Isadore Horween, who had learned the leather business in his native Ukraine, immigrated to the United States in 1893. He obtained his first job at a tannery in the U.S. through a contact he made at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. For 12 years he worked in one of the then-two-dozen tanneries in Chicago.
He founded I. Horween and Co. in 1905, and established it on Division Street in Chicago. At the time, Chicago was a major center of the meatpacking industry and a major rail hub. The tanneries were built close to the source of raw materials. In 1911, Isadore Horween developed and produced Analine Chromexcel, one of the company's most traditional tannages and a leather that we use quite often
In 1938, Horween Leather Company became the official leather supplier for U.S. Marine Corps. water-resistant footwear during World War II. It supplied Chromoexcel, which was used exclusively in the North African Campaign. The company is now run by the fourth generation, with the fifth generation also in house.
Early mariners noticed that wet sails were more efficient than dry sails, but due to their weight slowed the vessel down. From the 15th century, mariners applied fish oils and grease to their heavy sailcloth. Out of the worn remnants of the sailcloth they cut waterproof capes to keep themselves dry, the forerunner of the fisherman's slicker. This was the beginning of waxed canvas' illustrious career as a sturdy water wicking fabric. The result was efficient sails in dry weather, lighter sails in wet weather, and drier sailors throughout. From 1795, Arbroath-based sail maker Francis Webster Ltd had perfected the art of adding linseed oils to flax sails, creating an oiled flax. Lighter than wet sailcloth, these started to be used by the Royal Navy and the early tea clippers.