Chrome Industries

  • City Series Berlin: Surface Designer Matt Manson

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    The first time we crossed paths with British illustrator and surface designer Matt Manson was while working on our City Series London installment. We partnered with Brooklyn’s Flavor Paper for the liner artwork and worked closely with Matt on the pattern development. For our Berlin City Series, we worked with Matt to develop a pattern mash up of Chrome’s take on Berlin.

    What exactly is Surface Design?
    As a surface designer my main role is to provide graphic/illustrative solutions to products and surrounding environments.  For example I am often asked to provide wallpapers, carpets and feature graphics for restaurants or hotels that fit in with the their branded identities.

    Can you tell us a little about your background and how you began your career?
    I was born and raised in Bristol, England. Bristol is a small but culturally rich city about 2 hours from London.  Growing up in Bristol in the late 80s and throughout the 90s I was exposed to the local music and graffiti scene.  Bristol is the original home to bands/producers such as Massive Attack, Portisthead, Roni Size and artists such as Banksy so I grew up around some of England's best counter-cultures from an early age.

    In my early 20s wanting to see more of England I relocated to London to study surface design at the University of Arts London. I quickly set up base in Brixton. Brixton was a part of London I was already familiar with as I was often visiting for the local party scene so it felt like a natural relocation.

    What are your influences?
    Originally my main influence and focus was graffiti, tagging and generic vandalism.

    Nowadays I also draw influence from underground comics, the arts and crafts movement of the 1860s and roots reggae.

    Do you have something that inspires your designs?
    Life, people, the past and the future it all inspires.

    What was it like interning at Flavor Paper and Nobrow?
    When I first started to studying I wanted to intern as much as possible.  I wanted to get the intern stuff under my belt quickly and start getting paid.

    Interning at Flavor Paper was amazing. I spent a summer living in Brooklyn, found a squat to live in.

    After moving back to London I hooked up with the Nobrow guys and spent the winter screenprinting.

    In the mean time I managed to get a student visa to get back to the States. I moved back to Brooklyn to work again at Flavor Paper for 6 months.

    You're currently living in Amsterdam, how did you end up there?
    I moved back to London and spent a year working as a freelancer. I managed to get a few projects in motion and kept growing my portfolio.  Then an opportunity to work at Marcel Wanders as a surface pattern designer came up.

    I relocated to Amsterdam 6 months ago...

    What was the inspiration behind the Berlin City Series? Tell us about that project.
    The inspiration was lederhosen, beer and Bavarian needlework.

    I looked to the city's cycle culture and squat scene for inspiration and got some mood boards together.  From then on  I had my references to base my work on and developed a few ideas.

    To see more of Matt's work, please check out his website.

  • Meet the Maker: Chrome Chicago's Bag Maker, Caroline Borucki

    caroline2 NAME: Caroline Borucki
    BIRTHPLACE: Hinsdale, Illinois
    BIKE: Biria Citibike step-through in olive; her name is Laverne.
    DAY JOB: Chrome Chicago bag maker/seamstress
    SIDE PROJECT: My apparel & craft brand, self titled 'caroline borucki'
    5 SONGS ON YOUR PLAYLIST AT RANDOM:
    Lil' Red Riding Hood - Sam the Sham & the Pharaoh
    Can't Hardly Wait - the Replacements
    Age of Consent - New Order
    Glass Figurine - Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire
    Yekermo Sew - Mulatu Astatke

    Let’s start at the beginning. How did you get started making things?
    I was an avid thrift store shopper in high-school, so eventually I decided to alter clothing to my liking. After getting a good response from classmates, I decided to study apparel design in college.

    What was your first sewing project?
    I was captivated by fabrics with rad prints, so the fit and sizing of thrift items didn't impact my purchase. I know my first projects revolved around transforming long skirts into bubble skirts, and muumuu's into fitted dresses.

    You’ve been making custom Chrome bags in Chicago for a long time, can you tell us about some of the favorite bags you’ve made?
    My favorite bags have most definitely been the holiday bags I've done. I draft/cut out special patches that have resembled a reindeer, snowman, color string-lights, Frankenstein and jack-o-lanterns. The time it takes to create them is well worth it when it comes to Chrome Chicago visitors commenting on them. I get really excited about the holidays, so I'm pretty into perking everyone else up about them too.

    caroline1Have you encountered any odd #ChromeCustoms bag requests? Has there ever been anything really crazy?
    My favorite requests are from dedicated fans; I've done a few bags inspired by Zelda and sports teams. I assist with choosing the right color scheme and patch placement to make the bag perfect. From the day I began I have been asked by a multitude of people about firearm and rifle scope bags/accessory attachments. I give my input on how to go about it, but still waiting to see images of their final results.

    If you could have one stock Chrome bag which would you choose?
    My favorite bag is my Metropolis, but if we are talking about a bag I've been eying I would say the Sotnik. WHY? Only because I like wearing/using bags that I can fit into. Plus they are great in packing all my merchandise to events & fashion shows.

    Besides making custom bags at the Chrome HUB in Chicago, you also have your own line clothing, cards and frills, how do you create balance in your life?
    It's pretty tough, I'm lucky if I remember to eat throughout the day. I try to map out a weekly schedule of to-do lists, while making a habit of waking up at 6am to go to my workspace before Chrome. Never skipping my morning bagel & cream cheese is most important.

    Your clothing line takes inspiration from nature’s seamy underbelly – a decaying peach, intertidal sealife – what qualities inspire you? What is your process of getting inspired?
    I'm inspired by botany, mostly rooted in mycology and plants. The textures and colors associated within these topics is extremely inspiring for me, and I love to use new techniques to mimic the appearances. I try to classify each collection with a specific biological taxonomy, the goal is to learn as much as I can about science along the way of creating collections each season.

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    Your clothes are very sculptural, how did your education as a sculptor effect your design decisions?
    After getting experience in sculpture I realized how similar it could be translated into fashion. While in college I did a lot more sculptural fashion pieces, but when trying to branch into the industry I've had to tone down my ideas for wearability. I appreciate the one-of-a-kind mentality for art, so everything I produce is hand-crafted to be different. I've branched into a lot of 'craft' because having a variety of outlets allows for me to continually develop new skills.

    You got started out in fashion, what drew you to work at Chrome?
    Having life-time warranty products is a pretty rare occurrence, so knowing Chrome had such high standards for their products made me really want to be part of the team. I have always been a 'bag-lady,' carrying around a bunch of cheaply-made thrift-found luggage bags while making daily commutes. It wasn't until I made my own first Chrome bag that I realized I didn't need to invest in a new bag every couple months.

    Can we pick your brain a bit about Chicago? What’s your favorite thing about living in the Windy City?
    I've been in the Chicagoland area my entire life, so for me walking down the street and running into people I know on a regular basis is probably my favorite part. Witnessing Chicago's crazy weather is always exciting. Plus the food out here is fabulous!

    If you some have time off, but only enough for a bike ride where do you go?
    I ride around the forest preserve, specifically the Salt Creek Trail. I've been riding that trail since my brother led the way when I was in elementary school. Plus, hanging out with deer in the forest is one of my favorite things to do when I have the time.

    What's the best music venue in Chicago?
    It's not exactly a venue, but my favorite Chicago performance was at the Fourth Presbyterian church downtown. I saw Andrew Bird's holiday show there in 2009, and it was simply fantastic.

    Besides having fun at Third Thursdays, do you have a favorite bar?
    Hopleaf, it has the most amazing selection of Belgian beers, as well as delicious grub.

  • Wrenched Nation Tour | Eleventh Stop: Denver

    "I pictured myself in a Denver bar that night, with all the gang, and in their eyes I would be strange and ragged and like the Prophet who has walked across the land to bring the dark Word, and the only Word I had was 'Wow!"  -Jack Kerouac "On the Road"

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    Colorado has a special place in my heart and it's right near the aorta. I used to live and party my brains out at high altitude and loved it like crazy. When I was there my mom and brother each decided to make the move from Fargo and join me in this beautiful state, so stopping in Denver wasn't just another city I was visiting. I was going home. Continue reading

  • Interview with Wolf Pack Hustle Champ Veronika Volok

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    Back in March, Chrome Coffee barista and Destroy Bikes team rider, Veronika Volok slayed it at the Wolfpack Hustle Marathon Crash race across LA. Next weekend is the 6th Street Drag Race, the final event in the Unified Title Race Series and things are looking pretty good for Ms. Volok. We caught up with her to hear her thoughts on riding fixed, philosophy on racing, and why testosterone is highly motivating.

    NAME: Veronika Volok
    BIRTHPLACE: Pacifica, CA
    AGE: 23
    BIKE CLUB: FWOD
    FIRST BIKE: Bight pink Bianchi Fremont
    DAY JOB: Barista at Chrome SF & Cento
    FAVORITE SUPERVILLAIN: Jafar from Aladdin
    3 SONGS ON YOUR PLAYLIST: Mariah Carey "You'll Always Be my Baby," Daft Punk "Around the World," Sabertooth Zombie "Curly Lox"

    How did you get into bikes? Have you always ridden fixed?
    I got into bikes 'cause one of my friends was riding fixed. He was actually the person that sold me my first bike and I thought it was a weird concept at first, that there's these pedals that can't go backwards, they just go forward. I got into it as a way to get around in 2008, I never thought I'd get so seriously into it.

    What bikes do you have in your stable? Your track frame is USA made, isn't it?
    Cerberus Pro made by Destroy Bikes, who I currently bike for. My second bike is a Look K6386 road bike, that I'm currently building up. The Cerebus is made in Redwood City. I don't like keeping a lot of bikes around my house if I'm not going to use them, so I limit myself to those two.

    You crushed it at the Marathon Crush, and are ranked #2 leading into the final Wolfpack Hustle event. How did you get so damned fast? Have you been racing for a long time?
    I actually haven't been racing long. I feel like the reason why I did so well is because I ride with my boyfriend who is not easy on me, so he helps me push push my limits. I feel like even though I'm in a bike club full of women, it's nice to challenge myself riding with men who are hell of a lot faster than me. I feel like that's the only way to improve myself is by riding with people that are faster than me.

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    It was rad to see you and your man cross the finish together at the WPH Marathon Crash race, how was that? Most people don't get to race with their partners.
    Honestly, it was a really overwhelming and heartfelt moment. I didn't know if I won at that point. It felt good just to know that, not only did I finish, but we both had been able to finish together after pushing so hard.

    He was with me 80% of the way, we lost each other at some point, but  I was able to catch up with him. At the end, he was on my tail saying "go go go", and pushing me to go faster. I didn't even realize he was there with me, I just was looking at that finish line thinking "I want to get this done, let's go let's go!" My legs were so tired.

    What type of race do you like best: Sprints or Endurance?
    I used to hate endurance because I thought sprints were easy, you just had to get from Point A to Point B. Lately I've been doing a lot of endurance, not just races, but riding. With sprints, it can go either way, either you do really well, or you don't. In the beginning, I loved doing sprints, because it was easy, but now I love endurance because it's such a challenge. You need to not only be physically strong, but also mentally strong. It's not about starting the race, it's about having the mental strength  to finish it.

    How do you think you’ll do this weekend at the WPH 6th Street Drag Race?
    Oh man! It's coming up! Honestly, I feel neutral about this weekend. My mentality is "can't stop, won't stop." When I do something I'm not in it to win it, I'm in it to do it. If I can finish in the top three, that will be amazing for me.

    I hate having the mentality of being #1, because if you don't reach that goal, you're really crushed. I like not having any expectations, playing it by ear.

    We’ve heard you’re in an all-girl bike club in Oakland called Fixed Without Dix (FWOD).
    We're helping the community by inviting women and transfolks to go ride to go have fun to feel like you're a part of something. The bike industry is so male dominated, so it's awesome to have this group of girls that gets together once a week and just ride bikes and doesn't give a f*ck.

    How has riding in a dude-free environment increased your skills?
    It's different. It's really relaxing. It's fun to have a girls night out, because there's no competition, you're not trying to impress anyone, you can just be yourself. That's the best part. I feel like sometimes when I ride with guys, they're all showing off. It makes you have to ride even harder because there's these dudes full of testosterone trying to beat the next light.

    It feels awesome just having a group of women who have the same interests and hobbies and are united by their two wheeled vehicles.

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    Having won a #CovetedJersey by winning the WPH Marathon Crash race, what advice do you have for dirtbags like you who aspire to greatness?
    You can't have the mentality that you're going to win it. You just have to have the mentality that you're going to do your best, try your hardest, and if you can get that jersey, then eff yeah, but if you don't get it this time, there's always next time. There's always next year.

    The fact that I was able to win the race and get the jersey, it was like the angels were singing to me.

    You’re a barista at Chrome Coffee in SF, go to school in SJ and ride with a FWOD in Oaktown. How do you do to find balance in your life?
    I don't even know. My bike is able to give me the balance of doing everything I have. My bike helps me get from Point A to Point B.  My boyfriend also lives with me, so that really saves on time, because I don't have to make plans with him, I'll see him in the end. I think the coffee helps a lot too.

    You ride for Destroy Bikes, how long have your been riding for them?
    I've been riding with them since 2011 or 2012. My second track bike bike was the Lady Death, but it was too big. The Cerebus Pro was actually a prototype, and the first time I rode it was the Wolfpack Hustle Marathon Crash and it was so comfortable. With guys, size doesn't matter, but with bikes, it makes all the difference.

    Do you have any shout outs?
    FWOD
    Destroy Bikes
    Team Cento
    WOB (they're like FWOD for boys)
    team jortz
    Slurpcult
    CBNC

  • Wrenched London Launch Party

    Wrenched London is coming to Blighty. Come party with us as we celebrate the City of London — as seen from the eyes of the ones who live the City.

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    6 September. 7pm.
    Kinoko Cycles
    10 Golden Square
    London W1F 9JA
    Tel: +44 (0)207 734 1885

  • CHROME X CARDIEL X T19

    T19 X CHROME

    Limited Edition collaboration with famed Japanese skate/fixed brand T19 and skate legend turned track bike savant John Cardiel.

    We partnered with Japanese skate/fixed crew T19 to create a limited edition ORP, our lightweight rolltop daypack designed with skate legend and track bike savant John Cardiel. T19 was one of the initial startup skate companies in Tokyo and has been shaping the skate culture in Japan for over thirty years. They've worked with Stussy, New Era, and Fragment. We're stoked to work with them.

    T19 was founded in 1984 by five street skaters in the Shibuya and Harajuku area. T19 also helped spark the original track bike movement in Tokyo. A decade after the formation of the team, the brand T19 Skateboards was born. During the track bike show hosted by Subcrew (HK) in Beijing in 2010, the T19 team got to know John Cardiel through NYC’s John Igei. A year later, T19 and John Cardiel came together again during the FTC/Chrome Japan Tour and the idea emerged to make a T19 x Cardiel bag.

    The T19 ORP features T19's signature blue and a custom T19 patch designed by pro skater and graffiti artist Hirotaka Sasao, 笹尾弘貴 a.k.a. “ CHAKA." The Operation Readiness Pack (ORP) is lightweight and water-resistant and can be used as a daypack or rolled up and stowed in another bag for travel ease.

    Limited quanitties for the T19 ORP now available.

    Shot/ Edited: TAKEIGOODMAN

  • Chrome X Blue Lug

    Two iconic brands. Three unique bags.

    Blue_Lug_Blog_Header_OptimizedWe caught up with Tokyo's iconic Blue Lug bike shop Owner Toshihiro Ashikaga for a conversation about bike culture in Tokyo, the Blue Lug X Chrome bag collaboration, and why bikes, beer and girls are so damn important.

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    CHROME: What is the Blue Lug philosophy?

    TOSHI: Our ultimate goal is to support the cycling community of Tokyo; we hope by doing this we make everyone’s cycling life a little better.

    CHROME: What is unique about the shop and staff at Blue Lug?

    TOSHI: It sounds kind of funny to say, but our staff at Blue Lug is really one big family. Most of our employees were once loyal customers who eventually joined our team. Whether they were local messengers, or just cycling enthusiasts they are all avidly devoted to the cycling scene and are completely in love with bicycles.

    CHROME: How would you describe the bike culture and scene in Tokyo?

    TOSHI: Bicycles have been an important part of life in Tokyo for a very long time, however the type of bicycle people ride has changed significantly in recent years. For example, several years ago, like in many other cities, track bikes became exceptionally popular. The track bike phenomenon created a demand for shops like Blue Lug that specialize in unique bicycles. And while track bikes are still popular in Tokyo, the influx of specialty bicycles has increased the local cycling scene’s awareness of the global bicycle culture. Today, people in Tokyo ride everything from fat bikes to cyclocross to mountain bikes, and there always seem to be a great amount of excitement surrounding anything new and unique.

    CHROME: What is your favorite route to ride in Tokyo?

    TOSHI: By far my favorite ride in Tokyo would have to be through Shinjuku just before dawn. I love this ride because during the day Shinjuku in one of the most densely populated places on the planet, which makes riding a bicycle there nearly impossible. At dawn, however, you are alone with your bicycle. The streets are silent and empty, and the air is cool. You can ride as fast as you like without hesitation, which delivers an overwhelming feeling of tranquility and freedom. In my opinion there’s nothing quite like that sensation, and I would recommend that ride to any bike lover who visits Tokyo.

    CHROME: How did the collaboration with Chrome come about?

    TOSHI: We have always loved Chrome bags and have carried them in our shops for years. Our appreciation of Chrome was only strengthened as we began to make our own bags and realized just how well made and designed they were. Chrome bags are stylish but also extremely functional, something that every bag maker is, or at least should be, envious of. To show our admiration we humbly offered to collaborate on a bag with Chrome and were honored when they accepted.

    CHROME:  What were the ideas and main inspiration behind the bag collaboration?

    TOSHI: There are a few underlying themes with regards to design of the bag collaboration. The first and most obvious is the blue stitching, which is the official Blue Lug corporation color. The others theme, however, is a little less obvious. At the shop we always like to joke that the most important things in life are girls, bicycles, and beer, and we believe deep down everyone likely feels the same way. So, because we were a little hesitant, or perhaps shy, to say it directly we decided take a slightly more subtle approach and use a mirror image to express our love for girls, bicycles, and beer.

    The Blue Lug bag collection is USA Made and comes in three iconic Chrome silhouettes; Sentinel, Sotnik, and Victor. Although developed exclusively for Blue Lug shops in Tokyo, we’ve released a small batch stateside in each of our Chrome Retail HUBs.

    Find a Chrome HUB here >> 

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  • Wrenched Nation Tour | Tenth Stop: Austin

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    I have never been to Texas' capitol, Austin, before although I have heard nothing but good things about it. I have met people from Austin in Portland, where I live, and they either tell me that Austin and Portland are sister cities or Portland is ripping off Austin. Example: they both have the unofficial motto of "Keep Austin/Portland Weird" also Austin has SXSW and Portland has MusicFestNW. Other than those two things I would say Austin is less of a sister city and maybe more along the lines of a second cousin who sweats a lot. With a heat index ranging from 105-110, you'd be sweaty too. Continue reading

  • Wrenched Nation Tour | Intermission Stop: Dollywood

    We all have a bucket list right? A list of the things you want to do before die. At the top of mine sits the most wholesome of wholesome activities and it has been on my list since I was around six. dollywoodBehold.............. DOLLYWOOD! Oh gosh, where should I start? I guess I could start by telling you that Dollywood is a theme park in Pigeon Forge, TN that is owned by Dolly Parton. What I imagined of Pigeon Forge is it would be a sleepy little Tennessee town tucked away in the Smokey Mountains and Dollywood would be the biggest attraction. I was so far off, it wasn't even funny. I mean it, I wasn't laughing. Continue reading

  • Wrenched Nation Tour | Ninth Stop: Philadelphia

    lostI don't know about you, but I love Rocky. I mean LOVE love him. He's the most optimistic and humble sonofabitch on the planet. Sure, he's not really on the planet because he is a fictional character.... or maybe he is because I carry that character in my heart and I am on this planet. Hmmmmm..... excuse me, it's getting deep in here. Since I have grown up loving all of the Rocky movies I have seen Philadelphia's landscape many times, but have never physically been there... until now. The drive from New York City to Philadelphia was free of traffic and relaxing (please note sarcasm). In addition to Todd Danger, I brought Mike, of the Good Food fame, and his friend Matt along to Philly. NYC and Philadelphia isn't that far away from each other, it's just that there are millions and millions of people in between and that day it seemed they were all out on the road. Also, we were riding that heat wave so that made sitting in a black RV that much more enjoyable (again with the sarcasm). Once we got to Philly, I noticed the streets were just like what I thought Boston's streets would be, brick and narrow. At times I had to hop up on the sidewalk just so I could make it through. I could feel the boys cringing in the back, thinking we were going to hit something, but sistas are doing it for themselves. "Chill out dudes, I got this". Continue reading

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