Three years ago, when Chrome Hearts owners Richard and Laurie Lynn Stark were vacationing on the Caribbean island of St. Barts, their 16-year-old son Christian declared: I think it’s pretty cool. ”
“He’s fine, I’ll do it,” Richard replied.
It’s not normal for parents to send their 16-year-olds to the store, but there’s nothing normal about how Chrome Hearts works. The 34-year-old rebel luxury brand from Los Angeles was built on the artistic whims of motorcycle enthusiast founders Richard and his wife Laurie Lynn. On Monday night, the couple will receive the Jeffrey Beane Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2022 CFDA Fashion Awards.
With the exception of some fragrances, the new Chrome Hearts designs are not available for purchase online. Whether you want silver-accented jeans, a black quilted leather Byzantine crossover sofa, an irreverent “Fuck You Spacer” name ring, or a $550 embroidered sweatshirt, you’ve got to get away with it. One of 34 company stores in the US, China, Japan, South Korea, UK, Paris and of course St. Barths.
Or try one of the few retailers the Starks have agreed to work with, including Bergdorf Goodman in New York, Maxfield in Los Angeles, and Dover Street Market in Ginza, Japan. Or check out reselling sites like Grailed. Here, rapper Offset’s custom-made checkered leather jeans are currently on sale for $81,000. Leather ties sell for $1,750, reflecting the wide range of prices labels receive for personalized products.
Starks’ business strategy can be summed up as “Create what you want when you want”. Most of our products, including our sunglasses, are designed and manufactured in our Los Angeles factory by artisans who have been trained and employed for many years. Italian and French items are also available, including a long-standing collaboration with Baccarat.
They have no interest in meeting the needs of retailers for on-time pickups, commercial product lines, or chargeback systems. Instead of rushing to market with an efficient inventory system, Richard stocked a myriad of products in Chrome Hearts’ sprawling factory in Los Angeles. These are the secrets waiting in the wings, he says.
Persuading Richard to agree to an interview is not easy. he doesn’t love them. If he agrees, he makes a Facetime call, pointing the camera at his face and ear canal in different ways.
“Hardcore investment bankers couldn’t handle me. No way,” he says. “[Chrome Hearts] is like heart-driven. It doesn’t depend on money.” I’m not going to make hotel slippers in Asia just because I can earn a lot money,” he added.
The Starks control Chrome Hearts, but according to Laurie Lynn, when her children are young, they have no say in the management, but invest in a “small sideline” that is familiar with the company and its ethos. We rent a house. the investment was for estate planning, not financing, so if something happened when the kids were young, the adults could step in, we haven’t disclosed the numbers.
Using a system reminiscent of Italian fashion dynasties, the Stark family recruits family and friends to create a tight-knit group of employees. Mother Laurie Lynn handles knitwear. Her brother is a 3D sculptor. My nephew is in charge of logistics.
“We literally have schools, we educate, we bring in people of all ages, men and women, from all cultures,” says Laurie Lynn. They train workers interested in jewelry making, furniture carving, cutting and sewing, and 3D rendering.
“Most companies have a corporate-type structure. They say, ‘Oh, your EBITDA is like this, you have to sell it,'” she adds. “But it’s not mysterious, it’s not sexy, it’s not magic. Businessmen stick to formula. This is the biggest mistake young brands make.”
Raising their children between their home in Malibu and the sprawling apartment-lined factories of Hollywood, the Starks launched their brand as teenagers. For several years, Christian ran a surfwear brand with some friends from school. His twin sister, Frankie Bell, owns a swimwear brand called Dipped in Blue. Jessie Jo, 30, is a musical artist, has released a new album, has 469,000 followers on Instagram and Bella Hadid is one of her best friends. She herself was in charge of live production screen printing at the Chrome Hearts factory.