Chrome Industries has updated its formula for city sneakers with forged rubber.
Resurrecting 70-year-old machines from Slovakia, the San Francisco-based brand directly fused the outsole to the canvas upper to prevent separation in a process of slow manufacturing.
Once known for its messenger bags and cycling shoes, Chrome believes its Forged Rubber offering of lifestyle footwear, retailing for $85, will elevate its place in the growing market of city dwellers.
Rob Reedy, a spokesman for the company, talked to FN about going back to basics to create durable sneakers.
1. How did the new line come about?
RR: We wanted to make the best city sneaker in the world, one that could withstand the demanding conditions of living and riding, skating and walking in the city.
2. Chrome is touting this as the "Best City Sneaker in the World." How will the product live up to its name?
RR: Our Forged Rubber sneakers are made by hand, one at a time. They provide a unique combination of durability, reflectivity and odor resistance. The sole is fused directly on to the upper using heat and pressure and will not come apart.
3. What was the process for creating the new line?
RR: We salvaged the machines from a factory in Slovakia, where they were originally used to make army boots. We refurbished [the machines] and moved them to Thailand, where the rubber trees are located and a factory has been making rubber-soled shoes for three generations. Rubber is harvested from a farm a few miles from the factory and must be used within five days before getting old.
The machines came with outsole tooling, which is very expensive to make, so we designed the sneakers around these outsoles. We selected 10-ounce canvas for the uppers because it offered the right balance of durability and breathability, added our signature reflective heel for night visibility, and included an antimicrobial sock liner so you can wear [the shoes] without socks.
4. You said this process is about slow manufacturing. Will Chrome's other lines be made this way, too?
RR: Slow manufacturing is about being intentional and transparent about how we make things. We use the best manufacturing solutions for the given application. Forged rubber is the best solution for all our city sneakers. But our waterproof sneakers and boots and our city speed shoes are made with different processes that allow us to deliver these unique benefits.
5. What's next for Chrome?
RR: Fewer features and more utility; continuing to make technical gear for people who live and ride in the city, commute, messenger, race, work — all the above.