Shinola Puts a New Sheen on Motown

Detroit has churned out plenty of classics in its day: the
’57 Chevy, the Motown sound, the winged-wheel logo of the Detroit Red Wings. Shinola hopes to add a few items to that

With an ethos of fine design and superior craftsmanship,
Shinola is launching a line of watches, bicycles, journals and leather goods –
made in Detroit by American workers, virtually all of them local residents
rigorously trained for the exacting demands of their jobs.


The Skinny:

The company also plans to launch two flagship retail stores:
one in Midtown, Detroit, set to open June 27, and a Tribeca location coming
this summer. Like Shinola products, the stores aim to combine modern design with
warmth and accessibility. The Detroit store will include space for bike
assembly, an international newsstand, and sales of Drought organic juice, which
is produced by another local start-up company.

“We’re making them simple, bringing a clear warmth,” said
Daniel Caudill, Shinola’s creative director. “Warm wood, warm colors, lots of
light, comfortable seating. We’re creating a space where people not only want
to shop, they want to hang out. It will be a flex space: we can use it to hold
design talks, art installations, events.

“It’s the humanity that makes it modern,” Caudill said.
“People are becoming disconnected because of the Internet. People want that
connection again.”

That sums up the Shinola design philosophy: modern, but

“Something that’s modern or based in a minimalist idea can
also be warm, inviting and comfortable,” Caudill said. “Clean lines and simple
design can also be approachable. It doesn’t have to be cold or austere.”

One example of bringing that idea to life in the products: Shinola
is making a limited run of leather watch straps from an old baseball glove
Caudill found.

Shinola watches will be distributed in about 50 specialty
jewelry stores and a handful of better department stores, such as Neiman-Marcus
and Barney’s. Shinola bikes will be sold through a small number of selected
specialty bike shops, including One on
One Bicycle Shop
in Minneapolis.