Shinola: Glory of bygone days


“We don’t think American manufacturing ever failed for being too good. Our worst didn’t come when we were at our best. It happened when we thought good was good enough”.

With this statement, an American legend returns: Shinola. However: The Detroit, MI, based company does not exactly go back to its roots — after all, Shinola used to be America’s most famous shoe polish. The new Shinola is far from being the old shoe polish brand. Its owners are working on a new, positive reputation for US craftsmanship. And they rely on the power of pictures: While the old, original Shinola company was based in New York, NY, its new home Detroit, MI, evokes powerful metaphors. It used to be “Motor City”, the hub of US auto production, back in the days. The epicenter of American productivity and ingenuity. Nowadays, Detroit is the city that got hit the hardest by the recent recession and the bursting real estate bubble. It looks like a ghost town in places, entire neighborhoods collapse, their houses empty and rotting away. But the legend of Motor City remains.

And that’s exactly what the new Shinola is counting on.

Shinola is America, bravely chugging along, believing in the power of dedication and guts:
“It’s a tall order to return to form, but we’re up for it. We’re starting with the reinvigoration of a storied American brand, and a storied American city. Because we believe in the beauty of industry. The glory of manufacturing”, it says on their homepage.

Shinola used to produce shoe polish. Nowadays, their products are more high-class: watches, leather goods, bicycles and stationery. All of them are tailored to the taste of urban hipsters. Catering to thirty-somethings who love retro looks and stylish understatement.

Their first watch model “Runwell” (beautiful name, if you ask me) is limited to 1,500 pieces. It’s powered by an argonite quartz 1069 movement. Sapphire glass and stainless steel. A leather strap. The Runwell looks retro, through and through.

“We know there’s not just history in Detroit, there is a future.”
Words to live by.

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