Fashion’s Surfer Dudes

Photo: Eric McNatt

L.A. may have its own Fashion Week, but for aspiring Los Angeles designers New York remains the place to show. On February 9, at the National Arts Club, a West Coast collective called Trovata will be showing for the first time in this city. They make preppy sportswear rooted in sloppy-Wasp fantasies. Amy Larocca spoke with Trovata, which consists of four guys in their twenties who live in the O.C. and really like to surf.

Describe the Trovata look.
Jeff Halmos:
Each season is based on a story. We create characters. We think about what they do, eat, listen to. Our first season was about a surfer kid who gets shipped to a New England boarding school. We’re very California–meets–the–East Coast.

And the new story?
This season is “Pompous and Penniless.” It’s a family reunion in Paris in 1959. The Fitzgilbert family, led by Iron John Fitzgilbert, made its money in the candy business. He turns the business over to his son Garrett, and now the fortune is in decline. So Iron John holds a family reunion. We have Carol, his wife, who married for money and is now bitter—
John Whitledge: You’re telling it wrong! Iron John’s got some kids. It’s a wardrobe for four of the children from three generations.

Don’t you worry that the preppy revival is losing some steam?
Sam Shipley:
We don’t actually like to say “preppy.” We like to say “classic pieces that have never gone out of style.”

Do any of you have any formal design training?
We don’t have any fashion training. We shipped our first season out of a dorm room, but we had good customers, like Barneys. After everything sold, we thought, Why not?
John: I think it gives us an advantage. We don’t understand the technical aspects of garment construction, so we’re not boxed in.

Fashion’s Surfer Dudes