes and are glad to be working with the Horween Leather Company.

You can read more about Horween on their website or at their blog

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Photography by Erin Little , Ginny Sheller , Katherine Huysman .

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