A cordwainer (or cordovan) is a shoemaker/cobbler (a shoe repairer) who makes fine soft leather shoes and other luxury footwear articles. The word is derived from "cordwain", or "cordovan", the leather produced in Córdoba, Spain. The term cordwainer was used as early as 1100 in England. Historically, there was a distinction between a cordwainer, who made luxury shoes and boots out of the finest leathers, and a cobbler, who repaired them. This distinction gradually weakened, particularly during the twentieth century, when there was a predominance of shoe retailers who neither made nor repaired shoes.
In London, the occupation of cordwainers was historically controlled by the guild of the Worshipful Company of Cordwainers. There is a ward in the City of London named Cordwainer which is historically where most cordwainers lived and worked.
Until 2000, there had been a Cordwainers' Technical College in London. For over a hundred years the college had been recognised as one of the world's leading establishments for training shoemakers and leather workers. The college produced some of the leading fashion designers such as Jimmy Choo and Patrick Cox. Cordwainers' College was absorbed into the London College of Fashion in 2000. The shoe design and accessories departments are still titled "Cordwainer's at London College of Fashion".
Cordwainers in America 
Cordwainers were among those who sailed to Virginia in 1610 to settle in Jamestown. By 1616 it was recorded by the secretary of Virginia that the leather and shoe trades were flourishing. Christopher Nelme, of England, is the name of the earliest recorded shoemaker in America. He sailed to Virginia from Bristol, England in 1619.
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