The Portland Garment Factory Is Back in Style
What do you get when you cross an effortlessly cool fashion designer, a swanky modern architect, a team of 20+ creatives, a handful of industrial sewing machines, and a seemingly-unassuming warehouse? A ridiculously artsy, 10,000 square foot office space, apparently. Last Friday, the Portland Garment Factory, a zero-waste design production company specializing in clothing and soft goods, celebrated the grand opening of its new Northeast location by hosting an “All Thrills No Frills” open house. (Though, from the live DJ set to the temporary tattoo station to the vintage fabric scrap collection, we’d argue that there were plenty of both).
Britt Howard, PGF’s founder and the aforementioned fashion designer, floated around the party in a floor-length, lime green satin gown and hot pink chiffon overcoat. Between posing for photos, cutting an elaborate cake that wouldn't have been out of place on the Netflix’s hit “Is It Cake?” and gently reminding her teenage children that their pick-up basketball game was in dangerously close proximity to the very breakable rosé bottles being served from the bar cart (the bar cart was a temporary party addition; the hoop is a permanent office feature)—you’d never guess that she lost 13 years' worth of work when the original Montavilla warehouse burned to the ground last year.
PGF has been a pioneer of sustainable clothing production since 2008, working with everyone from Nike to Coca Cola to smaller, independent designers. The company's stated goal is to “upend the traditional factory model, through ethical labor practices and environmental sustainability.” In practice, that means a zero-waste production model, in which every single piece of fabric gets used in one way or another. Scrap fabric, for example, is sent off to be pulverized, and is then used as filling in their puffier products, such as their PGF-brand Puff Bag and Laptop Puffer.
After the devastation of the fire at their original Montavilla location, it took six months before Howard and her crew were ready to take new commissions again, but only six weeks to find their new—and they hope, forever—home, the Southeast warehouse that was formerly home to Forge Parkour.
Howard and her team dreamed big for what they wanted in a new office space—high ceilings, garage doors, a basketball hoop—all of which they got, along with an open-concept, two-story, combination factory/office space; with a beautifully decorated kitchen complete with recycled basket-turned-hanging-light-fixtures and comfy lounge spaces. Overall, the attention to workplace productivity Feng Shui is impeccable. If there were ever a design emergency, you could just poke your head out from your desk and yell down to the production team.
In addition, PGF has recently relaunched its in-house gift shop, with a small batch selection of their own designs. Current pieces include a very large canvas Task Jacket, the previously noted Puff Bag and Laptop Puffer, a Soft Basketball (?) and a Best Beret—all of which make sense after meeting Howard.
If you missed PGF’s open house this past weekend and are dying for your very own Soft Basketball, have no fear. On June 11th-12th, PGF will be hosting the “Not-Quite-Perfect-Sale,” an Eileen Fisher Renew and PGF collab. They’ll be selling a ton of sustainable basics, says Howard, for super cheap (and if you’re an avid thrifter, you know that it's very difficult to come by a secondhand, basic white tee without some sort of yellowish stain on it.) Prices start at low as $5.