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Trovata

Trovata

Visit Trovata.com and you're met with a mysterious Quicktime movie that launches from the home page. Currently, there is a French narrative that tells the story of an extended family through old black and white images. But the story ends abruptly...presumably with more to tell, but that's all you get. There's nothing else to click on that might give additional clues to the story, or the family members contained therein. No information about the owners of the site either.

While this may not be the best illustration of web design, it does peak your interest...who is this family and why is someone so interested in telling their story? The answer lies with a Newport Beach-based clothing line that literally weaves stories into its garments: a note stitched under the cuff of a shirt, or an image hidden on the inside of a pocket flap. Each garment also has a pouch which carries a letter and sometimes a gift that further tell the story.

The idea for this unique company began 12 years ago when a 16-year-old John Whitledge decided he wanted to devote his life to travelling, surfing and being creative (who wouldn't?!). While working in a surf and skate shop, he decided to start his own clothing line along this idea. He told the Australian newspaper recently, "At first the idea was more of a surf clothing company, but in college I realised that was a pretty small and limited market...so I figured [I had] to make it more of a lifestyle company that had influences of surf, but also music, art and travel built into it."

True to his word, when Whitledge was studying at Pomona College in Claremont, CA, he teamed up with two buddies - fellow surfers and vintage clothes hounds - and began making clothing in their dorm rooms, partly out of frustration at not being able to find new clothes they wanted to wear.

And thus, their clothing line "Trovata" was born (Trovata means "to be found" in Italian, in homage to its thrift-store inspired origins). Every season brings a new story with complex narratives that are jointly created by the group and ultimately influence - and woven into - the clothing itself. Two recent lines are highlighted in the Australian:

  • Trovata's Pompous and Penniless range, for example, tells the tale of the Fitzgilberts, three generations of a once-mighty New England family struggling to maintain dignity as their fortunes decline in the 1950s.
  • Blue Collar Caribbean, an account of a native who grew up working in the cane fields but ended up on a luxury yacht, and Deviant Prep, the title of which is self explanatory, are among the other elaborate back-stories Trovata has concocted.

Whitledge told the newspaper, "Once we figure out where the collection will take place, we do a lot of research on that era: what people ate, the music they listened to, the influences on their daily lives. There are a lot of labels that make cool stuff, and there is nothing wrong with that, but when you tie it all together, in a way I think it makes it stronger."

Now 26, Whitledge has little time to surf these days; his clothing line has taken off and he travels the world to meet with buyers at retailers such as Barneys in New York, Colette in Paris and Harvey Nichols in London. He recently started a women's line, too, in response to increasing demand.

Now that's a great story.

Thanks to the folks at PSFK for alerting me to this one.

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