Richard Stark - Chrome Hearts

Chrome Hearts was originally founded in 1988 by Richard Stark and leather manufacturer John Bowman in a Los Angeles garage. Stark and Bowman couldn’t find leather jackets on the market that they wanted to wear, so they started to make their own. Sterling silver jeweler Leonard Kamhout joined the operation shortly after. The first big exposure for the brand came from legendary punk rock band, the Sex Pistols. The then-girlfriend of lead guitarist Steve Jones was starring a low-budget horror comedy from 1989 titled Chopper Chicks in Zombietown and Chrome Hearts designed some costumes for the movie. Jones took a liking to the brand and began wearing it on stage. From there, other big bands like Motley Crüe and Guns N’ Roses started wearing the Chrome Hearts' leather pieces and accessories as well, which began to establish the brand as an essential part of the rockstar uniform at the time.


By the early ‘90s, the fashion world started paying attention to Chrome Hearts too, but Stark has never been interested in being pigeonholed as fashion brand despite its ties to the industry. Chrome Hearts received a CFDA Accessory Designer of the Year award in 1992, which cemented its reputation and increased brand awareness. Cher, another musical icon who fancied the brand, even presented Stark with the award in a full Chrome Hearts fit. He apparently almost didn’t accept the prestigious honor at the time because he wasn’t familiar with the CFDA. A 1999 article in the Japan Times even referred to Stark as “the antidesigner.” In the interview, the founder goes on to say how his favorite perk of success is the “radical seats at most concerts.”


“There’s no game being played for the fashion world. To me Chrome Hearts has got nothing to do with the fashion world,” Stark told the Japan Times. “We don’t have any seasons. I make things when I wanna make them, because I wanna make them.”


Comme des Garçon’s Rei Kawakubo was responsible for Chrome Hearts’ introduction into the Japanese market around the same time. She showcased the brand’s goods for a season in CDG’s Aoyama flagship back in the ‘90s. The two parties would eventually collaborate officially in 2007 for a series of silver pendants and apparel.


The trio of founders would eventually split in 1994 and Stark and his wife Laurie Lynn would maintain control of the brand. Two years later, the brand’s first flagship opened in New York City. It has grown into a 28-store operation since with locations in places like Los Angeles, Miami, and Las Vegas. Each offers its own unique look and products. The “fuck you” carved into the floorboards is a store signature. Besides flagships, the brand has been stocked at a limited number of luxury stores like Maxfield, Bergdorf Goodman, Selfridges, and Dover Street Market. There is no e-commerce presence (unless you opt to browse the secondary market). Its limited nature adds even more to the brand’s allure. Already established as a staple in rocker's wardrobes, the rap world would eventually take a liking to the brand as well. In the Aughts, Juelz Santana, Jim Jones, and Lil Wayne frequently wore Chrome Hearts apparel and accessories like its leather belts donning silver hardware. More recently, it’s been championed by names like Lil Uzi Vert, Kanye West, and Travis Scott.

You may also like

View all
Example blog post
Example blog post
Example blog post