On the east side of LA a tight-knit crew of makers are churning out magic from the end of their vintage sewing machines. They work with focused attention in a meditative trance, but what they are making is anything but quiet. In a world of todays fast fashion, styles that change overnight, and customers on a hunt for a “deal” the Chain Gang has a different perspective.
The exterior of their nondescript studio is quite the juxtaposition to what they make inside. There’s no fancy robotic computerized sewing machines here, but rather a row of chain stitch sewing machines dating as far back as the late 1800s, and these machines have as much character as the designs they make.
Founded in 2011 by long time chain stitchers Tommy D, Tul Jutargate and Ed Hernandez, Chain Gang’s mission is to preserve and grow this esoteric art form that has deep roots in the LA low rider and hot rod communities. Most recently the Chain Gang has also broke into the fashion world in an equally unique and authentic way.
Like all things great, word of mouth travels fast and it wasn’t long until CG caught the eye of some major players. Its not uncommon to walk into their studio and see your finished piece, sitting next to an order for Pharrell or next to a stack of crew jackets for the Rolling Stones tour. Each time I visit the shop I get a sneak peak at a new collaboration thats pushing the boundaries with like minded brands and clients.
The CG likes to keep it diverse with the the services they offer, a client might come in for a complete custom letterman jacket that has hours of custom stitch work, or another might simply want their nickname in script added to their vintage denim trucker. The gang applies the same love to everything they touch, and when you leave you feel like you have something worthy of passing on to another generation rather than the next “buy-back” clothing store.
Chain stitching has risen in popularity and the rise in the number of “chain stitchers” has seemed to grow overnight. This doesn’t bother CG. Not only does their sheer experience and dedication to the craft put CG in a different league, when you buy anything handmade you are paying for their experience and taste level, which CG has in spades.
The links in their chain are growing too. Along with the 3 founders, Chiharu, Kyle and Fernando joined forces to keep up with their growing demand for custom work. While styles keep changing overnight the CG will keep doing what they do, because passion and craft always stand the test of time.