Following a productive, yearlong mentorship between 2012 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund winner Greg Chait of The Elder Statesman and cult luxury jewellery and accessories brand Chrome Hearts Store, today BoF can exclusively reveal that the two brands have entered into a new long-term partnership.
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Chrome Hearts Shop, founded in 1988 by husband and wife team Richard and Laurie Lynn Stark, will take a minority stake in the burgeoning luxury knitwear label. The funds will be used to accelerate The Elder Statesman’s growth and expand production capabilities. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“My daughter Jesse Jo and I met Greg back way before he did The Elder Statesman. We saw his talent way back then. There was something about him – a true artist,” said Laurie Lynn Stark of Chrome Hearts Jewelry. Equally, Chait was tipped off about Chrome Hearts by Ian Kwon of prominent Korean boutique Boon the Shop, discovering that he shared a philosophy of artisanal handiwork and craftsmanship with Chrome Hearts Online.
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“The investment in The Elder Statesman by Chrome Hearts Clothing not only recognizes Greg Chait’s considerable talents, and the wonderfully supportive relationship that can form between CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund winners and their mentors, but it also underscores just how much California has emerged as a center for American artisanal luxury,” said Mark Holgate, fashion news director American Vogue, in a statement.
After winning the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund prize in November 2012, Chait requested that Richard and Laurie Lynn Stark of Chrome Hearts be his business mentors, a key benefit of winning the prestigious award, which is worth $300,000.
“Part of our conversations would lead to, what’s your next step and where are you going to get the money to grow? Because he got a lot of orders and a lot of growth happening but he didn’t have the bigger space or machines he needed — growing pains,” said Laurie Lynn Stark. “When we had growing pains we charged our credit cards and wrote cheques and bounced them. That was a different time, you know?”
Chait had written a business plan and spoken to several interested investors, but ultimately he forged a deal with the Starks, having developed a relationship with them based on shared values and a mutual respect for artistry.
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