When Detroit-based brand Shinola decided to open up a store in Chicago, it was less like mindless expansion and more like finding a home away from home. Shinola is known for their made-in-America watches, bicycles, and leather goods, along with their commitment to careful manufacturing and appreciation of long-lasting quality.
In November, Chicago’s first Shinola store will open at 1619 N. Damen Avenue. This isn’t their first expansion: They’ve got flagship stores in Detroit and New York, a new store in Minneapolis, and upcoming openings in London and Los Angeles. But this opening is particularly special. “Opening a store in an area whose history is steeped in manufacturing makes this location that much more exciting,” says CEO Steve Bock.
Creative Director Daniel Caudill says that the brand was drawn to Damen because of the high-line bike path being built there, as it’s “great for the Shinola bikes.” Caudill also appreciates that the neighborhood “used to be a center of manufacturing in Chicago—it’s a great place for our brand, based on the legacy of that neighborhood.”
This isn’t the first connection between Shinola and Chicago manufacturing; the brand has been sourcing leather from the Horween Leather Company since Shinola started in 2011. Horween is Chicago’s last existing tannery, and it’s been a family-run operation since 1905; it’s also located minutes away from the new Shinola store. Shinola’s opening may even signify a minor revival of old-fashioned Chicago manufacturing, since Caudill says they’re “working with a few different makers and Chicago-based companies for future product.” American craftsmanship may not be king anymore, but it’s certainly not over.
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