Our 5 Fashion Picks for Design Week Portland

From a building full of fashion installations to a forum on sustainability, here's a quintet of can't-miss style events.

By Eden Dawn April 10, 2018

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A collage of images from the 811 Building designers.

Design Week Portland returns on April 14 for the sixth year with an ever-expanding portfolio of coverage. Executive director Tsilli Pines (check out our Q&A with her) has made specific efforts to include Portland’s fashion community within Design Week, asking me to join the advisory board in an effort to try and bring in more events such as Construct and Fashion in Film or make connections to producers in the community. (Consider this sentence my full disclosure on my relationship with this year's DWP.)

Style's inclusion matters. While there are obviously differences between designing a dress, creating a new typeface, or decking out a series of kitchens, all forms of design boil down to two ideas—concept and execution. People interested in all forms of design can peek into different industries and see how creatives handle their journey from thought to completion.

So, for the fashion and style-curious crowd, here are five events you can't miss.

The Fattest Gap in Design

9–10:30 a.m. Tue, April 17, Room & Board, 380 NW 13th, $10

Portland’s plus-size fashion scene is strong with darlings like Chubby Cartwheels and Copper Union. But as we look at the need for plus-size clothing verses the traditional offerings by fashion houses, we come to the Fat Gap.

Event Details
AllGo CEO Rebecca Alexander, Chubstr CEO Bruce Sturgell, and Łush Kumtux Tumtum Consulting Principal Shilo George join forces to offer this one-of-a-kind event to expose huge gaps in designing for fat bodies. With limited products designed with their bodies in mind, fat people are masters of DIY: creating solutions often overlooked by professionals. While body positive messaging is more prevalent than ever, the world has been slow embrace inclusivity in its design of physical spaces and products. This fun, interactive event will feature a show and tell of our favorite and least favorite products. We'll also provide a framework for designers to serve this expanding market in a respectful and thoughtful manner. As fat people ourselves, we are personally motivated to inspire size-inclusive design across all fields. Here’s to everything from well-tailored suits to sturdy, beautiful chairs for everyone! 

Fashion in Film: The Cell

7:30 p.m. Tue, April 17, The Hollywood Theater, 4122 NE Sandy Blvd, $9  

Fashion in Film, the quarterly film series I curate with fashion writer Marjorie Skinner, highlights iconic costuming in pop culture, but also brings in local designers to showcase work that vibes with the film.

Event Details
Fashion in Film celebrates its 4th anniversary with a special Design Week showing of the dark costume fantasy The Cell. The Y2K-era film left audiences praising the stunning visuals and costumes in this convoluted plotline that follows a psychotherapist (Jennifer Lopez) who's developed a technique that lets her dive into her patients subconscious-each time in a look more amazing than the last. She enters into the mind of a comatose serial killer (Vincent D'Onofrio) after an FBI agent (Vince Vaughn) asks for her help to find his last victim clinging to life imprisoned in an unknown chamber. Makes sense, right?

See the double-Vince-action, and one killer costume after another on the big screen, with a special presentation of local leather line Colty beforehand. The gender-neutral line has become quite the showstopper of Portland fashion shows this year with their bondage gear, bags, and accessories walking the runway by snake draped models, creepy twins, and Minotaur men. It's a full night of fashion, not for the faint of heart.

Disruptive Design Thinking: Pushing Boundaries in Design and Development

6–9 p.m. Wed, April 18, Nemo Design, 1875 SE Belmont St, $75 

Even within the fashion industry, design modalities are as varied as any given Portlander’s dietary restrictions. Development house Creative Capital gathers together creative from distinct steps within the process to talk about how they get ‘er done.

Event Details
Shake up your design strategy with advice from a panel of experts in innovative design thinking. Industry leaders will offer up their experiences and advice for pushing beyond consumer expectations, into game-changing, disruptive design. Consumers get tired of how things are "supposed" to look. Leave behind traditional commercial design thinking, and learn tools to help you stay relevant and move your work in new directions. Designers, brand managers, and students, we'll help you freshen up your methods to generate boundary-pushing ideas that make your products stand out. Panelist include bespoke couture designer Sonia Kasparian of Urchin, textile Trish Langman Spoogi whose client list includes the likes of Ralph Lauren and Halston, Mark Lewman a principle at Nemo Design with a focus on attractive the coveted youth demographic, and Matthew Rhoades of MatteLab, former Nike Global Creative Director with a impressive resume too long to list.


6–9 p.m. Fri, April 20, 811 E Burnside, FREE 

The 811 E Burnside Building is a little bit of magic. The hub of women-owned shops and studio spaces houses some of our best in the independent fashion scene in a one-stop shopping scenario. They let their creative minds run free in this ephemeral event, with designer Alexa Stark teasing at least 20 performers involved in her secret room display.

Event Details
The clothing and accessories designer owned businesses of the 811 E Burnside building will convert their shops/maker spaces into a multi-room fashion installation for one night only. Visitors can travel room to room to experience transformed spaces in a special night seeing models and multi-media displays from some of Portland’s most familiar names in fashion: Portland's finest long standing independent women wear designers Holly Stalder and Kate Towers, textile masters Anna Joyce and Alexa Stark, luxe, detailed accessories from Boet, limited edition leather pieces from xobruno in collaboration with guest jeweler/designer Teresa Robinson of Tiro Tiro, and womenswear designer Liza Rietz show her tailored line along with hosting guest fashion designer Rachel Ancliffe and jewelry maker Lauren Main of Revere Metal Works. Vava Lingerie will host a pop up shop with local designers including Laurs Kemp. As a building wide event, neighboring retail shops will be open late with special sales and refreshments.

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A promo shot from the Sustainable Fashion Forum showcasing a dress by local designer Lizz Basinger.

2nd Annual Sustainable Fashion Forum

Noon–8 p.m. p.m. Sat, April 21, Yale Union, 800 SE 10th Ave, $35

As the world becomes more conscientious in its consumption, industries have to take a look at how they can increase responsibility in their fields. How can the fashion industry—an industry that produces clothing waste, chemical dye runoff, and other badness by the metric ton—make steps towards a sustainable future? The Sustainable Fashion Forum, one of DWP’s core events of the year, spends a day with a panel of experts trying to get to the bottom of the question.

Event Details
Founded on the principles of discovery, education, leadership, and innovation, the Sustainable Fashion Forum is a one-day experience connecting fashion's industry professionals and insiders with its community to spark an intimate and informative conversation about ethical and sustainable fashion.

The first of its kind, the Sustainable Fashion Forum is a platform that looks to the future by fostering an honest and open dialogue about the social and environmental effects fashion has on our world and what we can do individually and collectively to improve it. From a series of intimate conversations to a live fashion show and presentation, the Sustainable Fashion Forum is where the fashion community can gather with the belief that together, we can create change.

The festivities will begin with two panel discussions. The first panel will be between local eco-bloggers/sustainability influencers who will discuss the effects the fashion industry has on the world from a consumer’s standpoint, why they've chosen to embark on a style journey with sustainability and consciousness in mind. The second panel will be between local designers and fashion’s top industry leaders about the obstacles and opportunities faced in the effort to create ethically-made and fashion-forward clothing.

Panelist Include: 
Andrea Hartman, Season's + Salt 
Davora Lindner, Prairie Underground 
Angela Medlin, The Functional Apparel and Accessories Studio (FAAS)/Pensole 
Chloe Lepeltier, Conscious by Chloe 
Ellie Hughes, Selflessly Styled 
Whitney Bauck, Fashionista 
Andrea Plell, Fashion Revolution, Ecologiq Fashion 
Allison Karaba, The Thoughtful Closet 
Dre & Len Allen, Ecovibe Apparel 
Carly Mick, Keen Footwear

Following the panel discussions, Modified Style Portland's, Environmental Consultant Kelly Raynor will speak about sustainability in fashion followed by a live fashion show featuring the sustainable designs from some of Portland's premier local designers.

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