Detroit has had a rough go of things for a while. Between the auto industry's hit, a destitute real estate market and the Lions underperforming (in spite of having Megatron), it hasn't exactly been their decade. But a new company called Shinola is trying to bring back some of the manufacturing pride to Motor City. For the last two years, they've been building the facilities and the workforce to start producing world class products in Detroit.
The brand is based in the city's College for Creative Studies, which was originally built by General Motors in the 1920s and became the center of design for the American auto industry. After GM moved to new facilities, Watch, $550 (currently backordered)the building eventually transitioned to a college with select design-minded companies also locating to the campus. Shinola's first order of business within their new HQ was to develop the infrastructure to produce their marquee product: a handsomely rugged watch that's hand-assembled from nearly four-dozen Swiss made parts. To do so, they took 30,000 square feet of the school and shaped it into a state-of-the-art factory. They then partnered with a well-known watch movement maker, Ronda AG, to train local craftspeople in the precise art of watch making. Their first watch, The Runwell, which was limited to 1,500 pieces has already sold out.
In addition to watches, Shinola is driving American manufacturing on a number of fronts. They're crafting fine notebooks in Ann Arbor and using leather from Chicago's famed Horween for a line of bags and wallets. They're assembling high-end porteur and cruising bicycles in their Detroit headquarters, built on frames welded by hand in Waterford, Wisconsin. WIth all that, we'd say they're putting some very strong actions behind their words of wanting to rebuild American manufacturing.