This Japanese Brand Said, “Chrome Hearts Who?”

When Virgil Abloh wears an imitable piece of clothing, it sells out. And once it sells out, resale skyrockets and the cycle repeats. However, when it comes to reclusive luxury label Chrome Hearts, celebrity co-signs aren’t necessary: its wares are hard enough to find as is, especially given that they’re available only in uber-limited numbers.

Abloh’s favorite Chrome Hearts pieces, besides his collaborative bench and tees, may just be the leather-patched jeans. Comprised of vintage Levi’s, there’s more than mere upcycling going on here.

Specifically, there’s something to be said for the craft: they’re almost always comprised of vintage Levi’s stitched with layers of thick leather crosses, with the rivets, buttons, and other hardware replaced by silver Chrome Hearts finery and the cuts often refined with a taper or flare. I can’t really say that this alone justifies the four-to-five-figure cost but you’re really paying for the label here, just like with every luxury imprint.

Plenty of fans have thus sought out cheaper imitations and delved into DIY for the sake of saving a few (thousand) bucks. Enter Bru Na Boinne.

Founded in 1997, Bru Na Boinne is an Osaka-based imprint that specializes in hardy workwear. Bru Na Boinne is especially respected for its experiments in leather and reconfigured denim jeans, so its latest delivery isn’t entirely out of its wheelhouse, but it is preeeeetty familiar-looking.

Bru Na Boinne’s Black Flower jeans, from the label’s Fall/Winter 2021 collection, are definitely not a one-to-one Chrome Hearts rip-off nor are they really pretending to be. Bru Na Boinne has used flower (and ladybug) motifs for years and it’s quite adept at cooking up premium denim jeans with bespoke washes and distressing. But the Black Flower jeans seem to take a least a couple cues from the inimitable Chrome Hearts cross jeans.

Though they sport classic blue-collar rivets and buttons, instead of fancy silver ones, Bru Na Boinne’s jeans feature layered black leather flowers — not quite a cross but kinda similar to that four-pointed shape. Some of the flowers are even layered atop each other which, again, recalls the Chrome Hearts jeans. Plus, the faux-vintage treatment applied to the denim recalls the wear and tear of well-worn Levi’s.

All that being said, one could probably also argue that the Bru Na Boinne jeans are actually more desirable than the Chrome Hearts pairs: they’re cut slimmer (if that’s your thing), are made in Japan of fine Okayama denim, weigh in at a mere ¥33,000 (approximately $300), and are comparably easier to get: just proxy from Japan.


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