CLOCK­WORK

Get­ting to know what makes Shi­nola tick.

Elle (Canada) - - Style - BY LISA GUI­MOND

i’m stand­ing on a fac­tory floor spy­ing over a worker’s shoul­der as he metic­u­lously places num­bers on a watch face. He is so still, and the as­sem­bly floor is so quiet, that I slow my breath­ing to match his so I don’t in­ter­fere. Sud­denly, like a clap of thun­der, Fred Flint­stone’s voice bursts through the in­ter­com: “Yabba dabba doo!” I laugh as work­ers start fil­ing out for the day. As far as fac­to­ries go, this one’s pretty cool.

Shi­nola, maker of watches, bikes and leather goods, launched in Detroit in 2011 to cre­ate jobs in a city that was on the cusp of an im­por­tant and much-needed re­ju­ve­na­tion. Since it started turn­ing out its first watches, the com­pany has done more than add 500 jobs to an ail­ing econ­omy; it has in­sisted on do­ing things its own way. “Build­ing a watch fac­tory in the United States at scale doesn’t make sense,” ex­plains Daniel Caudill, Shi­nola’s creative di­rec­tor. De­spite the higher costs to train a team to as­sem­ble watches in North Amer­ica (rather than, say, Asia), the com­pany main­tains an op­ti­mistic phi­los­o­phy: Keep as much of the process as pos­si­ble in-house. While cer­tain com­po­nents, like the move­ment and watch hands, are im­ported, the time­pieces are as­sem­bled by hand; leather ac­ces­sories are de­signed in the same Detroit work­shop that turns out sam­ples, and some smaller leather goods, like a gor­geous en­ve­lope-shaped cross-body bag, are also pro­duced there. The small team that started it all has also re­mained con­stant: Six of the orig­i­nal 10 as­sem­bly work­ers are still with the com­pany; some have new roles as su­per­vi­sors and team lead­ers.

While a tour of the fac­tory re­veals a lot about the com­pany’s op­ti­mistic ap­proach, its re­tail stores—in­clud­ing its first Cana­dian out­post, which opened in Toronto this sum­mer—keep that buzz go­ing. While you can shop for all of the brand’s star prod­ucts—like its cus­tom­iz­a­ble watches, su­per-slick bikes made on-site and luxe leather ac­ces­sories—at the Detroit flag­ship, you can also set­tle in at the house cof­fee shop for a pour-over or plug in to an­swer emails while you have lunch. There’s even a popup space where lo­cal en­trepreneurs are in­vited to sell their wares. (When I vis­ited, there was a florist sell­ing su­per­chic cacti.) “Some­times I’ll come mul­ti­ple times a day,” ad­mits Caudill, who has helped shape the vi­sion for the re­tail ex­pe­ri­ence, which em­pha­sizes a sense of com­mu­nity above any­thing else. It’s a wel­com­ing space that makes you feel as if you’ve ar­rived home af­ter a long trip. The Toronto store may not serve per­fectly brewed iced tea or pressed sand­wiches, but it does have a set of over­sized leather loungers that make you want to sink in and stick around for a while. n

Coat, top and trousers (Kenzo x H&M), bra (Carine Gil­son), tights (Wol­ford), ear­rings (Ara Var­ta­nian), rings (Dior), ring (Jules Smith), ring (Ja­nis Savitt), ring (Spinelli Kil­collin), neck­lace (Tif­fany & Co.) and shoes (Jimmy Choo)

Leather shop­per ($745), bi­cy­cle ($3,695), leather cross-body ($495), and stain­less-steel and leather watch ($720). All at shi­nola.com.

A worker as­sem­bles a Shi­nola watch. Above: A look at the Toronto store at Queen and Oss­ing­ton

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