Trina Turk: Designer of playful prints moves into handbags

September 29, 2014

Los Angeles designer Trina Turk is launching her first comprehensive handbag collection for the fall season

Los Angeles designer Trina Turkís universe is ever-growing. For spring, she added shoes and activewear to her line. And landing in stores now for the fall season is her first comprehensive handbag collection.

Turk, who is known for playful prints and retro SoCal chic, recently hosted a poolside soiree at her home to celebrate the launch of the bags, which are priced from $158 to $598. We chatted with her about the details.

Why handbags?

Until now, we had been buying handbags from other resources. But we have 10 stores, and weíve seen that our customers want a Trina Turk bag. We had dabbled in making bags in-house in the past, but this time, we found a great L.A.-based partner, Signal Brands, which has expertise in the category. Theyíve been great to work with.

What was the starting point? I imagine you have a big collection of vintage bags.

We probably have about 100. Weíve been collecting bags for the 19 years weíve been in business. So we started by going through them all to spark ideas, which could just be a detail or a piece of hardware. We ended up dividing the collection into three categories. Essentials are your everyday, workhorse bags, like the Manhattan tote, which we did in various versions, one with a black-and-white woven texture, another in all leather and a third with a haircalf panel. The Luxe category is geared toward evening, with lots of clutches with specialty novelty materials. We did a group that incorporates chain mail mesh in matte black, silver and gold, which really references the 1970s, including a foldover clutch called the Kir Royal. The Sunset clutch is also a fun leather clutch with a wood handle. I like the mix of materials. Itís modern but also bohemian. And the third category is Sun, which is not as important for fall, but itís something we have developed to go into spring 2015.

What is your favorite feature on the bags?

My favorite feature is the big tassel. We worked on multiple tassels before we landed on the right one. It comes on some bags, but weíre also selling it separately as a clip-on or key fob.

Tell me about the color palette.

There is a lot of color-blocking and texture mixing. For example, the Modernista hobo is a colorblocked bag where one color is subtle and the other one bright. Since our clothing collection is very print and pattern heavy, we didnít want to also have print heavy bags, because that would be a hot mess.

Whatís new in shoes?

For fall, we have a lot more high heels and suede, which takes the color so nicely. The Laguna is a peep toe, high-heel mule with wing-like details, and it comes in this beautiful port-colored suede. And the Larkspur is a twist-front suede high-heel sandal that comes in bright loganberry or black. The shoes are made in Brazil.

New shoe and handbags styles are being released seasonally, along with your clothing collections. So what was the inspiration for your fall ready-to-wear collection?

Our fall ready-to-wear collection was conceived around the idea of driving down Sunset Boulevard from the Silver Lake community in East Los Angeles to the ocean, which is kind of cheating because that covers a lot of territory. Silver Lake is very bohemian, which echoes our early fall delivery. Then, as you drive through Hollywood, itís more urban with taller buildings, which ties into the geometric prints in our collection. Beverly Hills is very green and verdant and lush, which is represented by the exploding floral prints. Then you get to the beach.

Do you do that drive often?

Usually when someone is visiting from out of town. The drive does say a lot about what the city is; itís a mixture of everything.



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