By  on February 7, 2005

NEW YORK — Design collectives come together for any number of reasons — shared passions, college camaraderie and, in one instance, even a back-page magazine ad for a stick-on goatee — but they all subscribe to a simple theory that two heads are better than one. And three or more are better still.

Meet, then, the boys behind the Newport Beach, Calif.-based label Trovata — John Whitledge, Sam Shipley, Josia Lamberto-Egan and Jeff Halmos, who will show for the first time in New York on Wednesday. They’ll gladly tell you that, yes, four is, indeed, more.

“I think what’s important is the fact that we all started out as friends,” says Whitledge, the creative director of the classic-meets-vintage prepster collection. The quartet’s roots reach as far back as high school, where Whitledge and Halmos met; the others encountered them at college. The four launched a capsule men’s wear collection in their senior year, a mere three years ago, and their women’s wear will make its debut in stores this spring.

Surfers at heart, these boys work as hard as they play. The beach is only two blocks from their office space, but their collection of worn-in blazers and soft Ts seems only to have benefited from their lunch breaks spent riding the waves. They’ve set up a loose division of labor — Shipley, Lamberto-Egan and Halmos are in charge of art, production and sales, respectively — that they consider important to their group’s longevity. They also regard it as key to the success of any collective. “You have to make sure that you have a system in place,” Whitledge explains. “We all have our own areas of responsibility. Otherwise, I don’t think it would function.”

The surf itself might just be one of their trade secrets, because, halfway across the globe, there’s another collective of designers who hang 10 at least as much as they think about hanger appeal. Dan Single, George Gorrow and Gareth Moody make up the trio Tsubi, a Sydney-based label that’s been making waves since its first show at Mercedes Australian Fashion Week in 2001. That year, they sent 250 rats down the runway, and, despite a screen intended to keep them in, the rodents tumbled into the audience. Try that with New York’s Manolo-clad front row. “If you get a chance to do something and entertain people, you should,” says Gorrow. These designers clearly enjoy theatrics, although those aren’t reflected in their clothing itself — jeans, colorful hoodies worn with swinging skirts and flirty halter dresses.

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