Fashion Friday: Shinola Watches
In 2013, 'American manufacturing' is kind of an oxymoron. But a backlash is clearly in the works; many brands and labels have been making the conscious decision to focus on producing locally and bringing back large scale production. Among those is entrepreneur Tom Kartsotis who decided to create a watch company from scratch, recycling the brand name Shinola from a defunct wax-based shoe polish company (1907-1960). Kartosis was not about to let the fact that watch-making is a lost art in the United States--Hamilton was the last extant company and that was bought out by a Swiss partner in 1971--cramp his vision. These days, most watches are assembled in Switzerland and Asia so the attempt to make them in the states--let alone the recently-bankrupted Detroit--represented both a true revival and a serious challenge. But Kartosis made it happen; drawing on the local pool of skilled workers and bringing in Swiss experts to train them. Shinola opened their watchworks in the historic Argonaut Building, inside the College for Creative Studies known as the A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education--where General Motors invented the hydraulic automatic transmission and countless other innovations--even as Detroit's traditional manufacturers were mostly shuttering their plants and transferring operations to Mexico.
Two years later Shinola expects to produce 45 000 watches a year and up to 500, 000 by 2014 or 2015. They've also branched into bicycles, journals and leather goods, all produced at the same shop in Detroit. They have stores in New York and Detroit and just opened a pop-up on the Country Club Plaza. You can find Shinola watches at Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales, Barney's, Saks, Nordstrom with an average price of 600$ per piece. Next year, they'll do a limited edition for the launch of the 50th anniversary Ford Mustang. Get a look at the Shinola team and browse some of their neo-classic styles in the gallery at top and find more here. Fashion tip: the "Runwell" with the black band goes great with your 'Detroit Vs. Everybody' hoodie.