By now you have surely seen the advertisements, either in the NY Times or in a myriad of lifestyle magazines. If for some reason you have not, welcome to the world of Shinola. A resurrection of the old shoe polish brand (known colloquially in the Midwest from the old military saying of “you don’t know $h&t from Shinola”), this new iteration specializes in mechanical goods, bicycles, leather goods and watches, all under the auspice of “Made in Detroit”.
After some field studies by the holding company in charge of the Shinola name, whose governing board has close affiliations with the Fossil watch company, the idea of a “Made in America” luxury brand was born, with a struggling city, albeit one with a rich manufacturing heritage, as its nexus.
There is a Detroit outpost, for posterity sake, but the Flagship opened in Tribeca in the fall, at Franklin Street between Hudson and Greenwich Streets, a high design and subsequently high rent district for spaces such as this. High ceilings dominate the space, its open and airy, with a cafe occupying the front of the store. Deeper into the building you will find the “showroom” featuring bikes, a smattering of leather goods, specifically those relating to electronics, writing journals, odds and ends such as shoe polish and finally the timepieces.
Borrowing (sometimes heavily) from other design-centric watch manufacturers, Shinola has quickly carved out an interesting niche in the market. High end styles and design at a mid-range price point ($500 - $750) with offerings for both men and women, with a frequent reliance on American made leathers (including those from the world famous Horween Leather Company out of Chicago). The brand imported a knowledge base and in some instances actual Swiss watchmakers, who relocated to the brand headquarters in Detroit and have since taught their trade (or at least parts of it) to local laborers and factory workers, who help finish the products here in America. Each watch then contains an etched metallic placard indicating who “built” the timepiece in Detroit.
This is coupled with a new and updated lightning bolt logo featuring a black, orange and white color scheme. It is fair to say that this brand was well thought out, from the backstory, to the products to the showroom floor.
So make a trip, whether or not you are in the area or have some time to burn. The store is definitely worth the visit, if only to admire the European influence in everything from the store design to the products themselves. Good to see something with a “Made in America” marking that can live comfortably in this design space.
Visit the flagship store in Tribeca:
Shinola - Flagship
177 Franklin Street
New York, NY