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Shinola: From Shoe Polish to a Luxury Brand

June 23, 2015

Founded as a shoe polish maker company in Rochester, NY, Shinola wasn’t recognized as a household name until WWII, when a GI was disgruntled about the show polish he used for his commander’s boots – saying he “wouldn’t know shit from Shinola”. Well. That has drastically changed people’s perceptions of the luxury brand, for the better. The brand has done a consistent job of getting their name out to their consumer base, since about four years ago. Luxury products that are available are anywhere from wristwatches to leather items, to bikes and more.

Shinola prides themselves on delivering a classic and modern look – while driving home that their home base is in Detroit, “the buckle of the American rust belt”. They are opening up 16 retail stores around the United States, with a plan to open up a dozen more each year after.


Diversifying categories continuing to surprise their customers and clientele is what they’re after – wanting to be different in the marketplace. Manufacturing in America is a symbol of legacy, and Shinola is dedicating their brand to bring the return of U.S manufacturing. As their home base being in Detroit, the luxury brand has become an icon for entrepreneurism and has built a central role in the city’s renaissance.


Honing in on patriotism – Americans love items that are made from America, which gives them a sense of pride. Majority of luxury brands are not American based, which makes Shinola one of a kind. Moreover, the industrial style spaces that are home to these stores are small, but provide a warm feeling with the brick walls and hard wood floors.


Creating and designing luxury item pieces that will not go out of style is the name of the game for Shinola. Our goal as designers is to create products for consumers, who will continue to purchase and use the items that they love. The fact that Shinola is manufacturing their products in the U.S provides them with credibility and their image to the American consumer. We recently just wrote a piece on U.S manufacturing that you can find here. To read more on this article, please click here.

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