Jul 20, 2017 | By Samuel Trotman
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Jan 12, 2015
With deep roots in Los Angeles’ cult car and bike club culture, Tommy D of East LA’s The Chain Gang is passionate about keeping the vanishing art of chain stitching alive. To celebrate the heritage craft and showcase their residency at local LA denim store Lot, Stock and Barrel, Tommy D and his team get a highlight through this short video.
While traditional chain-stitch embroideries may have its roots in simple decorative stitching from the late 1800s, the most iconic use of the craft owes itself to the club jackets of 1950s rebel motorcycle gangs. Back in those early days, these insignias or jacket patches signified the pinnacle of aspirational masculinity and had to be rightfully earned. Each patch would be a work of art, carefully crafted by a skilled embroiderer on vintage machines.
Apart from a few industrial applications, machine-sewn chain-stitch has largely vanished – but in East LA, The Chain Gang are keeping this art alive through custom patches for petrol and vintage heads alike. Tommy D and his two partners Tul Jutargate and Ed Hernandez, take custom orders from all over the world, creating each design by hand, one at a time, the traditional way. The three artists are based out of a studio, which also happens to be the headquarters and garage for legendary Los Angeles motorcycle builder Trevelen Rabanal and his company Super Co. Recently the team took up a residency at vintage store Lot, Stock and Barrel where they have been producing custom pieces on denim, military and collegiate jackets.
To celebrate the collaboration, the team at Lot, Stock and Barrel recently produced this short documentary on the guys to showcase the passion, integrity and most of all fun that is inherent to the spirit of The Chain Gang.
If you’d like to keep up to date on the brand follow them on Instagram @chaingang_la. Below are some recent shots of their work and collaborations.
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