What is Shinola and why did it get a shoutout during the Oscars?

(Photo by Tasia Wells/Getty Images for Shinola)
(Photo by Tasia Wells/Getty Images for Shinola)

If you watched Sunday night's Oscar ceremony, you may have been scratching your head when "Green Book" director Peter Farrelly gave Detroit a shoutout, saying that something was saving the city during his acceptance speech. 

What Farrelly did say onstage was, "Tom Kartsotis and Shinola watches, they're unbelievable, they're saving Detroit."

While most Detroiters know what Shinola is, many people across the country may have been wondering what the company is, and is it really saving Detroit? 

The company was launched in 2011 by Tom Kartosis of Bedrock Brands (who also co-founded Fossil) and it makes watches, bikes and fine leather goods. The company bought the name, Shinola, from an early 1900s shoe polish brand, according to "Business Insider.

None of the people involved with the company had ties to Detroit, but they liked what Detroit stood for and they committed to the city by providing jobs to residents and investing in infrastructure. 

The company is primarily known for making high-end and expensive watches that are assembled at their Detroit factory. The watches range anywhere from $400-$1,200 and are sleek in design. The company also builds its own bikes that look like they came out of 1955, but cost more than $2,000. 

Shinola has also explored audio, with record players and sound systems that are state of the art. And of course, fine leather goods, such as purses, wallets and belts are all very well made and tasteful. 

Shinola's latest venture has been something totally unique to the company and city of Detroit. Last month the company opened the Shinola Hotel, an eclectic and boutique hotel in the heart of downtown Detroit that is supposed to represent everything that is Shinola. 

While Shinola has brought more jobs to the city, picking Detroit as a location was a lot more calculated. 

An unnamed employee told Crain's in 2012 that when Kartosis was choosing a city for the company, he ran test groups to get better information. He basically found out that people in Detroit were willing to pay more for a product just because it said it was "made in Detroit." 

Shinola watches (and the rest of their products, frankly) have become such a premium brand and it is totally synonymous with the city of Detroit, likely prompting Farrelly to think that a watch company was saving a low-income city.

Most people didn't think about Farrelly's remarks on Shinola or Detroit, but Detroiters took to Twitter to complain about his statement. 

Shinola released a statement after the Oscars.  

About the Author:

Jack is a Digital Content Editor with a degree in creative writing and French from Western Michigan University. He specializes in writing about movies, food and the latest TV shows.