At this point, we all know Shinola very well. The watch/bike/leather goods/stationery brand based out of Detroit has effectively made their brand of US made goods and their message widely known. Their products have only recently started to ship, but it feels like they have already been around for a long time. With their new flagship store in NYC, this feeling is clearly something they are trying to cultivate. They aren’t just a brand of American made goods, they are a purveyor of the idea of American made.
Sitting quietly at 177 Franklin street in Tribeca, the Shinola store is not imposing from the outside. In fact, from the street it looks more like a quaint, hip coffee bar for those in the know. This is intentional. The front portion of the store is an espresso and magazine bar run by The Smile, whose larger sister restaurant on Bond is known as much as a celebrity haunt as a decent place to get a bite. Shinola didn’t want to just make a store, they wanted to make a place where people would come and hangout.
Once through this fragrant corridor, you are welcomed to the main room that while small in terms of floor space, is grand, airy and full of light. Inspired by Donald Judd’s library in Marfa, Texas, the fixture and display design is minimal and elegant. The environment is rich with texture and color, though everything is earthy and industrial. Wooden tables, glass boxes, white brick, dark metal and the scent of leather create an aesthetic that speaks to industrial America and the act of manufacturing. Perhaps a nod to their intentions and most certainly a remarkable bit of décor, on the wall is a giant steel map of the world that originally hung in the offices of an oil company.
The objects and products in the shop are arranged in a way to create an experience of color and material rather than just a fast transaction. Central tables are a controlled chaos of watches, leather goods, random metal crafts, and little trinkets. While the walls have bags, bikes, accessories, books and more. It feels more like the booth of an eclectic collector of Americana at a flea market than a showroom in Manhattan. You feel like you can search for and discover something unique, rather than be force-fed simply what is new. That said the Shinola products are given the spotlight with some clever placement and interesting display ideas. My favorite being a magnifying glass suspended in front of the case back to emphasize the detail.
All in all, a very enjoyable and different retail experience. One thing that I really liked seeing was the inclusion of other American-made brands, ranging from large to small. On one hand you had Filson briefcases and on the other you had bottle openers by NYC’s Fort Standard (which were particularly awesome), which is an up and coming design house. There was also a selection of vintage watches for sale, which was surprising, but fit in well with the feeling of the store. So, if you are in NYC and happen to be in Tribeca, be sure to stop in, grab a latte and enjoy some well-curated American cool.
See gallery below for more pics
by Zach Weiss