As a California local, it comes as no surprise then that Trina Turk’s collections are inspired by the sunny state with its mix of optimism and creativity with clothing that perfectly reflects this happy disposition. Established in 1995 by Trina and her late husband, photographer Jonathan Skow as a women’s contemporary line, the brand has evolved into a print and color-driven lifestyle label, complete with accessories, plus swimwear, eyewear, paper goods, a Mr. Turk menswear collection, and residential goods.
How did you get into the fashion industry?
My mother taught me to sew at age 11 and showed me that you didn’t have to follow the sewing patterns as they came; you could change them and customize them – which was a huge revelation to me. As soon as I learned you could have a career as a fashion designer, I decided that was what I was going to do.
I graduated from the University of Washington with a BA in Apparel Design– when they still had that program. My first job out of school was at Brittania Jeans in the early 80s, and my second job was at Ocean Pacific.
Being an entrepreneur and designer allows me to combine all my interests: pop cultural trends, the arts, architecture and design, color, and textiles.
When and how did your brand come about?
After years of designing clothing for others, I created the Trina Turk brand in 1995. My goal was to create a brand reflecting vibrant, optimistic, California-modern style, balanced with effortless, everyday pieces.
How would you sum up the look of your brand?
The colors, prints, and patterns that we’ve become so well known for are primarily inspired by living in southern California—the light, landscape, architecture, and climate. I’m also very inspired by the prints and colorations from the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Although the brand reflects the lifestyle of California, my travels also inspire my designs. Our collections are designed for women to feel confident, stylish, and vibrant, whether they are traveling, relaxing at the beach, attending an event, or enjoying the everyday.
My goal these days is to spend as much time as possible on the creative part of the company. In the early days, I did everything. My biggest challenge has been letting go and letting people do their jobs. I cannot know about every little thing anymore, so instead, I focus on the brand–which is more fun anyway.
What’s your career highlight to date?
I’m always proud to see women on the street, on a beach or poolside, in a meeting, or at an event looking great in my clothes.
What are the core values of your label?
Optimism is key to the brand, and we express optimism through prints and color.
What advice would you give to budding designers?
The most important thing is to stick to who you are. There is so much information out there now about different fashion trends. It’s almost an overwhelming amount of information. As a designer, you’ll see many trends and think, “This is cool,” but then you’ll need to pull back and say, “Is it on brand?”
Learn all aspects of the craft well, starting with how to sew and all about textiles. Work in the apparel industry and soak up all you can about the business from others. There is much more to it than just designing a few nice garments.
Where can we shop for it?
You can shop Trina Turk and Mr. Turk online at trinaturk.com and in our boutiques in northern California, southern California, Atlanta, Georgia, and Dallas, Texas.