A cordwainer (or cordovan) is somebody who makes shoes and other articles from fine soft leather. The word is derived from "cordwain", or "cordovan", the leather produced in Córdoba, Spain. Historically, there was a distinction between a cordwainer, who made shoes, and a cobbler, who repaired them. However, this distinction gradually weakened, particularly during the twentieth century, with the predominance of shoe retailers who neither made nor repaired the shoes themselves.
In London, the occupation of cordwainers was historically controlled by the Worshipful Company of Cordwainers. There is a Cordwainer ward of the City of London, which is historically where most cordwainers lived and worked.
Until 2000, there had been a Cordwainer's Technical College in London. For over 100 years the college was recognised as one of the world's leading colleges for training cobblers and leather workers. The college produced some of the Worlds leading fashion designers, specialising in shoes. Cordwainer's college was absorbed into the London College of Fashion in 2000, however the shoe design and accessories departments are still titled "Cordwainer's at London College of Fashion"