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  • Tracy Freese
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Horween Chromexcel Leather - A Minimalist Material

The Horween Leather Company has been around since 1905, which would lead many people to assume that they must have made numerous changes to the way in which they do business in order to survive for such a long period of time in a competitive market. You might well be surprised to learn that their most famous tanning process, known as Chromexcel, is done almost identically to the way it was done when the process was first put into place back in 1911.

There have been some very subtle changes made to the Chromexcel way of doing things, but those tend to be more on the use of specific ingredients, as opposed to the process itself. For example, whale oil was commonly used as one of the ingredients, but Horween decided that a new, more available and less controversial, oil be used in the production of this specific type of leather. Think of it as a great recipe that has to be slightly altered when one or more ingredient is no longer available. You don’t notice any real difference at the end, especially if time is taken to ensure that the proper replacement is used.

We live in a time where shortcuts are routinely taken in the production of materials, with the end result being a lesser product. That we have come to accept this as the norm is a little sad, but Horween are not a company that subscribes to that way of doing business. You need only look at the Chromexcel process to see just how involved it really is.

The hides arrive at the Chicago factory with the hair still intact, and are then put through a rigorous process that takes 28 working days to complete. All told, there are 89 different processes used in the creation of Chromexcel, with each of the 5 floors of the factory being used at least once to create the finished product. There are few other companies out there that would be willing to put in that much time and effort, but when you see the finished product it becomes easy to understand why Horween take the time to do it. They end up with products that look and feel as though they have been created with the greatest attention to detail, which is exactly why the Chromexcel process was brought into being in the first place.

When you purchase a product made from Chromexcel leather, you can expect that it will last longer than most of the other leather options that you have available to you. Horween don’t believe in making disposable items, which is just one more reason why they have been able to stay at the top of the industry for more than 100 years. The process that goes into producing Chromexcel is complicated, but the result is simply a better type of leather that will, like Horween, very much stand up to the test of time.