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In 1988, Stark and two friends, Leonard Kamhout and John Bowman, set out to create clothes for themselves and their motorcycle buddies to ride in. While their tough leather pants and perfectos were a hit amongst the motorcycle crowd, it was an unexpected gig doing costume design for a B movie, Chopper Chicks in Zombie Town, that pushed the fledgling brand into the fashion sphere. One of the actors introduced Stark to Sex Pistols lead guitarist Steve Jones, who immediately became a fan. Jones began to wear Stark's designs on stage, and soon enough bands from Heart to Aerosmith were lining up to don one of his signature all-leather fits with custom sterling silver hardware.
Although embraced by the fashion set, Stark & Co. remained at a safe distance, shunning seasons and expanding into accessories, home furnishings and custom orders all manufactured in their Los Angeles warehouse. A carpenter by trade with little knowledge of design, Stark nearly rejected his CFDA Award for Best Accessories Designer in 1992, mainly due to the fact that he had no clue who the CFDA was.
Stark and his business partners eventually had a falling out, and he and his wife Laurie took over the business. With the addition of Laurie—who handles all imagery and campaigns for Chrome Hearts—the Starks have expanded worldwide with flagship stores across the US, Europe and Asia, as well as a magazine released in Japan. With fans from Cher and Elton John to Karl Lagerfeld and Kanye West, and collaborations with everyone from Robert Mapplethorpe and Rick Owens to The Rolling Stones and Bape, Chrome Hearts has quietly been shaping the world of gothic-rock chic for nearly three decades.
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Whether its late winter or early spring, outerwear season presents the style-conscious set with some tough terrain to navigate. You want to turn heads, be quietly envied and ditch the heavy coats, all while not freezing your ass off. Invariably, you turn to the surety and safety of the leather jacket. Thankfully, there is no time like the present to score a timeless biker or bomber style, as countless designers have been offering up creative takes on the leather jacket since 2010. Here are our 10 favorites since the beginning of the decade. Do you have a favorite leather jacket style or go-to brand? Did we miss it here? Share with us in the comments below.
Lead image via Complex.
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