Art & Soul

by Shannon Kelley Gould

For the three-man (okay, two-man, one-woman) show that is Trinity Tropics, fashion is a family affair. The artistic vision comes via the genius of longtime local Rhett Headley, whose family owned Castagnola Seafood Restaurant and 19 other restaurants and whose father was the president of the World Plan Executive Council, which organized the activities of the transcendental meditation non-profit movement. Rhett began meditating with his father at the age of 13, and that experience has informed his art, as well as the family business, which produces brightly colored, Mandala-inspired designs in easy-wearing pieces, including pareos, yoga pants, and shirts, that are perfect for a beachside lifestyle.

Rhett’s art focused mainly on airbrushing; today, on the computer he creates the designs that adorn Trinity Tropics’ clothing line. Rhett’s wife Sheri always thought there was a business somewhere in what he was doing. Enter Rhett’s nephew, the business/econ-degreed Jason Headley (also of impressive Santa Barbara stock — his maternal grandmother is Kit Tremaine, founder of the Rescue Mission), who put the wheels in motion. The concept was to create clothing for a relaxed, active, healthy lifestyle — “the kind of lifestyle this art promotes,” Jason said, and the idea took the two men halfway around the world, to India, in search of manufacturers up to the task.

Recreating Rhett’s computer-generated, kaleidoscopic creations on fabric is no easy feat — each item is meticulously hand-dyed, color-by-color, pattern-by-pattern. And the process requires extreme heat in order for the colors to render vividly enough, so Trinity’s manufacturers — located in Jodhpur, Jaipur, and New Delhi — can only work during the warmest times of year. But the results were impressive enough to satisfy the artist behind them, as well as earn the company accolades from the fashion industry at large: Trinity Tropics officially came out at last September’s Action Sports Retailer trade show in San Diego, and was a featured darling of the Ellegirl fashion show. Locals can pick up their goods at the Bikini Factory, Momentum Surf shop, Spa du Soleil, and the Oaks at Ojai. Check them out in our fashion spread, on pages 27-33.

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