Discover Chromexcel Boots And The Leather They're Made From

Chromexcel boots have a glossy shine that no other type of leather does. It is often imitated, but never really fully done justice to by inferior footwear. 

If you want a pair of casual or light duty boots that make a statement, a pair of boots in Chromexcel leather does so in style. 

But what exactly IS Chromexcel, anyway? Why does it matter? 

Chromexcel is a type of leather that's used in a number of industries including shoes as well as leather upholstering, ladies bags and so on. The use of this leather has actually made some brands famous and inspired an industry of knock-offs that use anything but.

Why consider boots made with Chromexcel? Because they're gorgeous to look at, but also very durable. Let's get into that a bit more. 

What Is Chromexcel Leather? 

Chromexcel leather is leather that has been tanned using a specific process that's rather unique in that it is a mixed tanning process. 

nicks boots made with chromexcel leather

Typically, leather in its various grains is either chrome tanned or vegetable tanned. The former uses a chromium salt solution to preserve the leather, whereas the latter uses vegetation-derived acids (tannins, usually from tree bark) to do it. 

Often, vegetable tanned leather is a little stiffer, a little harder but also with supple strength. This makes it well-suited to working applications such as horse tack, shoes, leather belts, gun holsters and so on. 

Chrome-tanned leather tends to be a little softer, but with a slightly greasy feel and closer to a gloss shine rather than the matte shine of vegetable tanned leather. 

Chromexcel hits the middle ground between the two, with the softer feel and glossy look of chrome-tanned leather and the supple strength of vegetable-tanned leather. 

So why is that noteworthy, you ask? Who cares? 

Well, as it happens, a very influential bootmaker in pop culture was known for making their boots exclusively using Chromexcel leather, giving their boots a distinctive shine that other brands didn't have. 

They paired the leather with an air-cushioned outsole, giving them a very distinctive soft feel. Initially these boots became popular among postal carriers, police and factory workers in and around Northampton, England, but eventually caught on as a fashion item. 

Yep! We're talking about Dr. Martens. That brand made their name using Chromexcel leather and its trademark appearance. Unfortunately, in the fullness of time, their production shifted to using lesser-quality materials and shifted production overseas. 

It's been known to happen from time to time with boot companies. 

Who Makes Chromexcel? 

Chromexcel is made in one place, the Horween Leather Company of Chicago. Horween is one of the few tanneries still operating in the United States, along with Wickett and Craig, Hermann Oak and a few others. 

Horween, oddly enough, is also the official supplier of leather for NFL footballs (in fact, Ralph Horween, son of the company's founder and later an executive there, played for the Chicago Cardinals) and of NBA basketballs. 

Chromexcel is their exclusive invention, having invented and honed the formula in the late 1900s. It's an arduous process, requiring a month to complete. 

The leather is initially cured with chrome salts to create the wet blue leather - the initial stage before being fully preserved - and then vegetable tanned and hot oil stuffed, impregnating the leather with a layer of preserving fats and sealing it. Then it's dyed, and oiled for shipping. 

No two batches are completely alike, in that the unique composition of each lot of leather requires subtle manipulation of the ingredients to achieve the desired effect. This is unlike almost any other leather you can buy. 

The end result is a leather that makes an amazing appearance, with a soft but slightly greased feel, but is also supple and strong. That makes it very popular for fashion shoes and boots, very high-end upholstery, clothing and luggage. 

In other words, given the arduous manufacturing process and qualities of the leather, it's the preferred leather of luxury. 

What About Chromexcel Boots? 

Obviously, boots made with Chromexcel leather have been around for ages. After all, the aforementioned English boot brand made the texture and appearance of Chromexcel part of pop culture...only to drop it later, but so much for that. 

Why consider them? Because they are absolutely gorgeous for starters. The leather has a feel unlike any other, and people who wear them tend to feel they require a little less break-in and have a softer feel than vegetable-tanned boots. 

And if you maintain that high mirror shine, your footwear will make a statement. You are only interested in the best, and looking the part. 

Nick's Handmade Boots is now offering select boots in our Heritage Boots line in British Tan, a light brown Chromexcel leather. Available models include the Falcon, the Officer Boot, and the Americana boot. 

Like to see more Nick's Handmade Boots offered with Chromexcel leather? Let us know!