You Don’t Know Shit From Shinola

Bedrock Manufacturing, an upstart company from Detroit, is attempting to reinvent Shinola, one of America’s most famous heritage brands.

The brand revival started last year, when Bedrock set out to create a new line of high-end leather accessories. From the start, the venture was not only about the products themselves but where they would be produced: Here at home, in the U.S. In Bedrock’s eyes, the new company would be a throwback to a time when goods were built to last, when customers weighed price points with quality, and, most importantly, when those customers had an interest in who was building the products–and where.

It would be a company steeped in the values of an older era, and the founding team wanted a name to match. “We didn’t want to try to invent a name that had heritage and pretend there was history behind it,” COO Heath Carr says, so they looked for inactive brands that were on the market. They eventually came across Shinola, along with the “ever-so-famous saying that comes with the name,” Carr says.

Next came finding a new home. After looking at a number of cities, the team decided to establish the company in Detroit, the former manufacturing powerhouse and something of an American throwback itself. It’s a tidy fit that, like the Shinola name, Detroit too is in the early stages of a 21st-century reinvention.

Shinola, by the way, was a mid-century shoe polish. I sincerely hope the company uses the famous expression associated with the brand as the company call to arms. This time around, Shinola will focus on making American-made watches, bicycles, and leather goods.

The Shinola story is great in and of itself, but it’s also an interesting slice of a larger story about the reinvention and comeback of American manufacturing and the slow fade of disposable goods. It’s something I’ve been kind of tracking here and there and wish I had a tag for those posts that I could pull together into that larger story. *Sigh*

Shinola products will be available for purchase beginning in February 2013.

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