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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.

We have a few thoughts about all this...»

The Kempt Five

  • Kempt Staff

Kempt Five

Every Wednesday from here on out, we’re giving you a piece of our minds. Actually, more like five pieces. It’s a chance to get a deeper look into what makes our editors and writers tick—beyond the Internet handsomeness we’re serving up daily. Whether it’s a mind-bending gallery show, a novel we’ve been reading, an album drop or even just a damn fine pair of pants we’ve been wearing the hell out of, we think you ought to know about it. Welcome to our newest, and most personal, weekly feature: The Kempt Five.

Without further ado: here’s what’s on our minds this week.»

Detroit’s Shinola, Ending the Need for Bras and the Masters’ Pimento-Gate

  • Kempt Staff

esq warby parker

Shine On: Valet has word of a new enterprise in Detroit hell-bent on reviving American manufacturing of everything from bicycles to watches. (Cars can’t be far behind.)

Bra Burning: 15 years of research suggests there’s no benefit to be gained by wearing a bra, according to this groundbreaking scientific study from France (but of course).

Good Eye: Esquire gets a sneak peek at the slick new brick-and-mortar of bespectacled do-gooders Warby Parker. S’wicheroo: The biggest disappointment at this weekend’s Masters didn’t happen on the course, but in the clubhouse: it would seem the traditional pimento cheese sandwich had been corrupted.

The Stat Sheet: A.P.C. x Carhartt Gabrielle Jacket

  • Najib Benouar

Just in at Très Bien Shop is the latest batch of goods from the collaboration between the French selvage-denim-heads at A.P.C. and Detroit’s workwear mainstays, Carhartt—as far as sturdy duck canvas goes, nobody does it better than them. So, naturally, our favorite was the update on the chore coat (translation: it’s cut trimmer than the ones you’ll find in a surplus shop), the A.P.C. x Carhartt Gabrielle Jacket.

Here’s what you need to know about it.»

Motor City Madness


It looks like John Varvatos will be getting a bit more rock cred in the form of his very own radio show, kicking off this evening with a live show from the New York Dolls’ record release party in his Bowery shop.

Of course, we’ll have to wait to see what his picks are like, but indications so far are that the show will focus on Detroit bands and fellow travelers, which makes us pretty damn excited. From Smokey Robinson to Juan Atkins, the city’s done more for American music than anywhere else we could name—we’re looking at you, Memphis—so it’s nice to have someone on the airwaves spreading the gospel. Even if we get the feeling he’ll be sticking to the earlier end of the spectrum.

Rose, Fleece, and a Few Good Logos


By Any Other Name: Rose Byrne thrills us with her knowledge of New York nightlife. [BlackBook]

The Fleecing of America: Black Fleece prices seem to be declining along with the Dow…but it doesn’t seem to ever go on sale. [The Life Vicarious]

Decline and Fall: A photoset proving Detroit is every bit as bad as you think. [Time]

Graphic Design We Can Believe In: The Obama graphic design team’s greatest hits. Apparently they’re averaging a logo a week. [The Moment]

Showing Muscle


The early 70s were a magical time, as all those Starsky & Hutch reruns can attest. And while the clothes, hairstyles, air quality, political leadership, and standards of hygiene may be a bit embarrassing in retrospect, there’s one thing that never disappoints: the cars.

Luckily, we’ll have a place to admire them all. Punta Gorda, FL is now the site of the confusingly named Muscle Car City Museum, with more than 200 muscle cars kept in spectacular working order. It’s a fascinating window into Detroit’s last great generation of automobiles, along with a decade worth of design innovations for anyone paying attention.

And we imagine they can drive pretty fast too.

High Concept


Lately, we’ve been worried that the looming collapse of the auto industry might provoke some kind of belt-tightening—maybe even cut back on some of those pipe dreams that could never possibly be produced. But what would we do without our precious concept cars?

Well, there are still a few of them kicking around. This Cadillac model is called the World Thorium Fuel concept (aptly referred to as “WTF”) and it’s designed to run for a full century without maintenance…besides adjusting the tires every few years. There’s a nuclear reactor in the back to keep fuel going, and every major system is redundant, so it should be the best car in the world long after we’re all in Mad Max territory—if it ever gets built, that is.

Until then, we’ll just have to make do with non-nuclear cars.

See more of the WTF»



You’re looking at the Splinter, the brainchild of a team of NC State students. The goal was to make a sports car made almost entirely of wood, including the suspension and wheel wells, and by the looks of things, they’re pretty close to having a supercar on their hands.

We aren’t sure how it drives, but it’s a lot lighter, cheaper, and generally cooler looking than what Detroit’s turning out these days. The creator, Joe Harmon, says he has no interest in selling the cars, but we’re sure he could be persuaded if enough loudmouth bloggers got together.

In the meantime, someone get this man a bucket of VC money.

See Harmon in action»