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Bruce Weber’s Shinola campaign shines fresh light on Detroit

It was 2006 when Bruce Weber last captured the city of Detroit, for a W magazine shoot featuring Kate Moss. Now, almost 10 years later, the distinguished fashion photographer and film-maker has returned to Motor City, this time to shoot a campaign for local brand Shinola.

Photographer Bruce Weber has created a series of images for Detroit-based company Shinola for their new hafshion campaign
Photograph: Bruce Weber

With US model Carolyn Murphy at its forefront, the campaign mainly focuses on local people, mirroring Shinola’s evolution as a company dedicated not only to homegrown manufacturing but also to the employment of local people. “Detroit
is such a rich place – it’s not what you hear on the news, people
are proud of it –
there’s a lot of optimism here,” says Daniel Caudill, Shinola’s creative director. “It’s really exciting to be able to experience it

Bruce Weber's Shinola campaign
Photograph: Bruce Weber

Best known for its watches, bikes and leather goods, Shinola began life in 1907 as a shoe polish company. It folded in 1960, and was revived in part by Fossil Inc’s Tom Kartsotis, whose Bedrock Manufacturing firm purchased the name Shinola with Ronda AG in 2011 and launched it as a watch brand. The company’s internal focus, both in terms of making their employees a part of their aesthetic and in making their shop floors feel like historical, craft-based environments, is as attractive to Shinola’s customer base as the leather wallets and handcrafted timepieces on sale there. Caudill underlines that American design is at the heart of this brand. “We
are inspired by the spirit of Detroit,” he explains, “but our approach to design, and
our ultimate goal, is to make product that feels modern and
quintessentially American.”

Shinola approached Weber to build a campaign that recruited the people of Detroit. “In
our first brand campaign, we introduced the craftspeople behind our
products,” explains Caudill. “This year, our goal was to continue to explore the beauty
of manufacturing, while capturing the spirit of Detroit that drove us
here in the first place, which led us to Weber. He’s responsible
for some of the most memorable fashion campaigns of our age, and we
were excited by the idea of Weber returning to rediscover a city he
photographed nearly a decade ago.”

Bruce Weber's Shinola campaign
Photograph: Bruce Weber

One reason Shinola’s campaign makes sense is that the company is growing, rapidly. The brand made 50,000 watches in 2013 and wants to increase production to 150,000 in 2014, while branches are due to open in Minneapolis, Chicago and Washington DC later this year. Shinola currently employs 230 people but is “recruiting every week.” With expansion like that, it seems a good time to remind people where Shinola hails from.

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