Chrome retail store, walks a customer through
the ordering process.
(Photos J. Maus/BikePortland)
In a town where so many people get around by bike or transit, having a good (and waterproof) bag is essential. That’s probably one reason why Chrome opened up a retail store here two years ago (to go along with existing stores in Chicago, New York City, Seattle, and San Francisco (their hometown).
Now the company, known for its iconic messenger bags and roots in courier culture, is touting their ability to offer custom bags sewn and stitched as customers watch.
Chrome spokesman Billy Sinkford said Chrome has offered custom bags in the past via their online store, but they’ve only beefed up the custom program at the retail level in the past two years. Sinkford said the in-store custom option is a way for Chrome to strengthen their connection to local customers. “It’s about integrating deeper into the community… We want people using bags they’re stoked to use.”
It’s safe to assume that people will like something more if they actually had a hand in designing in. On that note, Chrome offers a dizzying array of options for its custom bags. You can choose from three bags: a “Mini Metro Messenger” ($160), a “Citizen Messenger” ($180) or a “Barrage” backpack ($200). (Surprisingly, the price for a made-to-order bag is just $20 more than retail for the stock version.) Then you can mix and match over a dozen fabric colors to create a distinct look.
Other customization options include different buckles, velcro colors, patches, and buttons. You can even bring in your own material. Sinkford, the Chrome spokesman, said they’ve even made custom bags from military uniforms brought back from tours of duty. And yes, they offer a discount for veterans.
Each Chrome retail store (a.k.a. “Hubs”) has an in-house sewing operation, but each location gets fabric and other materials from local sources. The Portland store for instance, is currently offering a special run of fabric from Pendleton Woolen Mills (based in eastern Oregon).
At the Portland store, full-time seamstress Lara Kessler will likely be the one to put it all together. She told me it me takes about 2-3 hours of labor to create one of the bags. After I choose my fabrics and colors, Lara started cutting the pieces and laying them out. Then she took to her “Juki” sewing machine and began the building process.
A few days later, my new bag was ready. What do you think?
I have to admit, I was a bit overwhelmed by all the fabric choices so Lara helped come up with the design. If this looks interesting to you, swing by the Chrome store (425 SW 10th Ave) and contemplate customization for yourself.