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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Portland Fashion Week Cannot Be Killed

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Tue, Jan 8, 2013 at 11:14 AM

Remember how last year Portland Fashion Week re-branded itself as FASHIONxt? And how everyone everyone kept forgetting and calling it PFW anyway and/or mispronouncing it as "Fashion X.T." instead of the intended "Fashion Next" because creative spelling and capitalization ruin everything? Well shit just got even more confusing. Ye olde Portland Fashion Week has risen from the grave, sold [Correction: No money was exchanged. into the hands that brought you highly questionable events such as the Portland Fashion and Style Awards. This makes me... a little consterned.

PFW has had a rough go of it. Helmed primarily by Tito Chowdhury, he's faced a long, uphill battle to gain the trust of Portland designers, who seemed to perceive him as coming out of nowhere with a proposal that they spend hundreds of dollars to participate in his slick, professionally produced shows. And while some of them were never in the game for that sort of thing, a measure of peace has been achieved over the past years, with PFW and now FASHIONxt finding the designers who see the value in it. It's never been perfect, of course, and many still regard it with suspicion and distaste, but it's finding its groove.

Now that PFW has been sold into new management—including Tod Foulk of Semper Fashion, who was involved in the early incarnations of PFW, along with plus size style blogger Jessica Kane and Saffrona designer Sarabeth Chambers, both of whom appear to be more closely associated with Vancouver than Portland—there will essentially be two PFWs fishing out of the same shallow pool of talented Portland designers interested in participating. This is not good for quality. According to the site PFW is preparing for a five-day affair (Sept 25-29), and assuming FASHIONxt maintains itself at four nights, that's a grand total of nine days. To understate things, that's spreading it too thin.

Now maybe I'm paranoid, but I maintain my position that anyone involved in Portland's fashion industry should be concerned about PFW. To an outsider looking in, it appears by virtue of title and prominence to be the standard bearer of what's happening in the city. Obviously it's more complicated than that, but the fact remains that it's representing you, us…┬áthe entire metro area, arguably. And this comes right on the heels of a Time magazine shout out that placed Portland's fashion week atop a list of non-NYC fashion weeks. In fact all the progress PFW made with the outside press was included in the purchase price restructuring.

So please be careful with what you do with it, PFW 2.0. Please.

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