Shinola is determined to grow its women’s business by getting glitzier — now experimenting with diamonds and introducing its first evening luxury collection for women.
The Gomelsky collection, which will be previewed today, includes three design families and a total of 31 styles — priced from $700 to $3,750. The entire lot is slated to hit stores in November.
With the release of the new women’s watch range also comes Pamela Love’s first jewelry designs for the Detroit-based brand. To accommodate the influx of feminine designs to its stores, Shinola has created new merchandising and packaging motifs for its women’s pieces — to sit side-by-side with its original men’s offerings.
“From the beginning, women’s has been a huge part of the brand. It felt like this has always been a very classic women’s brand, even though we started out in men’s. Women have always been part of the goal of how we will grow,” creative director Daniel Caudill told WWD.
The brand launched its first women’s design — the Birdie — in 2013. But it has not approached its women’s designs as a holistic offering until now.
For this new assortment, “We are not just taking men’s designs and tailoring them for women. The watches are very specific feminine watches, in conjunction with fine jewelry and our leather goods. From store interiors and across the board, we want to do everything — and do it the right way. This was the right time in our growth [to introduce more women’s styles],” Caudill said. The new women’s collection is more diminutive than Shinola’s prior designs — with delicate rectangular and circular faces, intended to evoke the art of old-world evening watches. Many of the watch faces are constructed of semiprecious stones, including tiger eye, lapis, malachite and mother-of-pearl. Straps come fabricated in bracelet or stamped leather form.
The aim is to boost sales of women’s watches up to the same level as men’s at the company. Presently men’s accounts for 60 percent of the brand’s watch business. “It’s a little hard [to measure] because a lot of women purchase men’s watches,” Caudill said of a gender breakdown.
Gold tone watches are plated in Asia, and are assembled at Shinola’s factory in Detroit. The brand will continue to refine its assembled in the U.S. messaging in light of June’s Federal Trade Commission investigation that dictated the label be more explicit when describing its manufacturing process.
For its first foray into fine women’s jewelry, Shinola creative partner Pamela Love was inspired by many of the design hallmarks of the brand’s watches. She has created a range of 55 sleek styles, including necklaces, lockets, earrings, bangles and rings, that look to the coined edge of Shinola dials and the buckles of its watch straps for design features.
The jewelry is priced from $120 to $8,000, and is crafted of sterling silver, 14-karat gold, opals, tiger eye, onyx, mother-of-pearl and diamonds that the brand said are conflict free and sourced in India. All the jewelry is designed in New York and manufactured in Los Angeles.
The Shinola collection is notably different from Love’s own Gothic, occult-leaning label. The clean designs recall classic mid-century American jewelry, with simple shapes, slim braided chains and a polished finish.
“I started my own company when I was 22 or something insane, so I’m growing up and maturing and skewing a little more classic,” Love said. “I’m really happy with the work we’ve done. Shinola is looking for really nice pieces that play with the idea of classic sophistication and that echo memories of a class ring or a father’s ID bracelet. I really think of these pieces as being passed down and not being a seasonal, trend-based collection. I think the customer is one who pays attention to where things are made and how they are made, and not purchasing throwaway fashion.”
Shinola said Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom have signed on as third-party stockists for the jewelry and Gomelsky watches. Each piece will be available for personalization with Shinola now offering machine engraving services, to be conducted in its Detroit headquarters.
For visual continuity, Shinola has created new merchandising, packaging and type font concepts for the women’s offerings. New stores, and some existing ones, have been retrofitted with women’s specific zones — boasting lighter fixtures, cream wall color and soft leather furniture. The concept will continue to expand across Shinola retail units — stocking Love’s jewelry and the new watch designs, as well as leather goods designed by Richard Lambertson and John Truex.
“Product is always the hero, but it’s not just about the product — it’s also about the environment,” Caudill said. “There is a feminine side and we are trying to portray that.”
A scratchy, more delicate looking type font will grace new boxes. “The new packaging for women is cream, linen and pale gray, where the men’s is wood with a lot of black. They sit really beautifully together, but they also are very different looking,” he said.
Caudill said Shinola has discussed opening separate men’s and women’s units but has no present plans to do so.