With American consumer trends swinging wildly towards valuing artisanal and craft products, it’s opening the flood gates for re-inventing the notion of manufacturing in the United States. In San Francisco for example, the organization SFMade reports that 350 companies are part of it’s light manufacturing sector (producing everything from messenger bags to coffee to electric motorcycles) which in turn translates to 3,500 jobs. Kind of a big deal. What if this kind of manufacturing rebirth were to be realized in Detroit?
Enter Shinola– “You don’t know shit from Shinola!”– yes, that Shinola. The brain behind Fossil watches along with a Dallas-based investment group has acquired the brand and will be re-positiong the name to produce watches, leather goods and bicycles right here in Detroit. Why Detroit? Space is a bit cheaper than the rest of the country, but perhaps more importantly, they were able to tap in to the fountain of capability coming out of the College for Creative Studies– Detroit’s famed design institution– by locating their offices on the campus of the College. Kind of a genius move.
One look at the products, and there is reason to get excited:
At Shinola, the goal is to make a product as beautiful as it is functional, with a passion for sourcing components in the United States (like Horween Leather, craft producers based in Chicago) and taking care of the manufacturing and assembly right here in Detroit. The company is employing locals and CCS students alike in all aspects of the manufacturing process. Seen here, the assembly of watches in the Taubman Center:
Distribution will be through specialty stores, jewelry stores, and better department stores, as well as online at Shinola.com. In addition, two bricks and mortar locations are planned for Midtown locally and TriBeca in NYC. Think about this though– what will the overall effect be of a proud new Shinola bicycle owner in New York City riding away with a chain guard that clearly reads “Built in Detroit.” It could be more impactful than you may think, especially considering the national excitement after the “Imported from Detroit” Chrysler ads Chrysler ads. With Shinola entering the market soon, it’ll be interesting to see if their actions encourage other companies to make Detroit their base camp in an effort to meet growing demand for thoughtfully designed, beautiful and well-made domestic consumer goods. Let’s hope so.