I had so much fun catching up with my old friend Nate Berkus this weekend. Last night, he was honored by the Talmud Torah of Minneapolis as benefit alumnus. He spoke about his Jewish roots and how Talmud Torah (when we weren’t skipping class) inspired him to learn about other cultures and countries, and how that all relates to the universal importance of “home.” “Live with the things you love,” he advises. After, I moderated a q&a session that covered everything from Oprah to sordid tales from the Skijammers bus, his distaste for socks (except for at the gym), and his upcoming line for Target.
We know Nate is tight with Oprah. But it was especially interesting to hear him talk about how, at their very first meeting to sign the contract that would make him a design expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show, he told her point blank that he had big plans–books, product lines–he wanted all that. “If that’s going to end up annoying you,” Nate said to Oprah, “maybe we shouldn’t do this.” Amazingly, he was the first of Oprah’s many experts to be so upfront, and she appreciated it. You respect my brand; I’ll respect yours–that was, and still is, their deal.
Speaking of deals, Nate was the one who proposed a home line to Target. He started working on the collection more than a year ago, and designed every one of the 150 products himself. He wants the line to be something shoppers can build upon from one season to the next, and so he was adamant about not doing a limited edition partnership. Target agreed. Their multi-year endeavor launches in stores on Oct. 21.
On, and off stage, talk turned to one of our favorite topics, then and now: shopping! Nate is a master thrift/consignment store shopper. He paid a visit to Opitz Outlet this weekend. One of his other Twin Cities faves is Fashion Avenue in Edina. He’s been known to ship Chanel and Prada to friends in New York, who marvel at the reasonable prices and lack of sales tax.
But no trip to his hometown is complete without swinging through T.J. Maxx at Knollwood, which definitely does have the best designer fashion section of any T.J. Maxx in town. And Dairy Queen. Nate’s weakness: the Peanut Buster Parfait.
Nate talked shop with me on Shop Girls, myTalk107.1, Saturday, May 5. Listen to the interview here.