It’s ironic to think that Karrueche Tran started her career as a behind-the-scenes stylist for Nordstrom – never desiring the public spotlight. But, sometimes, the spotlight finds you. Tran’s public image grew exponentially after landing a role as Virginia on the hit show Claws opposite Niecy Nash, and soon she had amassed nearly 10 million followers on Instagram and had become an overnight style icon. To her tremendous credit – as the spotlight shined brighter and brighter on the young actor – Tran used her platform to speak about important social issues. The causes she cares about are central to her new athleisure collaboration with PrettyLittleThing, which is a 62-piece collection with inclusive sizing in mind. For Tran, it was important that her collection be accessible to everyone.
The collection launched at the end of what was a tough year for everyone, Tran included. But the pandemic, and the ensuing downtime it forced, caused her to look inward, searching for peace of mind. She picked up a few new hobbies along the way, and made working out central to her self-care routine. Through it all, she remains surprisingly grounded, given her fame and public persona, and she is generous with the wisdom she’s found on her journey. In an exclusive interview with Savoir Flair, Tran shares some of that wisdom with our readers, and her motivational outlook will validate anyone who has decided to make improvements in their lives in the new year. It helps that there are some cute (and affordable) ‘fits in store for those that are embarking on their own fitness journeys, thanks to Tran’s new collaboration with PrettyLittleThing.
From a personal shopper in Los Angeles to a worldwide style icon, that must have been such a rewarding and validating journey. What has it been like getting recognition in the arena of fashion?
It’s almost a surreal feeling when I think back to my Nordstrom days. I have always loved fashion and having been able to attend fashion shows in New York, Paris, and Milan is something I don’t take for granted. I am blessed to be able to tap into the fashion world, and create a collection with purpose and meaning.
Do you ever hear from young women that are inspired by your journey? What do they say to you?
A lot of women feel as though they can relate to the things I’ve gone through. I think people have seen my journey and growth through the public eye and it inspires them. I think the biggest lesson that I’ve learned is to keep pushing forward, regardless of how tough and impossible things may seem. If you pursue things from a genuine place, focus and work hard, anything is possible. It just takes time and patience and faith to get there. Life is not meant to be easy. There will be many bumps on your journey, but the gift of life is how you navigate through adversity and triumph in the end. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel!
There will be many bumps on your journey, but the gift of life is how you navigate through adversity and triumph in the end.
I think you probably experience what a lot of people here in the Middle East experience, being “third culture kids”, as in they belong to three or more different cultures, but kind of feel like they don’t belong anywhere specifically. I imagine that with Black and Vietnamese heritage, and also being American, that you feel a similar pull in different directions. What’s been your experience of being biracial in America, especially during a social period that is so hostile to people of color?
America is one giant melting pot. I have a Vietnamese mother, African American father, grew up with my god-family who are Jamaican, and even have a British stepfather. I always struggled with identity issues growing up, not really knowing where I fit in or who I identified with. There were many times I felt I wasn’t Asian enough or I wasn’t Black enough. But as I got older, I learned to accept all parts of myself and wear my heritage proudly. It breaks my heart to see what Black people have to endure, even after all this time. We have a long way to go, but I am happy people are having the hard conversations, or at least starting to. This year in particular was a tipping point for me, and personally it has motivated me to speak up more as well.
What are some of the resources you turn to when you’re feeling like you need balance and strength? What books, music, art sources, etc?
I like to meditate, do yoga, work out, listen to 90s music, read a motivational or self-development book, and maintain a good skincare routine. When it comes to skincare I love it all, from face steamers, face masks, eye masks, facial tools, etc. I’ve always felt it was important to take care of my skin. I also love cooking and maintaining a balanced diet. This year I picked up a couple of new arts and crafts hobbies. I did a couple of puzzles and started to learn how to cross stitch. It’s very therapeutic!
I am a huge fan of Claws, and have always loved Virginia’s look. How much of your personal style did you put into your character on Claws? Did you work directly with the costume department to help guide her look?
Virginia and I both love cropped anything! However, I wanted to make sure Virginia had her own style that reflected who she is and her environment. I made certain specific requests to the wardrobe designer; for example, Virginia wouldn’t really wear pants or jeans, which she hasn’t on the show. We worked closely together to create fun and bold styles that only Virginia would wear. I really love seeing Virginia’s style evolution from season one to four. Although always true to herself, you can still see a bit of a shift when she begins to mature.
What’s kept you motivated to work out during 2020?
We shot the last season of Claws towards the end of the year. As you know, Virginia’s outfits are little to none (lol). She wears the shortest and tightest outfits, so I had to make sure I felt good in them. I worked with a personal trainer in New Orleans and also did yoga and barre at home. When I look good, I feel good, so I’ve been trying to continue on my workouts now that I’m back home. I definitely haven’t been working out as much, but I at least do yoga three to four times a week. Now that my new collection for PrettyLittleThing is out, I think I’ll have more reason to work out!
Tell me about your design process with this collection. How did you ensure that it was inclusive to all but still achieved its function both as workout gear and clothes stylish enough to wear every day?
Personally, I love to wear athleisure all the time, whether it’s at home, running errands, working out, meditating, or cooking. I love comfort with a dash of sexy. I wanted to create a line that made women look good while doing things that made them feel good. I always want to encourage self-love and be a positive influence to the people around me. To me, self-love is doing things ((reading, yoga, your work, going for a walk, painting, arts and crafts, watching your favorite show, taking a bath, or even doing a face mask) that fulfill you and keep you happy and balanced.