Last month, Caleb Sayan, the co-founder of Textile Hive—a collection of more than 40,000 different textiles from 50 countries, crammed into 700 square feet in the Pearl—was in Japan, on a three-week hunt for fabrics to bring home. He returned to Portland just in time for the inaugural Portland Textile Month, currently being celebrated by area artists, schools, and designers.
The textile celebration boasts seminars and workshops that kicked off with an opening party October 1. Sayan says event organizers, including Textile Hive, designed the itinerary to be multi-faceted, welcoming people with varying areas of expertise.
“Even if people don’t have a background in textiles, and they work in other disciplines, whether it’s interactive or web design, I think it will yield a lot of inspiration and there will be things they can take from it,” he says. “It’s very design focused and not meant to be a textile showcase.”
As a former New Yorker and lifelong fabric enthusiast, Sayan took inspiration from New York Textile Month. He used his familiarity with the cities' differences (like Portland’s smaller size) to create a cross-pollinated, localized adaptation.
“The thing I liked about New York Textile Month is that it’s a combination of the institutional, the academic, and the business,” says Sayan. “So we kind of borrowed the model to see if we could make it happen here in Portland.”
While many of the events are ticketed and some require registration, others are free—inviting attendees to get their foot in the door. While they’re at it, guests can make connections in the sprawling fashion and interior design community, while bringing local textiles out from behind the scenes and into the spotlight. Here are five events you shouldn't miss.
5:30 p.m. Thu, Oct 11, Textile Hive, FREE
If you've never witnessed a library of 40,000 fabrics all housed together, here is your chance. Artist in residence Palmarin Merges will walk you through her experience there and discuss her desire to make items more sustainable by using items on hand.
5 p.m. Fri, Oct 12, Pensole, FREE
Get an insider glimpse into the world of athletic apparel with a tour of Pensole and its Color & Material Resource and Design Studio. These industry experts will walk you through the entire process, from inspiration and concept to development, design process, problem solving, color, materials, prototyping, marketing, business, networking, and branding. Phew!
4 p.m. Thu, Oct 25 (opening party, with pop-up thru Oct 27), Kat + Mouche, FREE
A three-day pop-up shop curated by the Stockplier series hosts several prominent names in this textured world, including Emily Katz and Trish Langman. Stop into the opening party on after work and stay for a talk on the history of Berber rugs as culture objects. These rugs have become a mainstay of a stylish home, yet the Berber culture remains one of the least studied.
6 p.m. Fri, Oct 26, Kat + Mouche, $15
The Sustainable Fashion Forum group, which puts on an annual event during Design Week Portland, hosts a roundtable talk about the amount of fabric waste generated each year by the fashion industry. Panelists hail from stellar local brands like VAVA Lingerie, Kiriko, and Minnie & George.
1 p.m. Sat, Oct 13, Fiber Rhythm Craft and Design, FREE
Witness the beauty of knitting machines in action. Expect knitting samples galore, including double jacquard, ribbing, fair isle, and intarsia. Then sit down and learn how to knit an afghan square yourself.