Trina Turk launched her Banana Republic collaboration today with a shindig at the Union Square store in San Francisco. Folks were scooping up Ms. Turk’s colorful summery pieces like they were going out of style, which they totally were not. In particular the maxi dress in the photo below is pretty much never going out of style. It is SILK. You won’t find that in many designer collabs—they usually resort to poly or another synthetic to keep the price points low (this dress is $150—you can’t really do better for a long silk dress). I was impressed. I just wish I didn’t have so freaking many maxi-dresses already! Shoppers snapped up multiple pieces at a time and lines at registers were already long by 6pm, just an hour into the event. “I love seeing all these people with armloads of merchandise!” said Ms. Turk, who sat down with me for a brief chat just as the party was getting started. Here’s the rest of our chat:
What was the genesis of this collaboration?
Simon Kneen (Banana Republic Creative Director & EVP) had already been thinking about doing a Palm Springs inspired summer group, thinking about lots of print and lots of color, and the idea came up to contact us to collaborate because my company has become associated with Palm Springs and with print and with color. So of course for us it was an amazing way to reach a lot of people who had never heard of Trina Turk before. When they said they wanted it to be print and color and Palm Springs we were like, “Great, sign us up, let’s do it!”
So that explains how the Palm Springs inspiration came to be.
Yeah Simon was already thinking about Palm Springs. They had a story board that was built around Palm Springs. I don’t know at what point we became part of it but he contacted us early on and the timing worked out.
What did have you keep in mind to match your own aesthetic with Banana Republic’s?
One of the guiding factors was we wanted it to be print-centric—we wanted the whole thing to revolve around print. So I went into our archive. We do a lot of print so we probably have an archive of about 500 prints that we’ve run over the years that I’ve been in business. So I went through and picked out prints that to me were iconic Trina Turk prints but that also had been what I considered to be good sellers at retail. Then Simon and I got together and we just went through a big edit and weeded it down to the five that we finally settled on. Four of the five are very multi-color prints. Most of them have an organic, nature-inprired feeling to them. The only print that’s not multi-color is the Zazzy Zebra. We wanted a chic-sophisticated print for people wh aren’t going to wear some loud colorful print.
Who are the new customers you hope to be reaching?
It’s a combination of things. It’s people who have never heard of Trina Turk before—just the fact that Banana Republic has 450 stores in the united States that are going to have a little shop of the collection will definitely bring our name in front of people who have never seen it before. Then there’s a customer for whom Trina Turk is more aspirational. Like she can’t quite afford it yet, but this will allow her to have a piece of Trina Turk or two or three in her wardrobe at a more accessible price point. And then there are the hard core Trina Turk fanatics who are the ones who were on Gilt Groupe the moment the sales went up last week buying all the merchandise. So the main thing is just that a lot of new eyes are going to be on Trina Turk. And the photography and the presentation really tells the story of the brand. So if someone knows nothing about Trina Turk, I think if they look at this collection they will understand a little bit about who we are.
What’s your favorite piece in the collection?
The shorts. The crazy botanical shorts!
(Check out the entire collection!)
You have a shop in Burlingame, do you have any plans to move into San Francisco proper?
We have a list of probably 20 stores where we’d like to go in, and San Francisco is definitely on the list.
Where do you find inspiration to create your beautiful prints?
Well, we work in many ways. A lot of the prints are inspired by vintage garments. A lot are inspired by vintage artwork that we purchase from companies who have archives of print companies. There are artists who do original artwork specifically or print design. But we can work off of anything. We can work off of a scrap of paper from a tear sheet from a magazine. It could be anything that sparks an idea for a print. We work with really great textile designers who put it into repeat and make it work. Honestly anything could be the beginning of a print. It could be something like his floor or anything. We are on the lookout all the time.
Do you often come up with the ideas for prints yourself?
The ones that are interpreted from something that’s not already in textile form, yes. Sometimes, for example, last year we did a group inspired by the painter Wayne Thiebaud, the California painter. There was just something about the way he used color that we ended up interpreting. He’s the guy who’s really well known for painting like delicatessen cases with cakes in them. But it was more about his color sense and hand than it was about making cakes. A lot of it is also about putting prints together that can be a family. You can’t just put any old prints together and have it make a cohesive presentation and I think that’s one of the things that really works nicely about this collaboration. Each print is very different but they can all live together and work together.
That must be kind of a challenge.
I feel like that’s the fun part.
Awesome. You seem to be a true Southern California girl. Do you come to Northern California often and how do you feel about it?
Well I was born in San Francisco and I lived in San Jose when I was a little kid through 5th grade. Honestly I’m a California cheerleader. I think that Southern California and Northern California are quite different from each other but that’s what makes it so great. There’s a slightly different attitude and a slightly different vibe going on, but I guess the thing that’s good is it’s all fairly relaxed, and kind of open minded, which I think is a great thing. And hopefully that comes through in the clothes!
It definitely does, for sure! (said the girl who grew up in Pennsylvania)