Trina Turk talks handbags, tassels and drive-time inspiration

Trina Turk talks handbags, tassels and drive-time inspiration
Pieces from the new Trina Turk handbag collection. (Trina Turk)

Los Angeles designer Trina Turk's universe is ever growing. For spring, she launched shoes and activewear. 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 Midcentury Modern Los Feliz home to celebrate the new launch. 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 we've 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, who have expertise in the category. They've 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. We've been collecting bags for the 19 years we've 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. I like the size of it, although the bigger the bag, the more stuff you throw in and shlep.

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, it's modern but also bohemian.

And the third category is Sun, which is not as important for fall, but it's something we have developed to go into spring 2015. With our swimwear and our resort connotation for the brand, we feel like that is going to be an amazing category.

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 we're 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 color-blocked bag where one color is subtle and the other one bright. Since our clothing collection is very print and pattern heavy, we didn't want to also have print heavy bags, because that would be a hot mess!

What's new in shoes?

The shoes we started with for spring had a pretty casual, pool party vibe. 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 Silver Lake 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, it's 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; it's a mixture of everything.

Trina Turk handbags, $158 to $598, at department stores and specialty boutiques nationwide, including Trina Turk stores and

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