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Friday, December 5, 2014

Programming Note! Big Changes for MOD

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Fri, Dec 5, 2014 at 2:24 PM

Hello MOD readers! Next week, the Mercury will be returning to a single-blog format ( That means that this will be the last post on MOD!

BUT DON'T PANIC! We'll still be covering all of the many events, sales, openings/closings, interviews, lookbooks, and industry news relevant to the city's thriving fashion, design, and retail scenes. Those types of posts will just live right around the corner on Blogtown, and there will even be a "fashion" option you can click at the top that will isolate those types of posts, so you won't have to sift through all the other content in between.

What about past MOD posts, you say? Excellent question! Everything published in MOD's rather long history will remain online and searchable via the Mercury archives.

Some people say change is scary but I think it's awesome, and I am very excited to continue covering the city's design and lifestyle industries in a more streamlined fashion. If you have any questions about the switch, please feel free to drop me a line.

Blast from the past: A pre-Project Runway Gretchen Jones photographed for MOD in mid-2008.
  • Blast from the past: A pre-Project Runway Gretchen Jones photographed for MOD in mid-2008.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

What the Pluck is up with Your Down?

Posted by Katie Guinn on Tue, Nov 25, 2014 at 8:59 AM

Do you know where your down comes from? Have you ever thought about it? Outdoor apparel brand Patagonia has, and they've decided to make a video to inform their customers of the difference between live plucked down and more humane, after passage-into-the-unknown plucking, which is softly called "traceable down". Down feathers are a bi-product of the food industry, and although force-feeding is now illegal in most European countries (save for France and Hungary) some are still doing it because it enlarges the liver, which results in more foi gras (yuck!). Hungary is where Patagonia has sourced their down since the beginning and have spent many years investigating beyond just reassurance from the farmers, which led to the realization that their long-time supplier had in fact been lying to them the entire time about both not force-feeding or before-molting* plucking. They have since made a dedication to tracing their down in full to ensure themselves and their customers that the high quality down is harvested humanely.
Here's the video they made:


*Molting is a natural process that geese experience where their feathers naturally fall out, so if plucked before this occurs, the geese are put through excruciating pain. Another note: When they're force-fed, it makes their feathers oily which causes the down to be of a lesser quality. To read the entire report on their website, click here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

CEO of WildFang Releases Children's Book

Posted by Katie Guinn on Tue, Nov 18, 2014 at 3:44 PM

Emma's a Gem is the title of a new book written in rhymes by Wildfang CEO Emma McIlroy and illustrated by Portland street artist Jeremy Nichols. It's the story of a curious young tomboy who helps save adults who find themselves in a rut and travels with her hip, young grandpa. The story is inspired by McIlroy's own childhood, wherein she actually discovered a 200M-year-old dinosaur fossil.

A line in the book states: "I don't flipping believe it!" and goes on to explain some strictly British vocabulary. Another favorite passage is: "Nina designs clothes, bags, dresses and shoes, she likes to date girls and has left-wing views." We like the progressive, no-fluff story line, and the verses are a hoot. Jeremy's illustrations are bold, with lively characters donning asymmetrical faces, and the charm of Portland can be found throughout, in graffitied brick walls, food carts, bridges, and balls of yarn.

At the end of the book's thick pages, an adventure journal awaits for kids to keep track of their own inspiring stories. Four years in the works, Emma's a Gem can be found starting tomorrow on and at their flagship store at 1230 SE Grand.

  • Emma McIlroy & Jeremy Nichols

Opening pages
  • Emma McIlroy & Jeremy Nichols
  • Opening pages

Ellery Lincoln with Emmas a Gem
  • Lindsey Beaumont
  • Ellery Lincoln with Emma's a Gem

Monday, November 10, 2014

An Update on the Portland Apparel Lab

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Mon, Nov 10, 2014 at 11:14 AM

The ambitious Portland Apparel Lab project came in hot a few months ago, with a detailed vision of how it could launch Portland's small time fashion professionals into a more competitive zone. There was a well-attended presentation of the plan in September, and an invitation fto come to PAL co-founders Crispin Argento and Dawn Moothart with questions and concerns. Based on my own casually conducted, conversational research, chief among the concerns was and is cost.

Initially it sounded like PAL was going to be up and running on a short timeline, but now it appears that things are slowing down. That's probably a good thing. Argento and Moothart have emphasized the importance of creating metrics for the city's fashion industry, and having a numbers-based understanding of it as a market for services like PAL's. So while applications for the program would have been coming in now, according to Plan A, the timeline for those applications to be download-able has been changed to "in the near future." Argento explains:

Since the September event, we have met with 30-45 brands/designers and we have taken on a few clients under the PAL umbrella for business advisory, strategy and production management services. As an advisory firm, we are open for business.

There continues to be a lot of interest in the greater PAL concept, however we need to assess the market, do additional research on whether people want a platform like PAL and are ready to support this kind of organization financially. I am currently exploring options how to fund a study—in my view this needs to be the first issue [a steering committee put together by the City Cub, of which Argento and I are both members] tackles. We need to define the market. It needs to be done by a third party economic advisory firm which is expensive.

The next steps are to continue spreading the word about PAL. We are currently exploring doing a number of educational seminars about the business end of fashion.

In other words, please hold.

I love the idea of an economic study, which would have the potential to boost the sector in the same way that, say, the craft beer industry has been. And I think it's important to keep an eye on, and at least in some contexts, align with and be counted among the greater maker/manufacturing community, who recently released a survey report that begins to build a numbers-based profile of its potential.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Marine Layer Opens an Airbnb

Posted by Katie Guinn on Tue, Nov 4, 2014 at 2:29 PM

As Airbnb sweeps the city, spare rooms, lofts, garages, and basements are all being rented out, and it's almost insured that a Pendleton blanket will be laid upon the sofa or bed. Marine Layer has just announced their own participation in the trend and the space looks inviting—huge, actually. Guests get their own bathroom and kitchen space (there's no stove to make bacon, but plenty of restaurants nearby), and it's above the store, so some bustle may be heard. While staying at "The Loft", guests receive a 15% discount at the store. With help from Pendleton, Will Leather Goods, Lather and Union Wine Co. they've nailed the decor. To celebrate and give tours, they're hosting a party tomorrow, so go check it out and reserve a night before it gets all booked up.

Stay-cation Event: Marine Layer
828 NW 23rd Avenue, Wed Nov 5, 6-8 pm
RSVP here.

Can you smell the leather and wool?
  • Marine Layer
  • Can you smell the leather and wool?

Dining area
  • Marine Layer
  • Dining area

  • Marine Layer
  • COOL

For more photos and information visit the listing.
kitchen-ish room
  • Marine Layer
  • kitchen-ish room

The building
  • Marine Layer
  • The building

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Altar: Mag-Big's New Identity

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Tue, Oct 28, 2014 at 11:14 AM

Mag-Big has had a rather meteoric rise to prominence in the city as both a retailer and clothing line, thanks in large part to founder Cassie Ridgway's stick-to-yer-guns attitude toward supporting and growing a class of small apparel businesses she's dubbed "designer manufacturers."

But now, it's time for something new. Mag-Big as we know it is slated to close its doors December 27 for a remodel, and will re-open in the first or second week of January as Altar, with a grand opening celebration slated for January 15. Says Ridgway, "It will specialize in the mystical Northwest heritage with an emphasis on occult inspirations" (!). She's also entering a new partnership with the venture, with Iron Oxide jewelry designer Amy Fox.

An old Mag-Big photo that hints at shades of its occultish future?
  • Mag-Big
  • An old Mag-Big photo that hints at shades of its occultish future?

More, more, moar from Ridgway:

Our clothing line will continue to be manufactured in house, alongside Iron Oxide jewelry, and we will still proudly feature select Portland-based companies. Altar will be known for extremely high-quality jewelry, apparel, essential oils and perfumes, body care products, and art. You'll also find gifts like tarot cards, smudges, precious stones, and other mystical elements. Our dream girl is maybe a little "witchy," but she has extremely refined taste in silhouettes and styling elements. I think I've always told you that one of our best customer bases has always been "metal head babes with incredible taste in jewelry." This store is for them, with a slightly bohemian twist. It's going to be beautiful.

And what of the Mag-Big Houseline?

We believe that the new store will take our clothing company to the next level because our identity as "Mag-Big Houseline" has not come without a set of challenges. It has resonated with so many as an all-inclusive art-based boutique. We have carried hundreds of artists—over 700—and have received dozens of submissions per week for the last few years. As much as we honor our role as supporters of designer-manufacturing in Portland, we would like to take our house clothing line to a national marketplace and give it the room it needs to grow... In the coming year, you will see a lot more coming out from our clothing company, including more complete lookbooks, collections, and boutique accounts around the city...

And will it become the Altar Houseline? Will it too become witchier in style?

The Altar Houseline (yes, it will be called that— or so we think right now. I am 89.9% certain) will definitely capture some witchy and bohemian elements. To some degree, I have to be honest with myself that I have always and will always just design clothing that I want to wear. I don't like over-stated designs... I don't want to be a caricature of gothy clothing... I want to make very clean silhouettes with luscious, wonderful fabric. We are a print focused clothing company, and we adore that beautiful definition that we have found in our textiles. You can expect dark, silky florals, soft comfortable chiffon blouses, and clothing that is meant to be sexy and tasteful. What you won't see from us is some of the kitchy-fun stuff we designed in the past. The hyperbolic prints... we have loved them in the past, but they have always felt a little young for us.

What about the lines now carried in the shop? How much will that shake up?

Not all of the lines at Mag-Big currently are going to change; we will still proudly carry the lines that we feel have inspired and carried us into this new phase such as: Foxtail Jewelry, AmiRa Jewlery, Imaginary Authors Perfume, Deer Dog Apothecary, Sara Bergman Apparel, Barrow... just to name a few. Obviously, over the years, I have had the incredible fortune of getting to know most of the designer-manufacturing community of Portland, so I am going to select the creme de la creme and feature them more prominently. Additionally, we are now able to open ourselves up to other American-made brands that we have been crushing on for years... Mag-Big has "secretly-not-so-secretly" been featuring "visiting artists" since our first few months open because there are companies from all over the United States that I love. Now, we have a new store that will synthesize everything.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Results of the Portland Made Survey

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Mon, Oct 6, 2014 at 11:44 AM

On Friday at ADX, the Portland Made collective celebrated national Manufacturing Day with a party featuring remarks from Earl Blumenauer, Jules Bailey, and Nick Fish, followed by a presentation of a survey taken and analyzed by Charles Heying, Ph.D, who you likely remember as the author of Brew to Bikes: Portland’s Artisan Economy. (The survey was based on Portland Made members responses, along with supplemental data from RefUSA.)

Part of an ongoing effort to create metrics that account for the economic impact of the city's small manufacturers—metrics that can attract investment and influence legislation—here are some highlights:

• 83% of enterprises have been in operation 10 years or less, 63% five years or less.

• Three have been in operation for 30+ years and produce 90% of revenues and 70% of jobs: "The lesson is not to ignore the numerous small young enterprises but to nourish them. Two (2) of the three (3) large enterprises, that have such an outsize impact, were started in small studios by founders trained in the arts, with a passion for their craft and the ability to turn that passion into something substantial."

• "When enterprises reach the threshold category of $500,000-1 million in revenues, they make a dramatic shift from part time to full time employees. Below that revenue threshold, the balance between part time and full time employees is roughly equal. Above the threshold, the ratio of full time to part time is fiveto one (5:1)."

• "Respondents reported very positive revenue growth with an average of sixty-one percent (61%) cumulative for the last three years... Enterprises with revenues of $50-100,000 report nearly doubling of size over the last three years."

• "As expected, PMC members rely on local markets, with forty six [percent] (46%) of sales generated in Portland and another sixteen percent (16%) from the Northwest. But surprisingly thirty percent (30%) of reported sales came from the US outside the Northwest, and eight percent (8%) were international.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Old Town Chinatown's Bright Retail Future

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Wed, Sep 24, 2014 at 12:44 PM

There was a time not so long ago when downtown retail suffered a 12 percent vacancy rate, spurring a coalition of private and public forces to concentrate their efforts on developing a thriving shopping corridor. The most notable effort, perhaps, was a series of holiday-season pop-up shops that featured local makers and retailers, some of which developed into permanent fixtures like Crafty Wonderland and Boys Fort. You can also thank those efforts for the influx of biggies like H&M and Sephora.

Now some of those same efforts—Portland Business Association, Portland Development Commission, Downtown Clean & Safe—are broadening their scope, recasting Old Town Chinatown as a new land of opportunity, something that's already been playing out in discussions over housing development. For one thing, this year will see the return of the pop-up project, this time located on NW 5th and Couch, featuring three local businesses that target the creative class, athletic/outdoor, and the neighborhood's cultural heritage. Additionally, PBA Retail Program Director Lisa Frisch says they are actively recruiting local retailers, particularly those who have been priced out of other neighborhoods, keeping the focus on independent shops rather than the nationals in SW, and taking advantage of the area's lower rents, including office spaces that are being converted back into storefronts.

November 13 is the tentative date for the relaunch of the pop-up, which will also be joined by another "yarn-bombing" effort (you probably recall the public art downtown appearing with scarves and hats last year), and at least three free parking days to encourage shoppers to plop their holiday dollars downtown. In the meantime, anyone interested in opening up shop can check out the recruitment package for businesses of the following types:

· Independent Restaurants - catering to breakfast, lunch, and dinner markets; neighborhood and fine-dining (destination) restaurants
· Businesses Reflecting the District’s Heritage - supporting the multi-ethnic heritage and character of the district
· Hospitality and Entertainment Venues- appealing to a broad range of demographics
· “Creative Class” Retail - specialty retail unique to the District such as Compound, Upper Playground, and Hand Eye Supply
· Grocery Concepts - small scale, specialty grocery/food options
· Basic Neighborhood Services for residents-dry cleaners, banks, pharmacy, and service retail

Look for more info on the upcoming holiday efforts—as well as details on already slated projects like the Grove Hotel and Pine Street Market—to start leaking imminently.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Adorn Expands with Second Shop on SE Division

Posted by Elizabeth Mollo on Tue, Sep 23, 2014 at 8:59 AM


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.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Grayling Finalist in 2014's Martha Stewart American Made Contest

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Thu, Sep 18, 2014 at 8:59 AM

It's not the first time a Portland talent has been a finalist in the Martha Stewart American Made contest, but it's awesome to see a longtime favorite in the mix: Grayling jewelry has the opportunity to be one of nine judges' picks (or one people's choice winner). If so:

a trip for two to New York City to attend the American Made event; a spot in our American Made Market; $10,000 to grow your business; a video produced by our in-house team; and the opportunity to be featured in Martha Stewart Living magazine, on SiriusXM radio, and on our website.

If you want to give Grayling a boost, you can vote for them here. Kind of weirdly, each person can vote up to five times a day through October 13, and if you really want to support them, hit social media with the hashtag #votegrayling

  • Grayling via Martha Stewart

Monday, September 15, 2014

More on PAL; More PAL to Come

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Mon, Sep 15, 2014 at 9:59 AM

Wednesday night was the first "launch" event of the Portland Apparel Lab, and I'm using quotes because the thing won't launch anywhere unless PAL founders Crispin Argento and Dawn Moothart can get enough people/designers interested in Honolulu timeshares not-so-cheap membership commitments. I don't think anyone was expecting the crowd to be at capacity, but it was, and that seems to be something that can be taken as a promising sign for the endeavor.

The presentation of the PAL model itself was dense and heavy on numbers—several people I spoke to afterward were confused on some of the essential info—and I hope people take Argento and Moothart up on their willingness to discuss it in more detail in smaller groups or one-on-one. Sticker shock is also understandable—we're talking about $575 initiation + $175 month for a "Co-Founder/Partner Membership w/ full General Membership" (and the web site could do a much better job of explaining the membership levels), although there was also mention of a la carte options. (And ostensibly PAL would replace the need to rent a studio.) It certainly seems worth exploring the range of options available to tailor to each interested business.

My main concerns: Though much of PAL's model relies on relationships built with players in other cities with more established industry presence, Argento and Moothart remain the only names officially associated with the project. Also, the acquisition of a physical space and qualified staff to execute PAL successfully is going to require a lot of money. There have been many allusions to investor interest, but it wouldn't hurt to be able to give some kind of signal that this money is really waiting if only Portland can prove it's interested.

The bottom line is that I think much still needs to be discussed. A follow-up email blast promised, "Two additional PAL launch events are planned for October and November 2014 (TBA). We also are considering having weekly brown bag lunches and happy hours to discuss specific concepts, services, programs, and get additional feedback, ideas and expertise on how to shape PAL." I plan to attend as many of these as I can once dates and times are announced. Another final thought: For now, the financial commitment is a $75 application fee. That's what at risk just to find out if this even moves forward. And while $6k+ for a first year of PAL membership is a lot of dough to come up with tomorrow, I think most people who were serious about it could raise that in the year-plus we've got before the project is expected to actually launch. For example, it's a pretty humble goal in the context of most crowd-funded projects. I'm also thinking about alternatives… Continue to struggle along? Come up with a better idea? Or take a leap of faith on this?


Monday, August 25, 2014

Union Rose Makes A Transition

Posted by Katie Guinn on Mon, Aug 25, 2014 at 2:59 PM

Our favorite clothing shop in Montavilla, Union Rose has supported local fashion for 7 years now. It will continue to be a go-to for Portland made goods, but under a new owner and it just so happens to be Rita Hudson-Evalt. You may recognize that name because she is behind the Hubris Apparel line that is a prominent seller at Union Rose. Nicole Prevost, founder of Union Rose says she appreciates the open arms she's received over the years as well as the support of her own line, Big Brown Eyes. She says it's time to move on and try other things.

Founder Nicole Prevost
  • Founder Nicole Prevost

"I am so excited and honored to be taking the helm at Union Rose!" says Rita. "It was one of the first shops to carry Hubris Apparel. My line has grown into a brand sold nationally because of the kindness and encouragement that Nicole, the clientele, and the shop itself have fostered."

"I fully intend to continue to support designers' growth in Portland and the Pacific Northwest through the best way I know - offering their products to happy customers. You can expect to see some new apparel, jewelry, and gifts in the shop soon! Of course, we'll still carry all the lines now found at Union Rose, but I'll work on expanding our selection as well."

Says Rita.
Hubris Apperal Deisgner and New Union Rose Owner, Rita Hudson-Evalt
  • Hubris Apperal Deisgner and New Union Rose Owner, Rita Hudson-Evalt

To celebrate this handover, Union Rose is having a First Friday event on September 5th 6-9pm to welcome Rita as the new head hancho. All regular priced apparel and jewelry will be 15% off.

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Retail Shuffle

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Mon, Aug 11, 2014 at 12:59 PM

If three's a trend, four is too many to ignore. Four of Portland's higher profile independent clothing(-ish) shops have either recently moved or are in the process of doing so, so in the interest of supplying you with the two hands needed to find one's own ass, please note the following:

Stand Up Comedy is leaving its 811 E Burnside digs at the end of September, and expect to be open October 1 at 511 SW Broadway—aka the Morgan's Alley building. Says owner Diana Kim, "The new spot will be quite different, aesthetically speaking, as it has its own powerful architectural presence... And Broadway has a big appeal for us, being the traditional/historical retail block, but being sort of deeply unsexy in its current state." Ha!

—Speaking of 811 flight, Nationale is also pulling up stakes to head into the pandemonium of 3360 SE Division this fall. It's bigger, and the gallery will have its own separate space, with more room to fill out the product offerings as well.

Poler has vacated its flagship store in the Blackbox at 1300 W Burnside, with Aesop quietly taking over. Their new home will be just around the corner, in one of the most coveted buildings in downtown (as seen from SW 11th & Washington):

  • Poler via Facebook

—Also afoot in the West End are talks of Frances May looking at a potential move to a larger location, and a new tenant for the current space hot on its heels, with more to be announced next month.

A change could do you good, you know?

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Portland Apparel Lab (and the Hopefully Hopeful Future of Manufacturing in General)

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Thu, Aug 7, 2014 at 5:23 PM

After the summer kicked off with both a City Club forum dedicated to stoking the economic development of Portland's independent fashion industry and a months-long regional fashion exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Craft, it's been a year of unprecedented attention for the local industry. I've personally been attending the meetings of a committee that formed in the wake of the City Club event, a nice bit of follow-through from an influential organization.

It seems other things are also afoot: Those who track the whereabouts of PINO's Crispin Argento (I won't ask) may have noticed that the necktie designer and intrepid networker hasn't been spending much time here in Portland. Turns out he's been spending the last six months traversing the country to lay the groundwork for something called the Portland Apparel Lab:

The Portland Apparel Lab (PAL) is a full service member-supported apparel and lifestyle business accelerator providing early stage strategic and operational support and training to entrepreneurs in launching and cultivating the lifestyle businesses of tomorrow. PAL is committed to supporting the next generation of apparel and accessories designers in Portland.

PAL advises and guides the business end of apparel and accessory ventures from concept exploration and business planning through product development, production and marketing stages under three primary service divisions: Strategize, Design and Activate. In addition, PAL oversees Market, a full-service sales and showroom division, and Grow (Portland Designer Fund), a grant, loan and equity placement program for high-growth potential lifestyle brands in need of start-up capital.

PAL provides a professional creative collaborative environment with streamlined and affordable access to services, resources, programs and valued industry relationships for its members to successfully launch, grow and become thriving lifestyle businesses.

I promised Argento I wouldn't get too far into any of the details he gave me over our epic lunch meeting until he's able to furnish me with all the propers in writing. The scope of the thing is huge, and there is quite a bit to explain. Argento is planning to give his first public presentation of the model on September 10 at MoCC (appropriately enough), though there will probably be several such opportunities for people to ask questions and for Argento to determine whether there is enough designer interest to make this thing viable.

There is a lot of fatigue in Portland's fashion community when it comes to conversations and attempts to do something that somehow galvanizes the talent here and marries it with the resources and infrastructure needed to grow middle class (and higher) jobs within the city's apparel sector. (I suffer from it too.) But if Argento can deliver what he thinks he can... well, it just might work this time, though it will ultimately rely on the interest of local designers. If you're in the Portland industry and have ever complained about aspects of your production, materials sourcing, business guidance, and the sheer cost of producing and marketing a collection, etc, you should at least hear him out.

On a slightly tangential note: One of the other things I've become involved with of late is a series of Friday lunches and conversations about local manufacturing called Lunch Wagon at ADX. It's still really new, but so far I've moderated discussions with people who directly manufacture products as well as those who incubate them—it's not at all limited to fashion, but has included electronics, food, and beyond. Tomorrow I'll be talking to a bicycle manufacturer who is turning the process on its ear, for instance. The theme that's quickly emerging is that, across industries, current modes of manufacturing aren't working anymore, and people are inventing new models that are better adapted to an evolving set of tools and priorities. It's interesting conversation, of course, but it also dovetails nicely with what Argento is trying to do in an apparel-specific context. (Directly fashion related: The Portland Garment Factory will be the guest for the August 22 edition).

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that it's been refreshingly heartening to witness people being *successfully* proactive about changing the way things work in their respective sectors in the face of broken systems, I'd love to see the same thing happen in meaningful ways within a community I've invested so much of my own work and enthusiasm in, and I think we can all learn a lot from each other.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Cargo's New Digs

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Tue, Aug 5, 2014 at 11:14 AM

Longtime Portland import-retailer Cargo (which also has an adorable mini-me in Astoria) began on Portland's eastside before becoming one of the early adopters of the Pearl District 16 years ago. With their lease coming up, partners Patty Merrill and Bridgid Blackburn took advantage of the window to make a change, and set their sights back across the river, where they industrial grit and bohemianism they favor hasn't been polished out of existence. They were able to purchase 30,000 square feet of warehouse space at 81 SE Yamhill.

The building was built in 1908, and has suffered very little alteration, leaving the soaring brick walls, freight elevator, and windows (though they've been boarded up) intact. At a time when worry is growing that the development powers that be are looking to the central eastside as another potential Pearl, it's somewhat comforting to have one of its buildings come under the ownership of a business that takes a preservationist approach. In fact they intend to expand wholesale manufacturing of their own, with an increase in space that's roughly double what they're leaving behind. The top floor will be rented as creative office space (Blackburn agreed when I commented that I hoped the tenants would go easy on the drywall and leave the open floor plan), and Kure Juice Bar will inhabit a narrow ground level retail space that will integrate with the shop floor such that its glassed-in top will be visible from above.

Blackburn says the added space and relocation away from a heavily tourist area will give them more freedom to accumulate the merchandise that moves them along with traditional best sellers, and they're excited to be in a neighborhood that's been accumulating more design-oriented furniture and antiques spaces, like the relatively new Grand Avenue Marketplace. It often seems like Portland's independent business scene is dominated by relatively young ventures (I imagine Cargo in its early days as something akin to Alder & Co.), and it's nice to see an older standby that's survived the city's tumultuous economy not only hanging on but thriving and evolving.

They're tracking an opening in early fall, ideally with some overlap in the old location (380 NW 13th), where big sales are going down in advance of the transition.





Friday, July 25, 2014

The Problem with Project Runway

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Fri, Jul 25, 2014 at 11:14 AM

You could hardly be blamed for not realizing that a new season of Project Runway aired last night (for one thing, I didn't tell you, since there's isn't a strong enough Portland connection for me to watch it either—Korina Emmerich did go to Portland's Art Institute, though she wasn't active on the local scene otherwise, and now lives in New York). This great Washington Post article by Robin Givhan articulates the show's most fundamental problem: 13 seasons in it has yet to produce "America’s next big name designer,” while similar reality competitions in the fields of music and cooking have. The closest to it has been Christian Siriano, though even his headway has been relatively modest.

“Project Runway” hasn’t told a story of triumph as much as it has, over time, offered a nuanced tale about what success means in today’s fashion industry, why it is so difficult and why it mostly has nothing to do with having one’s name up in lights — or on the New York Stock Exchange. In its particular failure to produce another Michael Kors, the show has brilliantly illuminated the realities of fashion for the public to see.

Givhens also makes the observation what a career in fashion looks like in modern times is evolving, and "a slower, bumpier journey" than it was even 20 years ago. There's also the point that, "Despite the importance of it, business acumen is minimally discussed." That sentiment has been shared over and over in recent discussions concerning the future viability of fashion design happening here in Portland, too. Moreover, the show's arguably most successful alumni are those who have set their sites more modestly, and grown their businesses in their own communities rather than swinging for the fences, unlike what the hyperbole-drenched marketing of the show would suggest.

It's like it's accidentally uncovered more reality than it intended to, which is interesting for industry watchers, but an increasing bummer for ratings.

David Lynch Co-Designs a Line of Sportswear

Posted by Elizabeth Mollo on Fri, Jul 25, 2014 at 9:59 AM

It seems the many facets of David Lynch's talent are never ending. In his latest venture, he has co-designed a capsule collection of women's sportswear for the company Live the Process. Co-designed with model Alyssa Miller, the collection features bras, leggings, shorts, and T-shirts and is available in a limited edition floral print. Part of the proceeds benefit the David Lynch Foundation, which is dedicated to teaching meditation to young victims of post-traumatic stress disorder and abuse.


On a related note, if you want to support something local, you should add your dollars to the possible screening of the David Lynch directed film Fire Walk with Me at Hollywood Theater on August 1. It's part of their This is Your Film series and they just need 30 more paid tickets to make it happen. Seriously, who doesn't want to see Laura Palmer drinking tiny bottles of booze and doing blow by herself in her bedroom on the big screen?

Source: The Independent

Friday, July 18, 2014

Day 3 of My Residency at Museum of Contemporary Craft

Posted by Cassie Ridgway on Fri, Jul 18, 2014 at 10:49 AM

Yesterday was my third day of residency at the Museum of Contemporary Craft's "Fashion Safehouse." I am still tirelessly striving to create one garment per day from scratch. That is: designing, patterning, cutting, sewing, and finishing. My pristine “safe house” is now certifiably a little more reminiscent of my normal sew shop (meaning: I trashed the place). What once were clean surfaces and floors and now covered in threads, serger chains, scrap fabric, and textile dust.

Me, Day 3 in the Museum Safehouse

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Day One of My Residency at The Museum of Contemporary Craft

Posted by Cassie Ridgway on Wed, Jul 16, 2014 at 12:26 PM

Yesterday was my first day of residency at the Museum Of Contemporary Craft’s “Fashion Safehouse” installation. As a part of the Fashioning Cascadia exhibit for the Summer, curator Sarah Margolis-Pineo has selected four artists in residence to occupy a sewing work space designed by Otto Von Busch. The concept is to create a dedicated place for uninhibited design while simultaneously opening up the design process to the public for viewing. I am completely honored and humbled (and nervous) to be the Portland-based artist in residency, as the other artists include Stephanie Syjuco, Adrienne Antonson, and Drew Cameron.

the Fashion Safehouse, designed by Otto Von Busch

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Friday, June 27, 2014

Top Model: Julian Assange

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Fri, Jun 27, 2014 at 10:59 AM

You have to be a little bit jealous of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's mounting resume, to which he has already recently added opening up for MIA and giving informal life coaching, and now: modeling. Word broke today that Ben Westwood (son of Vivienne) is carrying on the family tradition for provocation (not to mention courting controversy to draw attention to his collection) by announcing that he's cast Assange to model in the London Fashion Week presentation, given that the clothing is "influenced by costumes worn by Clint Eastwood’s western films and also Assange’s combat-beret look." There's also at least one garment Westwood says features "a Julian Assange print." We'll have to wait until September to see what exactly a Julian Assange print is, but... it sounds kind of awesome?

Monday, June 23, 2014


Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Mon, Jun 23, 2014 at 10:29 AM

Maybe you've noticed that this rad former service station on N Interstate and Skidmore has been undergoing a transformation over the past few months:


It's been becoming Associated... again:

  • Associated via Facebook

The space was taken over three months ago by Aaron Hoskins, Corey Davis, Caitlin Troutman, and Amanda Yakisoba (full disclosure: Hoskins and Troutman are friends of mine), who have transformed the '30s-era structure into a cafe, antique/collectibles store, and HQ for "artistic services":

We wish to facilitate, encourage, and encompass the Creative economy:
the idea is to offer not only wares (antiques and collectibles) but a physical platform for ideas: to allow other merchants and creative artisans a place to come together and manifest their ideas in a community setting, while simultaneously offering a stylized events venue for film, fashion, photography, performance art, music, etc.

Associated had their soft opener last night, and are officially opening doors next week on July 4. Hoskins has incredible taste when it comes to design, and word is that Portland makers like Mike Spencer and Hazel Cox will be represented on the retail side, while Stumptown Coffee, Fressen Artisan Bakery (yum, pretzels), and Farina Bakery will be on offer in the small cafe space. They're positioned to be "a landmark for the rebirth of the NeonSignDistrict," and even if antiques, plants, and local small goods aren't your bag, it seems like that neighborhood is in need of a good coffee joint. Check 'em out while the sun is shining and the outdoor seating is plentiful.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Buh-Bye: Dov Charney Fired from His Own Company, American Apparel

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Thu, Jun 19, 2014 at 9:57 AM

A lot of people have been waiting for a long time to see American Apparel founder Dov Charney take a fall. The company's suggestive advertisements have been accused of more crimes against feminism than pairs of boy-cut panties sold, and Charney has personally come under fire, mostly for sexual harassment-related transgressions, both formally charged and rumored. But if one measure of success is founding a company that gets big enough to fire you, Charney has succeeded. His ousting was announced late yesterday, "amid a continuing investigation," and whatever the degree to which his behavior was a factor in the decision, the company's financial under-performance was no doubt also a major consideration, as shares in the company have plummeted in the past half-decade. Interestingly, investors reacted to the news of his ouster with a 14 percent rise in pre-market trading this morning.

Despite the criticisms, I've always thought American Apparel has played an important role in spreading the idea of Made in USA clothing among shop-happy youth. AA's own factories have received criticism as well, but at least as voting citizens we have the theoretical ability to control their regulation instead of something located in a remote corner of a country most of us will never visit. It's one of the only gateways to the discussion of apparel-industry reform and domestic reclamation of manufacturing among the big-boxes. As to whether Charney's exit means the company's ads will take a different tack, I suppose that remains to be seen.

Incidentally, if you are a fan of AA's core conveniences (trendy basics in every color of the rainbow), local apparel company Reif posted a photo the other day from their forthcoming line of underpinnings, with the caption, "Coming soon for fall - your fave new bralette #reifbasik #aw14 #apexbralette #oneineverycolor"

  • Reif via Instagram

Monday, June 16, 2014

Sword + Fern to Leave E Burnside

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Mon, Jun 16, 2014 at 9:46 AM

Emily Baker's Sword + Fern is one of the city's most unique, personal shops. In addition to showcasing its in-house line of wildly popular jewelry, Baker has used it to gather small vintage housewares, art, plants, a line of wildcrafted apothecary products, books, posters, and more. Despite its tiny size, its always invited careful exploration since opening back in 2008, and as such it's been a popular stop for shoppers and out-of-town press alike, helping to pave the lower E Burnside area into the shopping destination it is now.

So, it's a little sad to hear that Baker is closing the E Burnside shop at the end of this month until a new location can be sussed out. In the meantime, Baker is offering 40% off in honor of their anniversary (online code: HAPPY6) until the end of the month, and the online shop isn't going anywhere. Now is an excellent time to get some of the rad, new-agey vibes Baker throws down into your life until her next move becomes apparent.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

"Prairie Porn" and Product: Kinfolk's Ouur

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Wed, Apr 30, 2014 at 10:59 AM

It's been somewhat difficult to keep track of all the ways Portland's been made fun of in the national media over the past couple weeks between our urine-phobic water management and twee adverts for failed insurance web sites, so don't feel too bad if you missed the NYT's shot aimed at the Portland-based Kinfolk magazine:

The publication has gained a foothold with the international design-foodie elite for its elegant white pages showing little more than beautiful, dreamy young (mostly white) people, wearing loose braids, knit caps, calico skirts and plenty of comfy flannel and doing earthy things like communing over groaning boards of roasted garden vegetables, diving into swimming holes and lazily traversing the world’s byways on vintage bikes with picnic baskets affixed to them.

Heh. Someone was just telling me a few days ago that they and their partner have an inside joke whenever they spot especially perfect, preciously presented Portlanders on the street, quietly asking each other, "Oh, are those the Kinfolk people?" This piece solidifies it: Kinfolk is officially a cultural touchstone. And while the Times article is most interested in poking at its aesthetic as a super-white, Depression-fetish publication, wherein "nobody is shoveling a smelly Chipotle lunch into his or her mouth while toiling in an ugly beige cubicle, nobody owns any appliances or vehicles built after 1970, and certainly nobody is wasting time playing video games on an Android while lounging around in technical-fabric gym-wear," there's also a footnote about Ouur, the publication's expansion into home goods and apparel, which the company officially announced yesterday.

Currently it's only available in Japan, with North American access coming later this year. The clothing emphasizes natural fabrics like linen, cotton and wool and neutral palette, which is certainly consistent with their aesthetic:

  • Tec Petaja

Important questions remain, like where the products are made (the press release mentions US denim manufacturers and fabric sources from Western Europe and Lithuania as well as a variety of Japanese sources), where you'll be able to find them, and what the price point will look like, but the designs seem representative of the stated aim to be "easily interchangeable, comfortable and functional."

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Madewell Is Coming

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Tue, Apr 15, 2014 at 2:29 PM

Diesel's Portland store may still be searching for a new home, but Madewell wasted no time claiming their former brewery blocks space, at 30 NW 12th. The windows have been papered over for months, but now the chain—albeit a rather beloved chain—is poised to open officially on April 30. I don't really get it why so many of my friends are doing the pee dance over this; their designs are nice, and the prices are kinda-sorta cheap I guess, but not H&M or Forever 21 cheap. The dresses listed under current new arrivals are simple and cute, in the $140-170 range, with tops at around $70-100, but they go over the $200 mark for mixed-in higher end labels like Whit. It's not much of a reach at all just to patronize one of your locally owned boutiques, you know (there's an argument in here about how larger chains' arrivals create a trickle down effect to the smaller guys, which I would like to believe out of optimism), but whatever: Portland's Madewell. April 30. Be happy, Madewell fans, and consider yourselves informed.

  • Madewell

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