We here at Magnetic are big on gear, whether it's DJ equipment, camping, travel, or apparel; we like stuff that can take a beating. We are always on the lookout for brands that can keep up with our readers and staffers' lives. However, these days we are sticking local and trying to stay safe from this nasty pandemic situation - ugh.
We are still biking, camping, and shooting photos in the urban wild (wearing our masks, of course), and Chrome Industries is one of our go tos for durable bags, shorts, jackets, and tees.
So we decided to road test one of their merino hoodies in the high country on a recent camping trip and got the chance to catch up with their President and Chrome OG, Steve McCallion, for a quick Q&A about the brand.
Merino Hoodie - If you are not familiar with this fabric, you need to get up on it, because it's perfect for everything. This thin hoodie layer is ideal for layering under a shell or for cooler mornings or evenings. It is comfortable, lightweight, and easy to care for; this is one of our go-to staples for unpredictable Spring and Fall weather.
Chrome makes a variety of merino apparel, from heavier hoodies to tees, all of which will last for years. The garments are tough, don't have to be washed a lot as merino is resilient and odor repellant, and great travel companions allowing you to pack less and go lighter.
Q&A with Steve McCallion - Creative Director, CMO/CPO, President
Brand Story: Chrome Industries was established in 1995 with a Juki sewing machine, a few yards of military-grade fabric, and seat-belt buckles cut out of old cars. The mission was simple: Create bombproof bags that are practical and functional for the urban cyclist. Chrome's iconic messenger bag with a quick-release buckle was born. Over the years, Chrome has continued to develop useful and durable gear for people who live and ride the city. Street-tested by professional messengers, urban commuters, and city explorers. Chrome is all about living at the intersection of creativity, resourcefulness, community, and grit. Where art, music, photography, bike, moto, and skate collide. Chrome makes bags, footwear, and apparel that adapt to the changing and unpredictable nature of the city. Chrome also operates its HUB retail stores and custom shops in major cycling markets in the US and Japan.
CHROME is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Please tell us about your future plans for Chrome?
Steve McCallion - We're proud of our 25-year history, but rather than rest on our accomplishments of the past, we're charging into the future. We're tapping our heritage as a streetwear brand with roots in bike, skate, and surf to make useful gear for folks who live in the city. Beyond bike, we're expanding our range to include commute, travel, and photography. Examples include BLCKCHRM 22X using the latest technologies and materials, a new line of 2-way and 3-way totes, new technical shorts and pants, and waterproof boots. Beyond product, we're launching our Citizen Chrome Grant to support people making our cities better places to live, relaunching our Chrome Hubs, expanding our Familia ambassador program, launching our New Spring Don't Look Book, and kickstarting our Chrome Artist Series with Jun and Squid Bikes.
The OG collection celebrating the 25th anniversary has been released, can you tell us a bit about it, and what do you think of the bag trends in the future?
SM - It's back to the future! The things we carry and how we carry them in and around the city continues to evolve, but utility never goes out of style. The messenger bag is one of the most functional bags ever made. It's comfort, accessibility, versatility, weatherproofness, and durability are good for all. As technology continues to change the way we work, the role of the messenger has changed. Today, we are all messengers! We're using this same thinking to make super useful totes and smaller slings. Multimodal, faster, and lighter.
This is your second tour of duty as President at Chrome, why did you return to the brand?
SM - We had unfinished business! 60% of the world's population will be living in cities by 2030. Yet cities are becoming more congested and expensive to live in. Chrome has the opportunity to make it easier for people to work and play in the city. We call it the Urban Outdoors. We see a lot of people focused on adventuring far. Chrome is about discovering the near. Knowing your city and making the best out of any situation. Being resourceful and creative. We want to share that attitude with everyone … that's why I came back.
Chrome has moved the headquarters to Portland. What is the reason you chose the place?
SM - Portland is a creative hub that attracts some of the top talents in the US and the world. It's home to the global headquarters of Nike, Columbia, and Weiden & Kennedy, as well as the North America HQ of Adidas. Portland offers the perfect balance of city, outdoors, and a strong making ethos. It inspires us to live the city every day.
Tell us a bit about your target audience for the brand? What exactly is a New Urbanite?
SM - New Urbanites are the third wave of people living in the city. The first wave came to work in factories. Then they moved to the suburbs to get away from the dirt and pollution of the city. Now people are moving back to cities because of the creative energy and diversity of the city. These are the New Urbanites. They are looking to explore their cities and discover new art, music, food, architecture, and more.
Tell us a little bit about Chrome Hubs? What are the reasons for selecting an area and the role and significance of each city's HUB in Chrome?
SM - Chrome Hubs are places where people can gather, get expert advice, make custom bags, and discover their cities. We locate our Hub's in cities known for their creative energy and diversity. This includes Portland, NYC, San Francisco, Chicago, Tokyo, and Osaka. Places and people that inspire us to live the city every day.
What's the philosophy behind Chrome products?
SM - Chrome is about making useful gear for living in the city. We call it Urban Utility™. Chrome is not about fast fashion. We make tools to help people live and play in the city. We ask ourselves these simple questions: Is it useful? Is it durable? Is it simple? Is it versatile? And finally … is it badass! Then it is Chrome.
What kind of usage do you want people to use Chrome bags?
SM - People use Chrome bags for EVERYTHING! On and off the bike. It's about mobility and carrying your stuff through the city. People carry their dogs to the park, beer to a party, camera equipment to a shoot, books to school, laptops to coffee shops. They go by train, by bike, by board, and by foot. We are definitely known for our bike bags, but we make bags for all kinds of modalities and carrying all types of life.