Image: Yi Yin
Designs by Michael Costello (left, center) and Gordana Gehlhausen (right) at FashioNXT.

Portland has no problem in the creative aspects of fashion. Attend any one of our homegrown fashion shows, note the ever-growing press attention from big names like Elle Japan doing major features on our makers, and at this point I hear from the Project Runway casting directors more often than certain family members. What do we have problems with? Keeping our Portland-based businesses in Portland.

Though we’ve made some impressive strides with manufacturing locally (read our article on three companies making waves in the factory world), we still have our problems building sustainable businesses that can maintain a long lasting growth from inception to (hopefully) world domination. On May 2 the City Club of Portland invites interested members of the public to the Sentinel hotel for a Friday Forum on fashion to try and brainstorm how to strengthen the cracks in our foundation.

Sentinel

The goal of the community dialogue event is to pursue solutions to the barriers that exist in the creation of fashion houses here (beyond athletic wear and Pendleton, of course). The schedule will focus on three aspects for creating a viable fashion industry that offers high paying jobs for designers in Portland, including: Opportunities, Barriers, and Solutions. The forum was developed in consultation with Tito Chowdhury and Lynn Frank, owner and creative advisor of FashioNXT one of our most extravagant fashion shows. Their long-term commitment to elevate the fashion industry in Portland helped land our cities scene recognition in TIME Magazine and the Wall Street Journal.

A panel of important voices in the fashion, investment, and economic development community—along with your voice—will discuss how Portland can face our problems and look for solutions that benefit all.

Panelists will include:

  • Project Runway star Becky Ross and winner Seth Aaron will share their stories and challenges about making it in fashion.
  • Sharon Blair will draw on her deep experience in the fashion industry infrastructure here as President of Portland Sewing.
  • Seth Friedermann of Manufacture New York, Director of Design Relations, will discuss how New York City supports less known designers, and what Portland can learn from it. Manufacture NY has received praise from the New York Times for keeping fashion designers and construction in the city, not overseas.
  • Mort Bishop, President of Pendleton will talk about their long-term success as a global fashion house with 151 years as a family business.
  • David Howitt, President of Meriwether Group, a prominent investment acceleration firm will discuss venture opportunities in the Portland fashion industry. He will introduce his book Heed Your Call about modern day entrepreneurs. He was featured on Good Morning America discussing the book.
  • Sheila Hamilton, the five-time Emmy Awards winning Radio host of KINK Radio will moderate the panel.

Fashion Friday Forum
Friday, May 2, 12pm
Sentinel Hotel (formerly The Governor)
614 SW 11th, Portland
For Tickets: $15 GA for non-members
$30 for reserved seat and lunch 

Every other Tuesday: Home and garden ideas, fashion trends, stories, and images from Portland's rich design scenes. (See an example!)