As part of the luxury brand, Chrome Hearts sells jewelry, clothing, accessories, eyewear, fragrances, home goods, and furniture. It is the brand’s name that refers to hearts, but their staples are crosses and text written in Old English. Despite Chrome Hearts’ success and estimated worth of approximately $1 billion, the majority of the general public is unaware of Chrome Hearts or knows little about it. As a result of Chrome Hearts’ purposeful mystery and understated nature, many people find themselves asking questions when they discover the brand. This article aims to address the most commonly asked questions about Chrome Hearts.
- How did Chrome Hearts get its start?
- Why is Chrome Hearts so expensive?
- Why does Chrome Hearts have such few releases?
- How did Chrome Hearts become so popular?
- Why does Chrome Hearts do little press?
- Where can you buy Chrome Hearts?
How did Chrome Hearts get its start?
The Original Founders
With the assistance of Richard Stark, John Bowman, and Leonard Kamhout, Chrome Hearts was established in 1988. Stark, a leather dealer, had experience in carpentry, and Bowman was an established leather goods manufacturer. They were heavily involved in motorcycle culture and desired leather riding gear, including leather chaps, pants, jackets, and vests. Due to a lack of available options, they decided to make some for themselves and their fellow bikers. It was Stark’s responsibility to acquire the materials, while Bowman worked on the production. To make the hardware and accessories, they enlisted Kamhout, a jeweler specializing in sterling silver. The group worked out of a Los Angeles garage.
Laurie Lynn Joins and Bowman and Kamhout Leave
The first client of Richard Stark was Laurie Lynn. She was a freelance artist and photographer who also designed swimwear. When she met Richard at a fish market in Malibu, she decided to collaborate with him on a leather swimsuit collection. Several months later, Richard and Laurie Lynn married, and she joined the company as a partner. In 1994, Stark, Bowman, and Kamhout fell apart for unknown reasons. Bowman and Kamhout left the brand, and Stark purchased both of their shares. After becoming owned by Richard and Laurie Lynn Stark, Chrome Hearts became what it is today.
A Family Business
Starks Richard and Laurie Lynn have three children who are also involved in Chrome Hearts. According to Laurie Lynn, a lot of children are born into family businesses, but they don’t necessarily gravitate towards it; we are extremely fortunate that the opposite is true. Jesse Jo Stark, the oldest, is the Vice President of the company. In addition to Kristian Stark and Frankie Belle Stark, the twins also contribute to the brand’s development. Every aspect of Chrome Hearts is decided by a majority vote within the family, according to Laurie Lynn.
Why is Chrome Hearts so expensive?
It is difficult to give an exact price range for Chrome Hearts items as they have such a wide range of products and most of them are up for sale at higher prices when one wishes to purchase from them. One of their lower-priced items is the “Soap On A Rope,” which is available for $90. Many items are worth hundreds and thousands of dollars with some even exceeding one million dollars. They have sold items such as a toilet plunger for $6,000 and an ebony dining table worth $160,000.
Chrome Hearts products are made in the USA, which is one of the reasons why they are so expensive. Many companies have their products made overseas to save money on materials, labor, and taxes. The company was founded in Los Angeles and intended to remain there. It has a production facility in central Hollywood that spans more than three blocks and employs more than 1,000 workers to produce all Chrome Hearts products.
Few Releases of Small-Batches
A second reason Chrome Hearts is so expensive is that they rarely release new collections. In contrast to most brands, they do not follow a seasonal calendar or any calendar at all. They tend to release two collections per year and occasionally individual pieces. By using this release method, Chrome Hearts items are classified as rare or limited before they even launch.
Why does Chrome Hearts have few releases?
One of Jesse Jo’s first projects, a silver stud, was the primary hardware component of most Chrome Hearts products. Jesse Jo spent four years completing this silver stud. It takes Chrome Hearts a long time to develop and manufacture products. The long timeline also frustrates Jesse Jo: “Everything takes so long to develop, it is frustrating,” but Chrome Hearts works that way because of her parents’ attention to detail and commitment to quality. The long timeline was not known to even famous model Bella Hadid. It is said that Jesse Jo recalls Bella Hadid asking her, “Where are my boots?” Jesse Jo replied, “They are literally handmade, so I need another two months to make them.” Chrome Hearts does not expedite the process for celebrities or family friends either. It may be frustrating and inconvenient to have to wait months and years for Chrome Hearts pieces, but everything that leaves their production facility is made with high-quality materials and craftsmanship.
How did Chrome Hearts become so popular?
Although it was never intended to cater to celebrities and become a celebrity-loved brand, it has worked to boost the popularity of Chrome Hearts. Chrome Hearts’ gothic, leather aesthetic initially appealed to bikers and rock and roll musicians, who matched their own aesthetics. The clientele has grown with the brand as well. Chrome Hearts have become more popular among Hollywood celebrities like models and rappers in recent years. By wearing Chrome Hearts, other celebrities follow suit, and so do ordinary people with money and access to the brand.
Their Rock & Roll Cult Following
A low-budget American comedy horror film, Chopper Chicks in Zombietown, was offered to the original trio of founders to do costume design. The movie working title was Chrome Hearts before its release, which led to the brand’s name. One of the stars was the then-girlfriend of the lead guitarist of the Sex Pistols, Steve Jones. After Jones’ girlfriend introduced Stark to him, he became a fan of Stark’s designs. On stage, he would request customized gear from Stark. Word spread throughout the rock and roll community, and other popular musicians began to wear Chrome Hearts. Among the clients were Lenny Kravitz, Aerosmith, Cher, the Cult, Heart, Mötley Crüe, Guns N’ Roses, and many others.
Hollywood A-Listers: Models and Rappers
Among the Hollywood celebrities who love Chrome Hearts are model Bella Hadid and rapper Drake. Bella Hadid is a friend of the Starks, specifically Jesse Jo. She visited Chrome Hearts as a teenager. In 2017, she collaborated with Chrome Hearts on a 40-piece clothing and accessory collection. The collection was titled the CHROME HEARTS x BELLA collection. She has collaborated with Chrome Hearts a number of times since then. If Chrome Hearts had an official ambassador, Bella Hadid would serve as its ambassador.
As part of his collaboration with Chrome Hearts, Drake has also been seen frequently wearing Chrome Hearts in public appearances and social media posts throughout 2020. He also got a Rolls-Royce Cullinan and collaborated with Chrome Hearts to create a chrome heart-themed interior for the car. The first collection Drake collaborated on with Chrome Hearts was released in May 2021. During the promotion of his album titled “Certified Lover Boy,” Drake released “Certified Lover Boy” merchandise.
Why does Chrome Hearts do little press?
While celebrity collaborations and Chrome Hearts marketing can serve as a form of publicity and marketing for the brand, they are not nearly as powerful as they can be for the average brand. Richard Stark does not believe in the press or putting Chrome Hearts on the Internet for public viewing. His philosophy goes back to his childhood when he was a child: “When you bought an album, you were fortunate if there was anything on it. You were very lucky if there was a picture. You didn’t know anything, couldn’t look it up – and it was kinda cool. Now it’s just all there at your fingertips.” It is clear that Richard Stark loves the surprise aspect of not knowing what you are going to receive until you receive it, and he wishes to preserve this aspect through Chrome Hearts.
The Little Press They Do
In addition to Laurie Lynn, Jesse Jo is in charge of the press. Laurie Lynn handles a number of business affairs Richard is not interested in. She is in charge of photography and marketing, taking photos for ad campaigns as well as Chrome Hearts Magazine, which she founded in the early 2000s, but ceased to publish in 2017. In his opinion, “Without my wife, we would have no press.”
The Stark children, who are from a generation that has become increasingly online, wanted Chrome Hearts to have an online presence, even if it is a small one. After years, Chrome Hearts established Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook accounts. A little more information is needed that is not as accessible to some people, such as those who cannot visit the stores and stuff. When she says “a little more,” she meant it. Jesse Jo oversees the Instagram account. Rather than showing off the actual items, Chrome Hearts’ Instagram feed consists of pictures that are more about aesthetics than showing off the items themselves. The captions are typically brief.
Where can you buy Chrome Hearts?
Chrome Hearts Stores
With 33 stores worldwide, Chrome Hearts has locations in Aspen, Honolulu, Las Vegas (Caesars Palace), Los Angeles, Malibu, Miami, New York City (West Village and Upper East Side), and St. Barth. To cater to Chrome Hearts’ large following in Asia, they have 3 locations in China, 1 in Hong Kong, 1 in Taiwan, 10 in Japan, and 4 in Korea. They also have locations in Europe, specifically London, Manchester, and Paris.
Third-Party Retailers and Resellers
Furthermore, Chrome Hearts can be purchased through third-party retailers and resellers. A number of boutiques sell Chrome Hearts, including Riccardi in Boston, Hirshleifers, Nuages in Aspen, George Green in Chicago, Joy Fashion in St. Moritz, and Maxfield in Los Angeles. In addition to Bergdorf Goodman and Selfridges, they are also available on resale websites such as StockX, The RealReal, Grailed, and Hype Clothing.
Lack of E-Commerce
Chrome Hearts promotes in-person shopping because they do not sell their products online. Even third-party retailers are not permitted to sell Chrome Hearts products on their websites. In other words, customers are unable to determine what products Chrome Hearts has unless they visit the stores that carry Chrome Hearts. However, Chrome Hearts does sell some items on its website that do not require as much craftsmanship. The list includes candles, perfumes, soap on a rope, incense, nail polish, a matchstick holder, and their magazines as a set.
In 1992, when Richard Stark accepted the Accessories Designer of the Year award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), it was evident that Chrome Hearts was a truly unique brand in every sense. It is widely known that the CFDA is a well-known organization in the fashion industry, but Richard Stark did not know about them and almost rejected the award. Chrome Hearts continues to disregard awards and fame. They operate completely on their terms with no rules or labels.“I just call Chrome Hearts, ‘Chrome Hearts.’ If you have to tell somebody what you are – you aren’t.” – Richard Stark