I had the absolute pleasure of spending a few day with Briana Thomas at her Chrome NYC custom bag creating laboratory about a year ago. We had a good conversation as I drank a tasty Brooklyn IPA and she added a notch on her belt for another custom Chrome bag created. As I’m sure you could imagine… we talked about the Ride x Create vibe I’d been spreading throughout the city, she dug it, and we’ve been in contact ever since.
Some ideas hit me later than others… this is one of them. About two weeks ago my over thought processing… thought process, connected properly and “Interview Briana Thomas” popped out (imagine a factory line in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory).
Briana and I had already been talking about [potentially] creating a small run of FOLLY x Chrome Artist Series bags (something similar to this), with custom art by Kyle Steed (our creative dude) ((Please pipe in FOLLY folks if this is something you’d like to see become a reality)); and I expressed “it would be very rad to interview you.” Briana responded with a good ol’ “of course! sounds great!”, and here we are today!
Without further delay… Here’s a little inside look at the very rad Chrome custom bag creator… Briana Thomas:
What does your typical day look like?
Typically I’m working on a custom bag order, sewing our custom messenger bags for a customer who wants a special colorway/fabric. That, combined with a sprinkling of people coming in for repairs/small alterations to their older Chrome bags.
How long have you been sewing?
I’ve been sewing since I was 15. My mom taught me on my grandmother’s sewing machine and it’s been with me ever since through college, and several moves. It’s a beast but it never fails me.
What brought you to NYC?
I came to NYC to go to college at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Originally for evening wear design but I ended up here at Chrome, total opposite, but it’s been amazing.
Where is your favorite place to get good food?
The tortilla factory (Los Hermanos) in Bushwick! It’s a tortilla factory that runs a small taco/torta place in the side garage. It’s awesome.
What inspires you in and outside of Chrome?
I think what inspires me personally also works really well inspiring me here at Chrome, maybe that’s why it’s such a good fit. I’m really inspired by traditional mens workwear, functional details, quality made vintage garments (mostly men’s garments) and industrial furniture. Personally and professionally these definitely cross over.
What is your primary role with Chrome? Do you help out in areas other than sewing?
Most definitely. This is what I love most about Chrome. It’s a very tight knit company and they really do their best to utilize every one’s skills to the fullest. I help with everything from mood boards and color stories for upcoming bags, limited custom bag fabric options (heavy duty wax canvas right now by the way, check it out) and even some designs for our apparel.
Do you ever sneak in a little custom radery with bags you sew?
About a year ago a lady got a custom bag for her long distance boyfriend, she was going to send it to him for Valentine’s Day. I sewed their initials and a little red cordura heart inside a front pocket and told her I’d put something sweet on the bag that he’d have to look for. He found it eventually and they both loved it. They came in again not too long ago and they’re engaged now! I thought that was really sweet.
Chrome is a very “arms wide open” type crew. Do you ever struggle to keep that vibe going or does it all flow pretty naturally?
It flows so naturally. With or without alcohol hah. Especially here at my own store in NY. Everyone has their moments, but I’ve met so many great people; people who’ve come in from other places (Folly!) and locals who stop by all the time. I would have never had the opportunity to meet so many great people without having this job, it really requires you to engage and be out of your comfort zone.
What is your most/least favorite part about living in the city?
My most favorite part is getting around by bike. My least favorite is getting around by bike. I love it for the wonderful moments you have, riding across the Williamsburg bridge at midnight all alone over the water. Beating heavy traffic and congested sidewalks. I hate it for the horribly hectic moments like cab drivers running you off the road, or someone throwing a Twinkie wrapper out of their window and it hitting you in the face (seriously). I also love it for its many Halal trucks.
Our tag line is “Ride x Create”; have you noticed a deeper creative connection between folks that ride vs. those that don’t?
Oh of course. I think that people who ride may generally be more willing to take risks, to do things a little differently and like a challenge (just saying that makes me think of my commute) and those things and creativity go hand in hand, hell, they basically define creativity, yeah? I have so many people who come in and have so. many. ideas. I wish I could realize every one of them!
If you had to give someone unlimited high fives, who would it be and why?
This was the hardest question to answer. Ugh I could give so many deserving people unlimited high fives. I could obsess over this forever so I’m going to go ahead and say Sal who works the organic juice bar in the grocer near my house. Sal can make four juices at a time and deals with a lot of demanding hungover hipsters every day with a smile. He is so awesome and cool and amazingly positive. He also insists on putting more vegetables into people’s juices (whether they like it or not) Sal is the best.
Which bag is your daily carry, why and did you make it?
Shamefully, it is not a Chrome bag. But, my boyfriend loves, loves, loves his Soyuz. I love my Ivan for travelling. Truthfully though, I’m super minimal day to day and carry an old leather Mexican saddle bag that was my mom’s. It’s over 50 years old and looks brand new. Gotta love that.
There you have it FOLLY folks! 12 questions with 12 rad answers from the Ride x Create vibe filled Briana Thomas! I hope you enjoyed and will also check out Briana’s “Meet The Makers” profile over at Chrome.
Also, stayed tuned to Chrome and the release of their “limited custom bag fabric options” Briana is currently working on. I promise you won’t be disappointed!
Till next time
RIDE x CREATE