Detroit-based Shinola is taking the reins on telling its own story at retail.

This story first appeared in the December 8, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The company is set to open as many as six stores in the U.S. next year, including one in Chicago as early as January.

That comes on the heels of the company opening its first West Coast store — in November in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles — and its first international location, in London, bringing its total in operation to six.

“We love going to locations that are what we would call a destination — so very much a non-traditional approach because we see the brand as a non-traditional approach to building a business,” chief executive officer Steve Bock told WWD.

Last month, the company opened its watch-dial factory at the site of its Detroit store, giving visitors a peek into the process. Production is expected to begin there at the start of next year.

Shinola, which was founded in 2011 with four employees, now counts about 335 workers and expects around $60 million in sales this year. The majority of its revenue comes from its stores and e-commerce site, with a wholesale business tightly focused on retailers such as Net-a-porter internationally, Holt Renfrew in Canada and Colette in France.

Bock declined to provide a specific growth target on the company’s future retail plans but said it’s a key component of the brand’s overall evolution, adding, “The strength of what we’re seeing in our retail stores and on our Web site is enormous.”

It’s a balancing act, he said.

“Wholesale is very important to us,” Bock said. “We’re in very narrow distribution, and the key is to keep distribution narrow. What our stores allow us to do — very importantly — and what our Web site allows us to do is, really, represent the brand in its entirety, and that’s a very important facet of the future of the brand.”

The company recently brought on design directors Richard Lambertson and John Truex in a bid to build out the leather goods business, and Bock sees a long runway for category expansion, with new ones coming up in the “not too distant future.

“We don’t see any need to be limited in terms of category breadth,” he said. “We think there’s great ability to develop new categories under the umbrella of Shinola.”

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