Shop Tour: Chrome’s Portland Hub and #ChromeCustoms In-Store Bag Production

Chrome Customs Lara Kessler

Last year around this time we showed you the inner workings of Chrome’s US bag production in California. Now, 70% of their bags are sewn in the US. Chrome has taken it one step further with in store production.  You can customize one of their Mini-Metro, Citizen, or Barrage bags and have it sewn in store in just a matter of days. We recently had the chance to hang out at Chrome’s Portland hub and work up a custom bag sewn by Lara Kessler.

Thread the needle for details and images.

Chrome Customs Work Space

Chrome has launched retail hubs in San Francisco, Portland, New York, Chicago, and Seattle. While you can customize bags online, doing so in store affords you many more options. For instance, Chrome has sourced local fabrics where possible, patches are available, and seasonal colors can be found. Plus, the bag makers are genuinely excited about their job, and take pride in their work. I worked with Lara to design my custom Barrage. I wanted something pretty standard with a bit of a color pop. We went through some fabric options and settled on a mostly black bag with some very nice plaid Pendleton wool side panels and charcoal accents.  The bag turned out awesome, and you can expect a full review soon.

Chrome Customs Bag Collage

Taking it even one step further, Chrome is using the in store production of custom bags to further extend their military salvage program. Since ’95 they have been making bags from salvaged and reclaimed materials.  It started when they produced limited runs of messenger bags made from salvaged military fabrics. US Military personnel responded very positively, and inquired about having bags made from their personal items, such as duffle bags or fatigues.

Chrome Customs Salvage Bag

With the Chrome Custom Military Salvage Program, veterans, military families, members of law enforcement, and firefighters are invited to bring in their material (uniforms, fatigues, tents, duffels, etc.) to any of the Chrome retail hubs. There, one of the bag makers will work with the material to produce a custom one-off bag.

Comments

Rico - 05/26/14 - 3:27pm

This is fantastic. We need more encouragement of this type of spirit and entrepreneurship in the USA.

SB - 05/26/14 - 5:07pm

Uhhh… It wasn’t that long ago that Chrome bags were ALL made Stateside.

lonefrontranger - 05/26/14 - 7:02pm

agreed, and what’s with the complete lack of acknowledgement to their origins. They used to make their entire product line in-house in Denver; now they don’t even have a retail presence here.

I tried to send back a bag to them for repair and got a bunch of runaround plus it would have cost more in shipping than the bag is worth and turnaround was 2 months give or take. Granted the bag in question was over a decade old but back when I bought it, it was with the understanding that I could just run it over to the Denver shop and have it fixed within a couple days.

Unfortunately they became all the rage with the hipsters, bailed to San Francisco to get rich off the culture and outsourced all their production to China to make a buck. Quality really went downhill, and I’ve switched to ReLoad.

Cheese - 05/27/14 - 1:17am

No surprise that Chrome moved their manufacturing to China when Keen bought them considering 98% of Keen’s manufacturing is done there.

Speedy - 05/28/14 - 1:45pm

Then…Chrome listened to their customers and made a huge push to move everything they can back to the US. As they grow and can afford to buy more manufacturing equipment, more and more of their product will be made her. The fact that they are making these awesome bags, super local, with local fabrics is pretty rad IMO. I support this move, and can’t wait to see some of the neat custom creations they put out.

Psi Squared - 05/28/14 - 6:12pm

I love my 5 year old Chinese made Keen shoes.

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