FashioNXT wrapped up Saturday night with two larger-than-life evening-wear presentations, by Walter Mendez and Michael Costello. The house was possibly the most packed I've seen it, and the air was thick with boozy excitement (seriously, some people get unbelievably shit-faced at these things). Apparently, the decision was made to try to squeeze every possible dollar out of prime seating ticket sales, because I was relegated to the second row. Note to organizers: STOP DOING THAT! Like this isn't some diva-type "don't you know who I am" thing, it's actually harder to see the details of the garments when you have to crane your neck to look around a bunch of front-row-occupying suburban basics, like the guy who kept jumping out of his seat to try to touch the models (ugh).
Anyway, Mendez showed first, with a series of red carpet-esque looks. His presentation was basically divided into several categories: First he show a series of dreamy white dresses, including a voluminous pleated gown, and a shorter, pixie-like number. A couple pieces were embroidered with blue and gold sequins, adding a bit of flash to the otherwise ethereal vibe.
These were followed by some vampy all-black looks, including a brilliantly re-imagined lbd with a metallic bodice and flared skirt. Elements like side-cutouts, up-to-there slits, and giant feather adornments added sex appeal and drama to several of these looks.
Hands down, Day Three of FashioNXT was my favorite night of the event in its entire history, or at least in the history of my attendance. The designer largely responsible for this is Michelle Lesniak, who took inspiration from WPA photographs of the Depression—a premise that gave me pause—and... well, made it a hell of a lot less depressed, economically and otherwise.
But it's not just that. Lesniak may have been the crown of the evening, but Seth Aaron set the bar first. If there was a theme within this evening's set of collections it might be a focus on materials, especially the bouncy, technically intriguing mesh that Aaron used for every stitch of clothing he sent down the runway. Moreover, everything he sent out was in all-white, a presentation choice that he explained from the runway was intended to allow the viewer to imagine pieces in the colors of their choice. Sure, whatever... but more importantly it was a ballsy move to show off Aaron's considerable tailoring talents. He has more than enough chops to pull off a stunt like this. A collection that, stripped of color, could have been boring, was transformed into a moment of concentrated awe at the designer's ability to sculpt striking curves and tight corners into sublimely sophisticated silhouettes. Yet again, I'm impressed. Bravo.
When Portland businesses hit significant milestones, it shows us that supporting local shops, designers, and ideas can be sustainable and successful. Local boutique, Garnish is hitting their own big milestone with their 10th anniversary and will be celebrating with a huge party on Friday, October 24th from 6-9pm. The #garnishgal team will be showing off their current collection with a fashion show, along with boozy cocktails and door prizes (including a $500 shopping spree).
What: Garnish 10th Anniversary Party
When: Friday, October 24th, 6-9pm
Where: 404 NW 12th Ave. Portland, OR 97209
Designer Erica Lurie started Garnish as a locally-made clothing line in 2004, selling in a handful of Portland shops. She eventually expanded to having two shops of her own in town, and now focuses on a single Pearl District location. After being in the business for ten years, I wanted to find out what Erica has learned about owning an independent creative business.
What is your most memorable Garnish moment from the past 10 years?
Perhaps it's because we're in the midst of planning our 10 year anniversary party right now, but our Spring Launch party in 2013 was amazing and at the present moment I'd say it is my greatest memory of the past 10 years. We had a line out the door for our fashion show and the outpouring of support from customers, friends, and former employees was so wonderful. Those are the people who have made it possible for Garnish to reach this milestone and I so appreciate them all.
Is there any advice you would give someone looking to open their own boutique, start their own line—or both!
I would tell them to be prepared for both the hardest and most fulfilling thing you've done in your life (ok, having kids gives this notion a run for its money). The challenges make the rewards even sweeter.
Where do you find inspiration when you’re designing a new collection?
I often find inspiration from my fabric. However, as I look to Spring 2015 (which will have a bit of a Brazilian undercurrent) I am excited to explore other ways of beginning my creative journey. It's easy to fall into the same design process, but I'm finding that to really push myself I need to turn that upside down and look at it from a completely different angle.
What makes Portland such a special place to live and work?
Oh Portland! It just oozes with creativity, from our food, to our design, to our political values. I love the "anything goes" mentality here—it's both very inclusionary and supports individual expression. And along with our progressive views comes a commitment to supporting the local economy—and the Garnish brand is as local as it gets!
Photos aren't the only thing to process after a show like FashioNXT, which is evolving into something truly unique. I have to say I missed the drama of the shipyards this year, but I sure preferred the convenient commute to the tent at NW 9th & Northrup. FashioNXT has always had the most legit polish to their presentations, though, and that consistency was maintained. And since they had to go with port-o-potties, at least they sprung for the nicer ones.
Oh, but let's not dwell on that. From what I personally witnessed, this may have been FashioNXT's most impressive year yet overall. \Night two of the run featured a number of contests, including the Wearable Technology Fashion Competition. A crazy-sounding light-up performance jumpsuit won, but we didn't actually get to see it on the runway, which was kind of a bummer. Instead the runway was dominated by contestants in the Up/NXT Emerging Designers Contest (of which I was a judge).
But first, the runway kicked off with last year's competition-winner Amy Sim, who has partnered with Wendy Matthews, a designer with a ballet background, on a bridal line call Grace Mariee. It had plenty of commercial appeal, with a wide variety of bridal personalities represented. It's hard to put a stamp on something like a bridal line, but I'll be interested to see where they end up gravitating. Toward the customer who goes for a caged bodice? Or to the demure tea-length set?
The bridal theme continued with Stephanie D. Couture, a well established local source for wedding and formal. One gets the sense that she has her methods down and knows her customers, but I attune more to bolder moments, like and all-lace sheer long-sleeved number and colors that stray outside the wedding bubble, like black and crimson.
FashioNXT kicked off Wednesday night with its customary international showcase, which focused this time around on Shenzhen, China. This year, the entire week has moved from the Swan Island Vigor Shipyards to a tent set-up in the Pearl's Station Place. The change was much welcomed by those of us who have always loved to see the collections but hated making the long-ass trek—plus the new setting is a lot more scenic, and makes the whole thing feel more in tune with the heartbeat of the city.
The night started typically, with Mayor Charlie Hales and a Chinese delegate each giving speeches about how pleased they are to form this connection. The most noteworthy moment came when Hales, to much applause, declared October 8-11 Portland's official Fashion Week (so, uh, not sure what that means for that other Portland Fashion Week). The whole production felt like a focused effort to elevate the event to the next level, and fittingly, the lineup was one of the strongest I've seen since FashioNXT launched. As a whole, the collections shown were innovative, beautiful and exquisite in quality. In the past, the international showcases have sometimes felt so far removed from the rest of the shows, it has been hard to know what to make of them. This year, though, it felt like a raising of the bar on what to expect going forward.
First up was Kai Yeung Yau, a designer focused on creating both affordable and forward-looking fashion. His collection was filled with uniquely layered ensembles consisting of loose, intricately embroidered pieces in colors like fuscia, orange and emerald green. There were also some beautifully draped geometric dresses that moved on the body in all kinds of cool ways. The collection was equal parts edgy cool and classically pretty.
"Most of my outfit is from Nordstrom. The sweater underneath is from Ireland. Hats are my signature accessory. I'm inspired by travel. Sometimes something is so obnoxious you just have to have it!" -Stephanie
"I like a mix of vintage and current trends. The purse is from Kim White handbags. She makes purses from the interiors of classic cars. The ring is by Marcia Moran; it's from Gilt. The necklace is House of Harlow. My hat and my jacket are actually both from Zara." -Karalee
Devon showed his collection, Devonation, at Portland Fashion Week.
"Because I showed a collection with a lot of color, I purposefully chose a neutral palette for a strong contrast. Lately, I've been into dark graphics. The pants are from my line, Devonation. I got the shirt in New York."
"My style is retro glam, with an edge. I wear mostly vintage." -Siena
"I'm an architect. My jacket screams paint and art; I'm inspired by that." -Lera
It's a bit fatter than the print:
• In preparation for their impending to move across the river (to 511 SW Broadway), Stand Up Comedy is lightening the load, with an extra 20 percent off current sale items, through Oct 15. Stand Up Comedy, 811 E Burnside, shopstandingup.us
• Bridge & Burn celebrates fall with the launch of their new line and a party with deals, raffles, and New Deal drinks. Bridge & Burn, 1122 SW Morrison, Thurs Oct 9, 5:30-8:30 pm
• Multnomah Whiskey Library, Winn Perry, and GQ are teamed up for the magazine’s “How to” series. In the case of “How to Select the Perfect Whiskey,” that means MWL experts in the shop to pour and educate, plus 10 percent off your menswear shopping. Winn Perry, 209 SW 9th, Thurs Oct 9, 6-8 pm, rsvp: email@example.com, 21+
• The Past Future Textile Design event featuring Textile Hive is debuting as part of Design Week. Check out our story on the collection and project. Steven Goldman Gallery at the Art Institute of Portland, 1122 NW Davis, opening reception Thurs Oct 9, 5:30 pm, free, through Oct 31
• In other Design Week events, Just for Kicks organizers EYES + EDGE and Antonio Brasko invited 12 designers and artists to create redesigns of Adidas sneakers, to be auctioned off to benefit Harper's Playground. Plus: DJs and "rad vibes." Index PDX, 114 NW 3rd, Thurs Oct 9, 6-9 pm
• More Design Week! Plywerk hosts "Design of Nature: an eco-conscious exploration of design," a group show of local artists' and photographers' work on the company's bamboo and maple panels. Plus they'll have a rather baffling list of pleasures: Salt and Straw ice cream (okay, cool), local pears (uh, sure), Ninkasi (doy), Pacific Pie Co. pies (YUM), a pinball contest (why not!), and... a goat petting zoo (sign me the fuck up!). Plywerk Inc, 318 SE Main #400, Thurs Oct 9, 5-9 pm, FREE
• Curated handmade vendor and boutique sale event Bargain Hunting 101 returns! As the name suggests, be prepared to find makers and retailers alike offloading merch at rock-bottom prices. Red Rose Ballroom, 1829 NE Alberta, Sat Oct 11, 10 am-5 pm
• Prolific craft author Susan Beal celebrates her new collaborative tome with Pendleton, Hand-Stitched Home, with a signing event at the Woolen Mill store. There’ll be giveaways, examples of finished projects, and lots of talk about wool, and! Fabrics from the Portland Collection are currently on sale at 40 percent off. Pendleton Woolen Mill Store, 8500 SE McLoughlin, Sat Oct 11, 1-5 pm
• GQ’s series moves up the street for “How to Fit and Care for Your Boots,” guided by Danner, Superfeet, and Woodlands. Free insoles with boot purchases made during the event! Tanner Goods, 1308 W Burnside, Sat Oct 11, noon-5 pm
• Another reason to visit Winn Perry: musician Zach Joseph stops by for an in-store performance prior to his show later at Secret Society. Catch the preview (and a drink) and look for a forthcoming YouTube channel of Winn Perry performances like it). Winn Perry, 209 SW 9th, Sun Oct 12, 4 pm
• Frances May's annual warehouse sale is upon us like a brief, hot flash. Show up early for amazing prices on gear for men and women from favorite designers like Suno, Rachel Comey, and A.P.C. The Cleaners at Ace Hotel, 1022 SW Stark, Sun Oct 12, noon-4 pm
Last Thursday I attended two store openings, one for the brand spanking new West End Select Shop (which I will post about in depth next week) and Adorn's soft opening for their second location on SE Division. As is usually the case, shop owner Nicole Whitesell and her staff were working up until the last possible second to make sure everything came together, and from what I saw everything did. The space is huge and has lots of variety to choose from, including a sizable denim selection and lots of accessories. Fixtures were made by Whitesell's husband, and when I talked to her she said the space is still a work in progress, and admitted to bringing a big comfy leather chair in from home for a finishing touch.
From what I saw the place looks great, and with all of the activity and foot traffic happening on SE Division I am positive that the new location will bring them much success.
If you have yet to check out the new space, they are having a Grand Opening Party on October 16, complete with refreshments and prizes. Details can be found here.
Last week's Adam Arnold presentation at the Museum of Contemporary Craft was about frustration and hope, transforming and maturing, lightness and darkness—he even invited audiences to write down something they wanted to shed or transform in their lives, collected them in a makeshift coffin, and apparently burned them all later that night. As such, it was perhaps the most subdued in terms of color of any collection ever before seen from the designer, a palette of largely blacks, whites, and grays, with the occasional modest appearance of a forest green or blue, punctuated by just two items in gold, one of which was this jacket, which is vying to be my favorite piece in the collection:
I've been collecting Arnold's pieces for years now, and I'll often find myself going three or four days in row having worn something of his design. This is both a testament to his ability to sidestep trendiness and to simply make clothing sturdy enough to withstand years of wear—something that isn't as common as it should be in that price bracket. I haven't kept every item I've ever had of his, but I don't recall anything I've given up because it was falling apart. It may sound cliché to talk about investment in clothing, but in Arnold's case it's appropriate.
So, I am actually pleased to see a quieter line of subtle pieces that promise, "You'll only need this one." I'm often a fan of designers' wandering into bombastic colors and patterns, but here I found myself focusing on the impeccable simplicity of the black trousers here (which, granted, don't convey that well in photo as anything special—but the cut, the length, the natty little pleats! So exactly right.) even though they're styled like a footnote to loungier upper counterparts.
of course, Arnold can rarely shy away from showing off a little of his proficiency with detail, as in the aforementioned jacket and this sexy forest green number, which is vying to be your holiday dress for the coming season:
Two more favorites. This elegant gothiness for him:
And the femme fatale of this sexy, deceptively straightforward suit, which arguably served as the show's biggest stopper:
More photos after the break!
When I first heard that Portland Fashion Week was switching locations to Pioneer Square, I was a little iffy on how the event would play out. As it turns out, it wasn’t bad. White parachute-like tents covered the block, along with a red carpet to glam up the night.
As many of us know, Portland Fashion Week has partnered with the Art Institute, and this year they decided to do things a bit differently by presenting their first ever couture contest. Melanie Risner, Fashion Department Director at Ai and Sue Bonde, Ai’s Fashion Show Director, briefly spoke to us before the show.
“Portland Fashion Week is really about art, creativity, and community,” said Bonde, before introducing Foreign Talks, an American indie band from Vancouver, WA, wh—despite running into a few technical issues—managed to entertain the crowd with a reggae/funk sound.
Also in attendance was Looptworks, a Portland based up-cycling company that focuses on rescuing excess materials to create finished goods. Their approach is simple: “Use less to make more.” And that’s just what they’re currently doing in a partnership with Southwest Airlines, with plans to use the airline's old seat covers to create outdoor accessory items like backpacks and duffle bags.
But back to the runway. Portland Fashion Week revealed an eco-couture challenge featuring apparel made from recycled denim scraps. Fifteen designers participated, and this was by far the most exciting and innovative part of the night. Some looks were better, while others lacked originality. The show opened with a denim romper with floral accents followed by a fitted party mini dress with fringed sleeves that looked as if they were held up by a set of two leaves. The second look, designed by China Zamoango Hamilton, won third place in the competition, and first place by audience vote.
Another favorite look of mine in the denim collection was a Twiggy-style dress made from denim patches, which I like to call "the spider web." Even the model, with her boyish white hair, resembled the world’s first supermodel. There was another denim romper with a peacock-shaped silhouette train with lots of volume that was pleasingly romantic and whimsical.
FashioNXT is… well, next in the succession of busy fall runways. By far the most polished of the lot, this edition moves from its longtime home in the shipyards to the Pearl, a setting FashioNXT Executive Producer Tito Chowdhury tells me is “exponentially more beautiful… real big boy production,” and I’m inclined to believe him.
The lineup is typically a bit soup-to-nuts, but resolutely forward-thinking. Notably, the shows kick off with night called “China Moments,” showcasing visiting designers from Shenzhen: Lu Yu, Nganlok, and Song Hong. Says Chowdhury, “Shenzhen fashion has been showing [at Mercedez Benz] Fashion Week’s ‘Fashion Shenzhen’ since 2013. Choosing Portland as the only city in the US outside of New York for a runway show affirms the regard FashioNXT has earned internationally. They are testing this market to see whether Portland is aware and worldly enough for them to stay engaged.” (No pressure, guys.) It’s far from the first time the production has dipped its toes in international waters, and while it sometimes feels out of context, these moments are typically some of the most breathtaking.
The crux of FashioNXT’s identity is an exploration of the dual advance of technology and fashion, and to that end we have the Digital Trends Wearable Technology Fashion Competition, featuring such items as a bracelet that charges your phone and a purse with ambient LED lighting—to be judged by designers and editors, along with representatives from Samsung, Nike, Intel, and more.
It’s also well known that FashioNXT has become a West Coast haven for the collections of Project Runway veterans, including some of our Portland’s many past winners. Champs like Seth Aaron and Michelle Lesniak will show, as well as Goga by Gordana, Irina Shabayeva, and habitual showstopper Michael Costello. Representing the region are the contestants in the Up/NXT Emerging Designers Competition (of which I am one of the judges), last year’s winner Amy Sim, and Portland designers Sonia Kasparian and Stephanie D Couture, along with Seattle’s Atiz, South Dakota’s Lenzanita, and LA’s Walter Collection.
FashioNXT, Station Place, NW 9th & Northrup, Wed Oct 8-Sat Oct 11, 6 pm reception, 8 pm runway nightly, fashionxt.net for complete info, including after parties
Portland Fashion Week kicked off Tuesday night at its new location at Pioneer Square. This year organizers set the event in a giant tent, a la the Bryant Park venue of New York Weeks past, which felt way more suited to a runway show than the previous Convention Center location. In a seeming attempt to emulate the reality-TV-based buzz that rival FashionXT has achieved, the night was hosted by America's Next Top Model alum Naima Mora. It wasn't exactly clear what the purpose of having a (sort of) celebrity host was, other than to give her a chance to plug her new book, Model Behavior (so that's a thing), but I guess it didn't hurt.
First up was Brady Lange, whose football-inspired line line, titled "Let's Play" was centered around day-of-the-week underwear for men and women. Unsurprisingly, this translated into kitschy, playful and often very racy looks. The often totally sheer garments mostly included midriff-baring jerseys and cheerleader-style skirts. Looks were styled with football pads and helmets, and models wore warpaint-style makeup.
The wildly popular Content at Ace Hotel (which I can talk up all I want to now that I'm not working on it!) is returning for its annual edition Saturday, Oct 18.
For the uninitiated, the event selects local designers (mostly of apparel and accessories, but also home goods, scents, and—as of this year—flowers) and assigns them the task of transforming one of the hotel's guest rooms into an installation that gives attendees a view into the minds and/or processes behind some of the city's most interesting emerging brands. It takes up an entire floor of the hotel, and there's a pop-up shop in the adjacent Cleaners selling goods from the folks upstairs, and well, all I can say is try to get there early—it's always super-packed.
This year's lineup:
Tickets are on sale here (they go fast).
Ok! Diving back in to the meaty issues at hand regarding the proposed Portland Apparel Lab (PAL). We've looked at the memberships and costs, which have understandably been the focus of most prospective members I've spoken to. But part of PAL's launch strategy brings up a crucial that hasn't been brought to the fore perhaps as much it should be. Other regional industries, like brewing, that have seen institutional support and achieved widespread recognition as being part of—for lack of a less gauche term—"the Portland brand" have something the apparel industry lacks: economic data.
To again quote heavily from PAL's conveniently verbose co-founder, Crispin Argento:
Once we get enough interest and applications, our first order of business is to put together an economic report to demonstrate to outside investors and the local business community that Portland has the entrepreneurial talent, drive, potential to create the apparel companies of tomorrow. We need to better understand, qualify and quantify the Portland market, its short and long-term viability and growth potential. The $75.00 application fees go toward underwriting the Economic State of the Industry Report (we have to hire an economic consulting firm) and ongoing short-term PAL development. The final report and finding will be presented to the Portland apparel community, business community, City of Portland, State of Oregon and the PDC at a luncheon late this year or early next year. This report will be similar to economic feasibility studies that have been done for [athletic and outdoor], tech, food, beer industries, etc.
Here's one for the athletic and outdoor-specific apparel industry in Portland (its pals just refer to it as A&O).
Incidentally, Friday evening ADX is hosting a "State of the Collective" party for its Portland Made affiliate to reveal the results of a survey conducted by Portland State University that, as ADX's Kelley Roy puts it, "shows [the local manufacturing community's] collective economic impact is a force to be reckoned with." Which again reminds me—special apparel-related headaches aside—that it's probably in everyone involved's best interest to stick close to the movement to re-home/localize manufacturing in general. Friday's National Manufacturing Day, in fact, and an amazing place to experience that will be ADX from 6-8 pm.
I spent a good part of the late morning yesterday on the phone with Adam Arnold, talking about his upcoming F/W '14 show tomorrow at the Museum of Contemporary Craft. It comes on the heels of an impromptu residence Arnold undertook in the "Fashion Safehouse," a small, conceptually crafted space-within-a-space that's part of the about-to-wrap Fashioning Cascadia exhibit that's been featured at the museum all summer.
Although his idea, and something he was really excited about, the reality of picking up out of his (huge, gorgeous) inner SE studio and actually getting shit done proved rather difficult, and he wound up clashing with some of the institution's rules—which, to be fair, don't seem very out-there: He couldn't keep his fern with him in the safehouse, or drink his customary pots of tea, or advertise his show on the outside of the building. "I'm not proud of it," he remembers about having flung a banana peel on the floor in frustration.
One of the reasons talking to Arnold about his clothing is so interesting is that it usually takes a long time before he gets around to mentioning fabric or silhouette. He tends to start with his emotional state, often designing his way through challenges, whether it's grieving his grandmother's passing or teaching himself Esperanto.
This time he was reacting to being pissed off at having been told "no" by the museum administration, and he maybe not-so-coincidentally posted this rather amazing photo of himself as a child in the midst of it. #tbt and all that.
"Working against that feeling of hopelessness… 'You can’t do this, you can’t do that,' kind of reinforced, 'Well you can do this… that resistance created a certain ability in me to be able to push past challenges in what I actually made for the show. It’s big and heavy and dark and there’s so much you can do with that."
Arnold is also thinking about transformation, and now that he's in his 40s he's considering the first half of his life and how it may differ from the second:
"I want to invite the parts of that first half that work for me into the second half, and let everything else just transform into whatever it needs to... The museum tells me 'no' and I just turn into that redheaded bowl-cut brat. It’s recognizing that when somebody tells you 'no,' leave the five-year-old at home. That reaction is not invited to the second half of my life.
"You have to work towards happiness. It’s like a muscle you have to flex. So I’ve been going to places I think are beautiful. I tell myself I have to leave the city once a week and go hiking for two hours. It’s surprising how all that stuff isn’t mandatory, it’s like at the bottom of the list. Someone was like, 'Well it’s really great that you have the time to do that, because I’m so busy.' And I can totally related to them because I used to just hate the fact that people could go to the river and, like, drink beer and eat fried chicken.
This show is about the balance between restriction and freedom, light and dark. It’s about transforming and balancing and just how to live and enjoying your life while you are working. The relaxation you think you are going to have when you are living that dream is actually a conscious relaxation. When I’m working on a show I’m pretty fucking alive, but it hurts. You’re tired! You have to pee in a fucking vase! Someone just called me and said they want to come by and take photos in the studio and I’m like dude! There’s a dog bed on the floor where I’ve been sleeping and a vase full of piss!
There you have it, folks, the glamorous world of an artist working in fashion. Vases full of piss. I wouldn't miss it. Adam Arnold Fall 2014, Museum of Contemporary Craft, 724 NW Davis, Wed Oct 1, 6 pm, FREE (register at adamarnoldfall2014.eventbrite.com
Ancliffe—the collection of chic basics designed by Rachel Ancliffe—launched earlier this year but has only been available online and at the occasional pop-up event. For those who enjoy the old-time practice of trying things on before purchasing, here’s another IRL chance! Gold + Arrow, 1221 SW Alder, opening reception Thurs Oct 2, 4-7 pm, through Oct 9
What ever happened to Dawn Sharp? The one-time mainstay of Portland's apparel scene, Sharp's flair for occult-ish styling and psychedelic velvets makes her one of my personally most-missed designers. Recently she's been busy designing costumes for films, work that has kept her away from the scene here, and she eventually moved back to L.A. recently—and I know how counter-intuitive this sounds—"to save money to buy a house."
Those homeowner aspirations are pointed back up here at Portland, though, which is good because
L.A. will become a hideous battleground for the Water Wars before the end of our lifetime her creative voice is also missed by many. Since her absence is temporary, though, I'm still counting her latest spring/summer '15 collection, shot by Brandon Harman, under my purview. It's called "Bebe Le Strange," and I love it.
After the official launch/reveal of the Portland Apparel Lab, here's where I left off. After a brief respite from the brain-taxing effort of trying to take in the full scope of PAL, I've decided to break this up issue by issue. So here is part one of PAL co-founder Crispin Argento's answers to my questions. Again, I am sure anyone considering this has questions of their own, and I particularly think it's worth getting a specific assessment of your individual situation to determine if PAL participation is a good idea for you. Please do contact them—they've made it clear they're making time to meet with people individually and in small groups.
Another interesting development is the fact that Argento posted a photo three days ago of the sign outside Columbia Sportswear with the caption "Thinking OUTSIDE the box! Seeding the apparel companies of tomorrow in #pdx. #meeting #fashion #future @pdxapparellab #innovation..." (etc.) Could this mean that PAL has aroused the interested of Columbia? That would be an interesting development, considering so much of the discussion around the issues PAL seeks to address have circled around a perceived isolation on the part of the big A&O (athletic and outdoor) companies based here, and so many of the people having this conversation have wondered aloud if there might be a mutual benefit between these well-resourced companies and the struggling independent scene....
But first, let's crunch some numbers.
My concern: The site's description of the types of memberships available seems limited/unclear.
CRISPIN ARGENTO: Business Memberships are the companies, brands, designers, and the centerpiece of PAL. We are looking to secure 50-75 start-ups/existing brands that are interested in building their businesses through PAL and having access to the subsidized programs services. The application for Business Member brands is $75. If applicants are chosen for membership (a selection committee/advisory board will review talent, drive, potential, and financial security ), we are asking prospective members to secure their membership with the $575.00 initiation fee. In total, general business membership is $6,275 per year, general student (full-time) membership is $3,875. If your business has two founders, membership #2 (per LLC) for the Co-Founder/Partner is $2,675. This gives each co-founder/partner full access and benefits, but the business expense/fees can be split, making membership $4,475 per business partner, or $372/mo. These costs are very competitive and less than many incubators around the country, yet PAL offers a lot more resources, services, benefits, etc. Plus, through membership many of the additional fee-based services in Strategize, Design and Activate are highly subsidized and below market.
Argento invites comparison to equivalent memberships at the following (I added what it looks like the annual cost is to a member similar to PAL's Business Member): Manufacture New York ($4,900); Fashion Incubator San Francisco ($4,850, plus this item listed under eligibility requirements: "Fund their businesses, including creation, production and marketing of their designs, which could cost approximately $45,000 for 2 collections a year."); Las Vegas' Stitch Factory ($8,340); and Seattle Fashion Incubator ($6,000).
It should also be noted that Argento's $6,275 number includes the one-time initiation fee. A second year's annual cost should then be $5,700. Another observation: The total cost for a single company with two partners looks like it would be more expensive than a company with sole proprietorship, even though a split between the total cost of the first year would be less for each individual: The $6,275 would still be charged for the initial partner, and then with the added co-founder fees, including another $575 initiation, the total comes to $8,950.
Kicking off the season’s runway shows is Portland Fashion Week. The event will be held at Pioneer Square for three nights of local fashion featuring Ready-to-Wear, Bridal and Couture, and a showcase of students and alumni from the Art Institute. Tickets are on sale now (with a handy discount code: pfwperks). To help you decide which night(s) you want to attend, here is a preview of the designers you will see.
Tuesday, September 30
Solid menswear designers like Jaefields, West Daily, and crowd-favorite Brady Lange (who offers both men’s and women’s apparel) join the ladies on the runway. Copper Union is an up-and-coming plus size line, and Sweet Jayne is a local boutique showcasing locally made jewelry and clothing from their store. Sister Fresh and Tati & Me are two children’s lines who are getting in on the fun as well.
Jaefields, West Daily, Christie Chanthakhoun, Copper Union, Sweet Jayne, Brady Lange, Katie Guinn, KLÄD (from Seattle), Sister Fresh, Tati & Me
**Full disclosure: I am currently a freelance project manager for Copper Union.**
Wednesday, October 1
Bridal and Couture
The driving force of these designers are upcycled, vintage, and one-of-a-kind looks. Standouts include custom bridal magic from Sunjin Lee Designs and Sonia Kasparian of Urchin Redesign. Check out the two Emerging Designer winners this night as well, Oscar Lopez and Kate Miles.
Garnish just stocked the crap out of their boutique with pieces from its houseline. All are made in Portland and available in limited quantities, so if any of these strike your fancy I would suggest you boogie on down there post haste. (They even supplied us with the names of each piece along with the price.)
Bottom (L to R): The Bridget Coat in Dinner Date $288 and The Allison Skirt in Spanish Revival $138,
The Bella Jacket in Dinner Date $154 with The Scarlet Top in Angelic $72 and The Allison Skirt in Dinner Date $138,
The Bella Jacket in Spanish Revival $154 and The Allison Skirt in Spanish Revival $138
SE Division has undergone a major transformation over the last couple of years, with lots of new businesses sprouting up and changing the landscape of the entire street and the neighborhoods that surround it. However the additions have been mostly food based, (not that I am complaining.) When Adorn owner Nicole Whitesell announced that she was opening a second store at 3366 SE Division it came as a very good piece of news. Not only because it's always celebratory news that a local business is doing so well that they are able to expand, but also for SE Division because they are adding a much loved and successful retail store into their community.
Adorn's second location will feature 2,000 square feet of retail space with its signature denim collection in sizes up to 16. Monthly capsule collections will feature Adorn designers like Prairie Underground, Henry and Belle, Mother Denim, Margaret O’Leary, and Bridge and Burn, plus expanded jewelry and accessories collections from locals Grayling Jewelry, Bronwen Jewelry, and Lulu Designs. As with their flagship store on NE Fremont, Adorn’s new location will continue to focus on brands made and sourced responsibly.
The new space also offers a personal styling section, which allows Adorn to expand its signature styling services. They will be able to work with customers by phone and email before they step foot in the store, which will no doubt be a great benefit for busy women who don't have much time to dedicate to shopping.
Of course with a new store comes the requisite party. While the store will open it's doors on October 3rd, the Grand Opening Party will be a couple of weeks later on October 16th from 6-9PM. It will feature giveaways throughout the event, cocktails by RAFT Syrups and Northwest Distillery, food from some of Division’s restaurants, a trunk show with exclusive Henry and Belle and Fidelity Denim styles, and raffle prizes from its Division St. neighbors.
The Imperial Collection by Anna Cohen represents a lot—for American manufacturing, sustainable apparel practices, and as an example of taking a new approach to bringing products to market rather than falling into lockstep with the industry's mainstream.
It's a new division of the Imperial Stock Ranch, long celebrated as a model for sustainable practices. All of the wool in the made-in-USA pieces—which consist of womenswear and blankets—comes from the ranch, and the collection is designed by widely respected designer (and longtime Imperial collaborator) Anna Cohen. It makes its official debut today at Mercantile, with a long reception running from 2-7 pm (oh yes, there will be refreshments), which gave me occasion to write about it in this week's Sold Out column.
Imperial's Jeanne Carver, who also works as a supplier for the food industry with the ranch's other products (like beef and wheat) sees the parallels between farm-to-fork and ranch-to-runway clearly, and isn't interested in getting "caught up" in the grind of trade shows and schedules imposed by the majority of this industry. Instead she plans to develop the line slowly, working closely with a few key retailers to strategize the next collection, which won't appear any sooner than next fall. "The current system is kind of broken, and people recognized it in food first," says Carver. "And for us it was never different. It’s just a different form of protein."
Mag-Big designer/founder Cassie Ridgway is always up to a million different things (including being an occasional Mercury contributor). So in addition to owning a boutique, producing fashion shows, designing clothes, writing, working at a restaurant, being vice-president of the Hawthorne Business Association, um... what am I forgetting? Oh right, she's in a band called Fault Lines.
So when she was planning the photo shoot for the fall/winter Mag-Big collection, she had the idea to use some of Portland's female musicians as models, something she's done before in fashion shows like the annual summer Alley 33. The idea was to riff on a Vanity Fair-style shoot, and it took off. So much so that she now says is "so huge, we are breaking it into a series in which we will release one set of photos per month."
The first of these, shot by Jason Quigley, features members, past and present, of Orquestra Pacifico Tropical, Great Wilderness, Sugar in Wartime, What About Us, Sara Jackson-Holman, Fault Lines, Edna Vasquez, Sallie Ford, Point Juncture, Wa, Thanks, and Daughter Talk. And, Ridgway says that later editions will also feature folks like Laura Gibson, Luz Elena Mendoza, and Kathy Foster.
Models: Jamie McMullen, Tai Carmen, Sallie Ford, Shana Lindbeck, Emily Overstreet, Sara Jackson-Holman, Sara Hernandez, Jimi La, Edna Vasquez, and Amanda Spring.
Wildfang has dropped their newest lookbook and it's pretty rad. The vibe is 1990's Marc Jacobs meets Where the Wild Things Are. Shot on location on Portland’s Sauvie Island, 16 Wildfangs roam the forest and make it their playground. The models are all natives of Portland, and true Wildfangs from models to tastemakers and designers.
The Wildfang Club Collection embodies the nature of a secret society. The brand presents the Club’s crest, featured on embroidered sweatshirts, tees, and tanks. The crest encapsulates the Wildfang logo as well as the brand’s wolf mascot in a modern, classic emblem.
“Inside all of us is a Wildfang. We are punks and preps, mavens and mavericks. But Wildfang is at our core” says Wildfang’s Creative Director Taralyn Thuot. “It bonds us together in a shared spirit and attitude. For the launch of our fall collection, we wanted to show the breadth and diversity of the Wildfang Club.”
Photographer: Nicholas Peter Wilson; Supporting Photographer: Lindsay Beaumont
Stylist Lead: Taralyn Thuot
Assistants: Tashina Hill, Grace Kildare
Models:Emily Mills, Salina Bradford, Lana Nyman, Sarah McNie, Olivia Chouinard
Supporting: Alyse McNeil, Amy Jo Williams, Crystal Geller, Katie Beasley, Jessica Ilahaole, Noelle Sosaya, Rachael Andreas, Sabrina Blatt, Sasha Clyde, Skye Sengelmann, Sugar Ambrosio
See more photos after the jump.
To be clear, I do not want fall to come. Every summer has to be ripped from my grasp, and I get really defensive at this time of year, when people start every other sentence with some allusion to summer's end even as they're sweating through their tank top. Then I usually remain in cozy denial until Thanksgiving, or at least Halloween. That being said, fall clothes are the only good thing about the season changing, and there are two things that came up on the calendar recently that stir the desire for time to actually pass:
On September 19, Mercantile is hosting the debut of the Imperial Collection by Anna Cohen, a line of womenswear made from the wool "grown" on Oregon's Imperial Stock Ranch. If you've visited the Fashioning Cascadia exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Craft, you've had the chance to see a few of the truly gorgeous pieces from it.
Then, on October 1, and again at MoCC, which really has become something of a second home for Portland's fashion community, it seems, Adam Arnold—who's back to doing regular seasonal shows, it would seem—is debuting his work for fall, which will no doubt include more wool, offbeat patterns, and things to add to my growing wish list. As usual, it's free, but you have to register. I'd suggest doing so soonish to be safe, since people come out for Adam Arnold shows.
So cheer up, sun worshipers.
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