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Detroit, Shinola and Making No Little Plans

  • Geoff Rynex


“We believe in the beauty of industry. The glory of manufacturing. We know there’s not just history in Detroit. There’s a future.” —from the Shinola website

“Detroit may be bankrupt, but if Shinola is any indication—and I think it is—the story of America’s great city’s revival has already begun.” —David Hershkovits, Paper

“Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood.” —Daniel Burnham

As we speak, the David Whitney Building (a 1915 architectural treasure constructed by Burnham’s firm) is being converted into a downtown Detroit boutique hotel. And Shinola, a two-year-old Detroit watch- and bicycle-making outfit, is settling into its shiny new flagships in the Motor City and NYC.

Writers have seized hard on this operation and its Detroit angle. Paper, as you can see, is going all in on the amateur economics. And T Magazine, A Continuous Lean and GQ have all hinted that Shinola might be the start of big new things there. No little plans, indeed. For our part, we hope they’re right. But we’d humbly submit the following:

1) A request to keep it in check with regards to whether this marks the beginning of a miraculous recovery for the city of Detroit. While we applaud anything that brings decent jobs where they’re needed, we humble style bloggers aren’t in the business of parsing the complexities of large-scale urban renewal.

2) The Detroit angle is beside the point anyway, because we don’t need this narrative. Shinola isn’t required to save a city for us to appreciate this stuff.

Right, the stuff: as the great drum of progress beats on and the hyperbole floweth, let’s not lose sight of what we can say for sure—these are some damn good-looking watches, bikes and leather goods. Just take a look around the Tribeca outpost to see some of what they’re putting out:

strapsHorween watch straps.

lockandwatchThe Runwell 40mm watch (along with a leather-wrapped U-lock from Map of Days).

hillsideA pocket-square-shoeshine-rag collaboration with the Hill-side (who’ll also be featured in a Hickoree’s pop-up there later this week).

thebikeThe Runwell 11-speed in the yellowest “light orange” we’ve ever seen.

rollotopOne of the best-looking roll-top bags we’ve seen in a while (again with the Horween).

Well crafted. Attractive. And whimsical. All of it. Applause all around.