By  on October 22, 2007

NEW YORK — California’s youthful Trovata brand opened its first retail store at the end of August in its hometown of Newport Beach, at 505 W. 31 Street. The 1,200-square-foot space previously served as Trovata’s design studio and headquarters, and has been transformed into a quaint and cozy destination that is meant to serve as much as a social center for the hip neighborhood as a retail boutique.

“I’ve wanted to open a store since day one. It really communicates what the brand stands for in its entirety, from the way the store is designed to the music we play, to the way we’ve filled it with interesting items that we’ve found in our travels,” said John Whitledge, president and creative director of Trovata. “We sell hydrangeas out front, and our cash wrap is a bar where we serve Brahma beer and caipirinhas—for free.”

The store, which is located two blocks from the beach and a stone’s throw from Newport Bay, is situated in a former boathouse. The shop maintains the structure’s original corrugated metal facade, with white curtains shading its windows. The inviting, quirky feel of the store is heightened by its offbeat mix of industrial lighting, vintage furniture and cots that serve as merchandise fixtures. Old fence posts line the walls and an irregular mix of hangers salvaged from hotels and flea markets display the Trovata men’s and women’s collections in antique wardrobes. A room in the rear is draped in safari tenting, with old surf films projected onto the fabric.

The shop was designed in collaboration with architect Jay Larsson of RNM Design, a Newport Beach–based firm.

“It’s a modern ’60s feel. We have a rotating roster of artists whose work we’re going to sell here. And in a few months we’re going to open up a 2,000-square-foot space in the back that will serve as an art gallery and a place to screen films for the local community,” said Whitledge, who now operates out of Trovata’s new headquarters nearby. The area is known more for its restaurants than for shopping, and a neighborhood café, The Alta, sits directly across the street from the Trovata store.

The new shop is mixed evenly between men’s and women’s collections. Apart from his own line, Whitledge has also merchandised the store with limited-edition books, old Polaroid and Super 8 cameras, vintage magazines (National Geographic, Playboy), Toms shoes and assorted flea-market finds.

Trovata was founded in 2002 out of Whitledge’s dorm room with three former partners who have since left the company: Josia Lamberto-Egan, Sam Shipley and Jeff Halmos. The latter two have since launched their own label, called Shipley & Halmos.

“The past seven months have been a lot of work and we’ve been restructuring,” said Whitledge, who has a silent financial partner in the label. “But now that everyone here is on the same page, it’s been very exciting and a lot easier.”

Trovata is currently sold in about 125 wholesale U.S. doors, including Barneys, Odin, American Rag and Apartment Number 9. Overseas, the brand is in about 100 doors, including Holt Renfrew and Harvey Nichols.

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