Over the years, the downtown holiday pop-up scene has produced some of our favorite brick-and-mortar shops—Boys Fort, Crafty Wonderland, and Solabees, just to name a few. We’re crossing our fingers for the magic to strike again for youth-run and social purpose enterprise dfrntpigeon. The youth org and urban apparel brand (pronounced “different pigeon”) has opened a holiday pop-up in Pioneer Place featuring gifts with social purpose for everyone on your holiday list—think graphic tees, ninja totes, and cat mugs.
And this is not just any regular pop-up: it's one of four businesses featured as part of PDX Pop-Up Shops, and it's run by young people, many who have faced homelessness.
With support and mentorship from New Avenues for Youth—a Portland nonprofit that has supported nearly 20,000 at-risk individuals with employment and job training since 1997—dfrntpigeon launched as a youth-run brand in 2015. Since its inception, dfrntpigeon has strived to create products that are not just fashion statements, but also change the perception of youth homelessness, giving young people the opportunity to get involved in the business and clothing-making processes.
“dfrntpigeon was born out of the youth vision and their identity,” says Jessica Elkan of New Avenues for Youth. “Our youth identify with pigeons in that a lot of times people walk by our youth and don’t see them as human. They don’t see them as having potential. Many of the young people who have been a part of this project are taking flight everyday. They are building their skills and many have found jobs.”
Since last spring, the company has released three unique collections, with the current one called "Community." It's full of graphic Ts, from Cardo’s PDX shirt celebrating the city to the Ten of Swords rose option (pictured below). The latter received design help from Olivia Lewis, dfrntpigeon's production assistant. Lewis has been involved with New Avenues for Youth for nearly four years, and says their time at dfrntpigeon has brought them immense fulfillment.
“I never figured I could do art for a living or any sort of way where it could feasibly sustain me,” they say. “But I see people wearing the things I create and the things my friends create. And I see people enjoying it, and it feels like maybe I can continue doing it.”
Thru Dec 24, Pioneer Place