Though the north loop’s business boom is no longer news, the ever-opening shops have yet to lose their novel appeal. New retailers are arriving as fast as fashionistas can strut down the neighborhood’s concrete runways.
In contrast to the pristine, polished showrooms found at 50th & France or the hip, youthful shops that open regularly in Uptown, the boutiques in the North Loop are less trendy, seemingly drawn there by forces of history and a notion of heritage in keeping with the neighborhood’s crumbling brick walls and history as an industrial district.
Photo by A. Steinberg/Sidecar
It was a natural fit for sister companies Shinola and Filson, which focus on American-made products, from classic watches to rugged clothing. Both brands are owned by a business-development firm that specializes in building companies with strong storylines behind them. For Shinola, it starts with the name (of an early-20th-century shoeshine polish company) and extends to the Detroit factory where the brand’s signature watches and bicycles are assembled, bringing jobs back to a city in economic decline. At Filson, the narrative stretches back to the late 1800s, when C.C. Filson began outfitting gold rush pioneers in tough, comfortable clothing. Today’s iterations of Filson’s original pieces are more gentrified: slimmer-cut flannel shirts, pocket-packed outerwear, and luggage pieces crafted from rough-and-tumble canvas that can withstand a few bumps and still look smart.
Although they have separate entrances and identities, Shinola and Filson are in adjacent, connected spaces—convenient for the inevitable overlap as shoppers weave together the two stories.