Banana Republic made a splash with the colorful Trina Turk 60-piece capsule collection at its flagship store in SF last Thursday, June 7, and it was definitely a party! With fruity drinks, cotton candy, and the tropical styles seen all over the walls (seriously, who knew you could bring sunny Palm Springs to cloudy San Francisco?), we could not be more happy to be surrounded by the bold tropical prints, floral-print tops, adorable printed shorts, and beach ready maxi dresses. We spoke with the sweet SoCal designer Trina Turk about her collaboration with Banana Republic. Find out this vibrant designer’s favorite color and her secret hobby!
What did you want to do as a kid?
I wanted to be a fashion designer as soon as I learned how to sew at about age 11. I didn’t even know what that meant at the time, but I decided that I wanted to be a fashion designer.
Do you remember what your first sewing machine was like?
My mom taught me how to sew and I used hers at the time, but it was nothing fancy. My first projects were halter tops where you sewed two different fabrics together with the tie behind your neck. I made tons of those halter tops.
That would totally be a hit right now!
For my very first collection, I did a version of that top in a solid silk in these really bright colors, and it actually did sell.
What was it like working with Banana Republic?
It was really fun. It was sort of more than anything an editing process. I worked with Simon Kneem, who’s the creative director of Banana Republic, and we had ideas for the prints and the styles that we needed, so it was really a matter of narrowing down. Before I met with Simon, I went in to our Trina Turk archives. Because we do a lot of prints, we have a pretty big print archive. So I pulled probably like twenty five prints that I thought might fit into the collaboration. Then I met with Simon, and we weeded it down to what we felt were the five prints that we thought would work for the collection. We pulled our color story from the botanical print. We did the one black and white one for people who don’t want to wear crazy color. We thought we shouldn’t do all multi-color. We wanted to do at least one that was quiet and chic as opposed to the brightness of the other ones. Honestly, it was a really easy project and it came together really quickly. So some of the styles are Trina Turk styles, and some of the styles are Banana Republic styles.
From your collection, what would you say is your favorite Banana Republic style?
The safari jacket [that I’m wearing]. It’s a feminine version that Banana Republic is actually known for.
We’ve heard that you have a home in Palm Springs.
We have a home in Palm Springs. We live in LA. We go out to Palm Springs as much as our schedules allow.
What do you think are the defining characteristics of a California girl?
I guess a sense of optimism. I think the thing that’s great about California and what’s been great about having a business here is that there really aren’t a whole lot of rules and it’s not strict like it is sometimes in the East Coast. I feel like California just has this very open minded kind of attitude and I think the open mindedness and the optimism would be two characteristics.
How do you think the California girl is translated into your collection?
Color is inherently optimistic. Wearing color is sort of an emotional lift. A lot of times when you wear something colorful people will talk to you. People will engage in conversation with you. It’s actually kind of amazing in a way. You become more noticeable somehow if you wear print or color. I think that obviously the sense of optimism pervades the entire collection. It’s a very happy collection, especially in the summertime when people want to go on vacation and have a good time!
Do you have a favorite color?
That’s a really hard question. I don’t have children but it’d be like asking me which of my children is my favorite child. I love pretty much every single color. The only colors that are not really my favorite are the sort of grayed down, muted colors, but the thing about those is that they work really well with a print. Like even though they don’t really work as a solid, they might be just what you need in a print. I guess if I had to pick one color, I’d say bright corally pink.
What plans do you have for the Trina Turk brand after this?
Right now we’re not really doing our own accessories, so we would like to do handbags, sunglasses, and shoes. We’d also like to do some international expansion. Right now our distribution is in the United States, and just because there’s been so much going on as a company we haven’t addressed international yet. It’s a huge thing to tackle so it’s definitely on the list. We have a menswear line that’s called Mr. Turk, which my husband designs for, so that’s another area where we want to grow in. We started doing things for the home that are called Trina Turk Residential— so beddings, pillows, accessories for the home which has just now started.
So do you and your husband have the same look on fashion?
Not always. Usually we agree, but we don’t always agree. But it’s a creative partnership. Actually having somebody to talk about aesthetic descisions with is a great thing. And somebody’s opinion who you truly respect.
Is there something you guys will forever disagree on?
He doesn’t like bananas, and I do.
Like print or like actual bananas?
No, actually bananas. We kind of grew up together, so we have a lot of references from the past. I would say like 95% of the time we agree, and the 5% we don’t agree we just duke it out.
Who usually wins?
I’d say it’s half and half.
So are you vacationing anywhere?
We’re trying to decide where we want to go and there’s so many places on the list! We’re thinking of going to London, not really because of the Olympics, but just because there’s so much stuff going on in London and we haven’t been there for a while. I’d also really like to go to Berlin because there’s a lot of interesting things going on there. The other thing we were talking about is doing a road trip through the North East part of the country just because of different architectural homes that I’d really love to see, like Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water, Philip Johnson’s Glass House. There’s this house outside Chicago called Farnsworth house. Architecture is sort of a hobby of mine—not that I design buildings! Mostly like modern architecture. So we were talking about doing this weird road trip through the north east. We don’t know what we’re doing yet, but we’ll be making that decision soon.
View the limited-edition Trina Turk collection for Banana Republic. Prices vary from $35-150.
By Amethyst Wang
Photos by Libby Kusuma