Wild Ingenuity™: Trent Valladares and HEX Bags

Since 2011 HEX has drawn on decades of exposure in fashion, music, and art and channeled it to equip the next generation of creators, building products that empower people to explore the outer limits of their potential.

Music originally brought founders Trent Valladares and Dan Maravilla together as teenagers living in southern California in the late 1980s. Both visual artists, they would outfit concerts into total sensory experiences by creating and performing original music as well as transforming prestigious concert venues with all-encompassing art installations. Clothing and fashion were also on their radar, often repurposing and making their own clothing and accessories.

The brand’s recently released Women In Focus series highlights female creatives and photographers as they share their stories, challenges, successes and give advice to encourage other women in the industry. Drawing on decades of experience in fashion, music, and art and channels to equip the next generation of creators, HEX teamed up with Natalie Amrossi, Shauna Wade, Elise Swopes, Claire Lejeune, and Enkrypt Los Angeles to create the series and showcase a different perspective in an often male-dominated field. In each episode, the artists discuss what it took to be successful in their careers and how their unique backgrounds shaped the creative journey.

Inspired by music, art and fashion with more than a decade of experience in the design and photography industries, Trent Valladares leads design and direction as co-founder of HEX.

His mission for the brand is to empower everyone to explore the outer limits of their potential through thoughtfully designed products. One of the ways they do this is by developing relationships and creating exclusive collections with top names such as Jim Lee, American Comic Book Artist; Serj Tankian, Renowned Musician and Producer; Rory Kramer, Photographer and Filmmaker; and most recently, Misshattan, Photographer and Creative Director. Working alongside these respected visual artists, musicians, and storytellers helps guide his creative decisions and provides a strong base for his work and aspirations to deliver what every creator needs.

Trent thrives on building community and being a hands-on creator. In addition to his experience as a photographer and musician, Trent has also designed products for numerous domestic and international brands including DKNY, Deluxe Skateboarding, The Hundreds and many others. He has been granted three U.S. patents and has been a featured guest at various events around the country, such as the Next Great Consumer Brand conference at the NASDAQ in New York. We managed to grab Trent on a Zoom call and learn a bit more…

How does Nature influence your work?

Certainly one of the best ways nature influences my work right now is that more and more people are trying to be out in nature. Traveling, hiking, camping….and I hope it stays. This is one of the silver linings of COVID. Because people who maybe didn’t have time or didn’t realize they liked it weren’t getting out into nature, and then they were. This is great, I want to keep doing these things. As a brand we’ve always been about crossing demographics. The more that the lifestyle becomes more all encompassing, that’s in our wheelhouse. You don’t have go be this one person to wear this bag. We’re here to outfit you from work to evening, from trail to travel. And of course on a personal level I like being out in nature — and from a photography standpoint these things go hand in hand , the more I’m out, the more I shoot.

How does Culture influence your work?

Because HEX was my brand, myself and my brother-in-law launched it, it was very influenced by contemporary culture. There’s a minimalist element, there’s a color story, and it’s how I view what’s going on in the marketplace and in culture. Theres always a tech tie in. We have fashion, streetwear chops, but as tech changes, our products have to change. Even through COVID, bloggers could still do their thing, but it was all outdoors. It’s about looking at what you can do. We work with different artists, musicians, visual artists, photographers, and I’ll talk to them about what they’re seeing, what they need. They are very involved in product development. It starts as a collaboration and the research rolls into other products after the colab is done. I’m always talking to folks I know — I’m in LA so it’s easy for me to talk to people and learn what they need. We are authentically in the space, these people are my friends, so this is not a big corporation and a focus group, it’s relationship based.


What does the future hold?

Hopefully it holds some improvements in the manufacturing climate. But really I like the direction that the creative industry is going and consumer products are going. There’s a lot of different things to look at, there’s more all encompassing products, more serving lifestyle than specific tasks. So you’ll see us supporting that kind of stuff. With cloud-based technology and workflow, and improved chip processing capability and memory, people are more mobile and traveling lighter. We want to enable people to do more with their time.

I think there’s space for everyone. We have our own lane, we compete, but the cooler things we all do raises the category as a whole and gets more eyeballs on the whole category. Bags are one of those things that, especially with creators, if you talk to them, they’ll have a closet full of bags. It’s fun to have, and there’s always new things coming out. Specially men’s bags/accessories are the biggest upward trending item in fashion.