Set up in 2011 in the former manufacturing powerhouse of Detroit, a city scarred by race riots and the collapse of the motor industry in the 1960s, all American lifestyle brand Shinola has struck a chord with post-recession America. After becoming the first company in decades to produce watches at scale in America, the brand quickly diversified adding Detroit-made bicycles, leather goods, journals, and pet accessories to its impressive product base.
Fueled by venture capital firm Dallas-based Bedrock Manufacturing, which is backed by Tom Kartsotis, founder of accessory firm Fossil Inc., Shinola is rapidly expanding. Just over a year ago, the brand opened its first store outside of the US in London’s Soho; seven new stores across the States followed and Shinola’s popular e-commerce platform expanded its reach to 14 European countries in the same year.
Given its level of success, it’s perhaps not surprising that the Detroit brand has already outgrown its Newburgh Street location in London and have just upgraded to a new larger premises just around the corner on Foubert’s Place.
At 750 sq ft, the new showroom is twice the size of Shinola’s former London home and is the brand’s only outpost outside of the US. Just like its other 12 stores, Foubert’s Place is designed to reference its surrounding neighborhood, ‘which is really important,’ explains Shinola’s creative director Daniel Caudill. ‘In London we’ve kept the space itself as simple as we can. The building is really beautiful, so we didn’t want to put too much on it, we just wanted to keep it really clean. We did, however, add a Shinola clock, which looks like a giant pocket watch – it’s based off of our classic Runwell watch design.’
Designed to be flexible, the store will accommodate in-store events, talks and demonstrations as well as the brand’s growing product catalogue, including its new line of mens accessories by designers Richard Lambertson and John Truex, which was launched earlier this year, as well as an accompanying women’s collection due to arrive in 2016.
‘The stores are about telling the story of the brand and getting people to understand what we’re about,’ says Caudill. 'They were never meant to be volume drivers or high pressure sales environments, they were about giving people that Shinola experience; showing them that the brand is inclusive and its warm; inviting them in to just come and hang out.’