Nomad X Horween
April 11th, 2019 | Words by Bryson Smith | Photos Courtesy of Horween
Ever since we started building phone cases and other soft goods at Nomad, we have partnered with the Horween Leather Company. Horween is one of the oldest continually operated tanneries in the United States. We found Horween in our pursuit of quality materials that stand up to adventure. Not only did we find a material durable enough for our purposes, we were thrilled about the unique properties of vegetable-tanned Horween Leather to age and patina with wear.
"When I imagined what real American leather was, I had a clear vision in my mind of what it was. I then went looking for it, and when I found Horween, it completely embodied my vision."
The Horween Leather we use allows us to fully realize our product vision—building tools that are durable and rugged. The distinct characteristics of the material, seen in the patina that comes with use, are also a core part of our product identity. In a world increasingly driven by monocultural designs it’s important to us to stand against the tide of products that all look and feel the same— and instead build objects with character. That’s where Horween Leather Co. comes in.
While Horween has grown and expanded its tannages and blends over the years, one thing hasn’t changed since its inception— a commitment to making things by hand. The attention to detail that working by hand creates ensures that each piece of leather is of the highest quality and is unique. Their commitment to details matches our own dedication to building products of the highest quality. The unique tannages that we incorporate into our products, like Dublin and Shell Cordovan, are world renowned and instantly recognizable as Horween.
The Horween Story
Horween is family owned and operated and has been this way since it was founded in 1905. We are glad to be in the hands of a five-generation family business that truly cares for its customers and partners. Horween has occupied the same location on the corner of Elston & Ashland in Chicago, Illinois since 1920. Horween grew famous for its Aniline Chromexcel, a tannage developed by the tannery’s founder, Isidore Horween. As Horween grew and expanded, Isadore's sons, Ralph and Arnold, worked to create a leather specifically for NFL footballs. That tannage is still in use today.
"We always felt there was a right way and a wrong way to make fine leather. It takes us at least six months to make a cordovan shell. Our cordovan could probably be made faster, and people might not even be able to tell the difference… but I can "
Horween remains the exclusive supplier for NFL footballs and as well as supplying leather for NBA game balls. Horween Leather Co. is currently the only tannery still operating in Chicago. In days past, there were as many as 40 tanneries operating in Chicago at once. Horween remains as a last bastion of doing things the right way; not the cheap or fast way.
In the coming weeks, we will be exploring our partnership with Horween, the tanning process, the leather we use, and the history of the tannery. If you’ve ever had one of our cases or Apple Watch Straps, you know that the leather has a unique and natural feel. We want to share with you, our community, how that is accomplished and why partnering with Horween matters to us at Nomad. Look out for upcoming entries about Horween.
Our Favorite Leather Gear
Want to join us on our journey? Stay up to date with the latest from The Nomadic.