The news out of Detroit is generally half and half. Half good and half rotten, tipping generally to the rotten side. The city declares bankruptcy. But artists move there for cheap real estate and parts of the city have returned to pastoral wilderness. Corruption looms large, but the auto industry makes tentative baby steps to solvency. The Tigers had a reasonably good season. And so did the cars, though they require ever fewer people to assemble them. But Detroit has some brand new homegrown industry. Enter Shinola, as in the shoe polish you don’t know what from. Only now Shinola has been remade into a luxury goods company specializing in Detroit manufactured bicycles and watches (watch innards only are Swiss imported). Begun as part of the Center for Creative Studies, the school that spits out some of the most talented designers in the country, Shinola opened its doors in 2011 in the historic Art Deco Argonaut building (once the General Motors Research Laboratory) in downtown Detroit.
In addition to its Detroit HQ, Shinola recently opened a flagship branch in New York’s Tribeca, filled floor to ceiling with their leather journals, bicycles and watches, and handmade goods from fellow Detroit brands like Hillside (furniture), Detroit Denim (clothing), and Local Portion (ceramics). There’s also an in-store café called The Smile, so you can sip an espresso while you wait for one of the stylish young salesfolk to stamp your initials on the back of your leather iPhone case. The watches are big and handsome and also available from Barneys in case you were wondering about their cool factor. The country roots for Detroit and good news from the American manufacturing front. If you think it’s all gloom coming out of the Motor City, you don’t know Shinola. // Bethany Ball