What we love…
- Incase you haven't' heard Detroit isn't in the best state since the economic downturn—in fact Anthony Bourdain recently compared the cities decay to Chernobyl. Enter Shinola, a brand that intends to do their part to revitalize American manufacturing in Detroit, one watch at a time. What does Detroit have to do with New York you ask? Well Shinola, just opened a flagship store in New York's Tribeca neighborhood, that acts as a retail space and glorious showroom for their American made products.
- Shinola is actually a re-launch of a popular wax-based shoe polish brand from the early 1900's. The phrase "You don't know shit from Shinola" referenced the shoes polish, and was often heard during World War ll. In the 70's the original brand went out of business but in 2011 Steve Bock (the founder of Fossile), purchased the rights to the name with the intent to revive the brand and bring American manufacturing back to Detroit. Although you will find shoe polish amongst the other luxe items at the Shinola today, the revival of the brand has more to do with watchmaking than polish. Shinola today mainly focuses on creating luxury watches—which makes sense considering the knowledge and history Fossile has in the watch business.
- Shinola watches sell for about $600, but are valued at around 3-4 times that price. The quality parts are all made in Switzerland while the final product is assembled with leather straps in Detroit. The Detroit factory largely consists of ex-auto trade workers, who've been re-trained in the intricate craft of watchmaking. This obviously not only creates American jobs, but also brings craftsmanship back to a city in need of a little love at the moment. Is this all part of an elaborate built-in marketing scheme? Maybe a little. Does that really matter? Well, that's up to you. Our opinion: anytime you can introduce a craft to someone who's lively hood has been taken away, you're doing a good thing.
- Watches and shoe polish aren't the only products Shinola carries. There's a wide range of artisanal leather goods such as bags and wallets, sewn in Missouri from leather produced in Chicago. There's also Michigan-made journals and notebooks, and luxury bicycles for both men and women with parts handcrafted in Wisconsin, and assembled in Detroit. Lock up your new bike with gorgeous leather covered bike locks created in North Carolina. Care for your leather with saddle soaps, wooden brushes, and yes, shoe polish, all in decorative tins and bottles that reference the original brands packaging. All the products we came across were well-made, from high quality materials, and most of all beautiful. It's easy to see why Shinola has become popular with people looking to support the 'Made in America' movement, and why the New York flagship can hardly keep their shelves stocked.