Shinola takes its name from the famous shoe polish company that began in 1907, popularized by the saying, “You don’t know sh*t from Shinola.” Like many American heritage companies negatively affected by the outsourcing of domestic industry, the original Shinola-Bixby corporation faded out in the 1970’s. The brand as we know it today was reimagined in 2011 with the intent of reinvigorating manufacturing in this country.
As the birthplace of American manufacturing, Detroit was the natural choice to house the cornerstone of their efforts – watch building. Shinola, in partnership with Ronda AG, one of the only remaining independently owned movement manufacturing companies left in Switzerland, is hand-building watch movements in the Argonaut Building in midtown Detroit (named the Argonite movement), representing the first at-scale watch assembly to ever take place in the city. Ronda AG has been manufacturing movements for nearly 70 years and they are known as the industry leaders of high accuracy quartz movements. Ronda provides Shinola’s factory team with intensive training, supplies the factory with state-of-the-art equipment and manufactures all of the individual components that comprise the Argonite movement.
Shinola is also crafting hand-built bicycles using hand-welded frames in partnership with Waterford Precision Cycles and leather goods sourced from Horween Leather, the oldest continuously working tannery in this country. Other partners in Shinola’s efforts include Eric Scott, master leather craftsmen, Edwards Brothers Malloy, family owned bookbindery charged with Shinola’s paper goods, and C.A. Zoes Manufacturing, commissioned with recreating the famous shoe polish.
Shinola is not just a brand. It’s a movement toward the future of this country, fueled by a community that takes pride in the beauty of industry and the glory of manufacturing.