By Nick Mattos, PQ Monthly
Fashionistas, take note: Portland Fashion Week is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a makeover that elevates the world-class event to new levels of social engagement, ecological awareness, and sartorial savvy.
Born in 2002 out of a local fashion industry incubator, Portland Fashion Week is the third longest-running fashion week in the nation behind New York and Los Angeles. Recently named the #1 Major City Fashion Week to attend, PFW brings together a high-fashion production that uniquely encapsulates Portland’s appreciation for the creative, the sustainable, the socially just, and the sartorially bold. The event, which runs Sept. 12-21, showcases numerous notable designers with world-class runway shows and innovative parties at locations throughout the city, centering on a three-day kickoff affair of runway shows in the Oregon Convention Center.
“My vision for Portland Fashion Week is to shine a light on the heartbeat of Northwest designers on an international stage,” says Jessica Kane, executive director of the Portland Fashion Council, which presents the event. “Portland Fashion Week is a platform built to encourage commerce, tourism, and the celebration of our thriving and vibrant design and manufacturing communities.”
Kane, who took over as executive director this year, comes at the event with a proven track record of elevating and challenging the fashion establishment. Her blog “Life & Style of Jessica,” celebrating body acceptance and cutting-edge sartorial sensibilities, reaches over 200,000 readers monthly; she also founded the award-winning SKORCH Magazine and the viral sensation known as the Full Body Photo Project. Now, at the helm of Portland Fashion Week, Kane intends to craft an event as bold, inclusive, and innovative as she is.
This year’s take on Fashion Week centers upon an ethos of community engagement. Five community charities will be highlighted throughout the course of the event, receiving a portion of the week’s proceeds along with public donations to their cause. To encourage engagement, PFW includes satellite events through the city, allowing a diverse display of the numerous facets of Portland’s clothing culture. Furthermore, unlike most fashion weeks, retailers as well as designers have been invited to apply to participate; as a result, some of the city’s finest boutiques will show alongside international-caliber designers on the runway.
While Portland Fashion Week has received high praise in the past for their environmental consciousness, this year’s event will incorporate even more sustainable aspects to their production. Measures taken by Kane’s team include a brand-new sustainable bamboo runway, offsetting their carbon footprint with the world’s only fashion week carbon mitigation replanting project, low-consumptive LED lighting, an on-site recycling program, and a commitment to serving local and seasonal foods in their gourmet catering.
From their innovative sensibility for participation to their commitment to holding the fashion industry to a high ethical standard, Portland Fashion Week has garnered an international reputation.
“In the world of fashion weeks, Portland plays a very important role in the showcasing of emerging designers and sustainable manufacturing,” Kane says. “Our environmentally-conscious event is unlike the major fashion weeks where only industry people are invited. Our fashion week is an experience that can be enjoyed by both fashion industry [professionals] and connoisseurs.”
Portland Fashion Week begins Sept. 12-14 at the Oregon Convention Center and continues Sept. 15-21 in a variety of locations throughout Portland. For a comprehensive listing of locations, events, prices, and information relating to the event, visit PortlandFashionWeek.net.