The History Of Chrome Hearts 

Chrome hearts is a high-end jewelry company that was founded by three American entrepreneurs: Richard Stark, John Bowman, and Leonard Kamhout back in 1988. Since then, the firm has grown to fairly compete with other prominent brands in the jewelry industry. 

Any time you mention Chrome Hearts in the U.S., most people will associate that with a rocker, badass, or a wealthy lifestyle. Over time, the company has expanded to produce products such as sunglasses, sweatshirts, t-shirts, and wife beaters or tank tops. This firm is located at the heart of Hollywood, Los Angeles.

When they were starting the company, Richard Stark and his friend John Bowman were mainly designing products such as leather jackets, chaps, and saddlebags for their Harley-riding friends. Later on, they realized just how their skill could turn out into a lucrative business and decided to scale up. 

When they initially commercialized the firm, each of them specialized in a different field. Bowman took the role of designing leather products while Stark managed the marketing and sales department.

At one point during an interview, Stark was asked what compelled them to start the company. In response, Stark said that he used to ride bikes with his friend Richard, but at that time they could not access good jackets that they wanted. 

That’s why they ended up designing their own, unaware that it would turn out into such a great firm. The amazing part of the company is that all their products are handmade and of exceptional quality. With time, the firm expanded from making leather products to even more precious jewelry such as diamond jewelry, silver accessories, and even furniture.

Later on, the third business partner, Leonard Kamhout, joined them as a jeweler. Kamhout was highly skilled in sterling silver. He later became the founder of Lone Ones, a private custom jewelry atelier, also based in Los Angeles, California. So, the trio became the pillars behind the Chrome Hearts Company.

A year later, Chrome Hearts landed its first gig where they were tasked with making a costume design for chopper chicks in Zombietown—a comical American horror movie that was written and directed by Dan Hopkins. The movie also featured several popular artists such as Billy Bob Thornton, Hal Sparks, and Veejay Martha Quinn. Spark got the title of his brand, “Lone One,” from this project. Lone One was a name given to one of the sex pistols that they were costarring. However, like in any other business, there emerged a fall out amongst the parties and some had to quit. It is in 1994 when Leonard Kamhout joined Devon Wheeler and together they founded Lone One.

In one of their projects, Chrome Hearts was hired by Laurie Lynn to design leather swimsuits. In the process, Laurie and Stark got into a relationship and later got married. So Laura also became a partner in the company.

The company continued to expand to other cities, and in 1996, Chrome Hearts opened its first outlet store in Manhattan, New York. Ever since the company has continued to expand to other prominent cities in the world. As of April 2020, the company had expanded to four continents in the world.

  • In Asia, it has stores in Hong Kong, Busan, Nagoya, Kobe, Tokyo Taipei, Seoul, Osaka, Beijing, Fukuoka, and Hangzhou.
  • In Europe, Chrome Hearts has stores at Manchester, London, and Paris.
  • In North America’s Caribbean islands, they also have stores at Saint Barthélemy.

The company also made great achievements such as winning the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) award in 1992 under the category of Accessory Designer of the Year. This award was presented to Cher, who was fully dressed in Chrome Hearts, although he says he didn’t know what CFDA is all about!

This extensive growth can be attributed to the many collaborations that the Chrome Hearts has entered into with other distinguished firms.

So, let’s take a look at some of them.

  • Chrome Hearts worked with the iconic band in 2002. In their project, the duo designed a collection in their celebrations for their Forty Licks album and world tour. They crafted amazing jewelry using gemstones and diamonds. Also, they featured the “Lips and Tongue” motif.
  • Chrome Hearts also teamed up with Comme des Garçons, a Japanese fashion brand in 2007. The two design companies came up with great pendants and dark-themed garments that have made great sales up to date.
  • Together with Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation—an American artist and Rick Owens—a fashion designer, Chrome Hearts came up with amazing shoe designs furnished with different silver decorations. This collaboration happened in 2010.
  • In 2014, Chrome Hearts made a formal engagement with The Elder Statesman—a high-end knitwear and lifestyle company, by buying a minority stake. Laurie Stark noted that the investment was very strategic and personal.
  • Besides, the company collaborated with established brands like Adidas in 2016. In this project, Chrome Hearts worked with Adidas Original in the customization of the iconic Stan Smith silhouette. Chrome Hearts used its hallmark silver accents to embellish the eyelets with metal elements.
  • In 2012 and 2018, the company teamed up with an Italian luxury fashion label known as Off-White. In the latter collaboration, the two companies released an exquisite bench that attracted close to 3.5 million followers on Instagram, at the instance when it was released. Generally, the two releases were well embraced by the public.
  • Also, the firm collaborated with Bella Hadid to work on 40-piece apparel and accessories. They released their work in 2017, which helped Chrome Hearts to establish their first shops-in-shop at Selfridges, which deals with handbags, ready-to-wear pieces, and jewelry. This collaboration was featured in the 2017’s Paris Fashion Week.

Over the years, Chrome Hearts has developed into an influential brand, especially in the United States, attracting many wealthy people, especially from celebrities from the music industry. Some of them include Kanye West, Britney Spears, LeBron James, Jaye Muller, Steven Tyler, Karl Lagerfeld, Elton John among others.

Generally, Chrome Hearts has experienced exponential growth since it was established, which is a great inspiration. It can almost be concluded that the next move is up!