Shows and tells Wednesday through Saturday October 5 to 8.
Tito Chowdhury has been the executive producer of Portlands official fashion week, called FashioNXT, since 2006. Which is long enough for him to have seen Portlands fashion world grow.
The fashion scene in Portland is expanding, but I measure it by seeing more knowledgeable and more aware and better equipped designers, Chowdhury told the Business Tribune.
He sees a few trends in the fashion business. More independent designers are cutting out the wholesalers and taking their business direct to the client. That is, they are using the Internet – in particular social media such as Instagram – to get pictures of their work out, and using websites to sell their wares on.
The big retailers are consolidating. They are becoming less innovative in bringing in new designers, of whom there were too many in the first place. There are too many collections, every market is churning too quickly.
And the retailers are designing in house and manufacturing their own brands, such as Macys IMC and Nordstroms Facconable. They make more profit and dont have to pay wholesalers.
He remembers when Macys used to give space to indie designers. They dont do it any more. They also are closing hundreds of stores.
To make it stand out, Portland fashion used to be tipped as extra sustainable. Cue the sack dresses. Now it is tagged as tech-forward, meaning Internet of Things devices are being made to look fashionable. Cue the statement necklaces that track your fertility.
We are unparalleled in the world, were the only one to bring in wearable technology as a part of the fashion industry. Hence Thursday nights wearables competition.
Chowdhury is quick to point out that Mayor Charlie Hales has anointed FashiNXT as Portlands official fashion week.
We do two things: we support local designers with UpNext, which takes four or five new designers, teaches them business skills and mentors them over one year." (Their show is on opening night, Wednesday Oct 5.)
And we reach out to fashion consumers with disposable income, to bring them a show with high production values.
Chowdhury claims most fashion weeks in second tier cities have low production values, and designers are paid to show up. AT FashioNXT however the designers pay a fee in the low four figures to attend, and in return receive turnkey service: music, models, hair, make up, publicity and the venue are all included.
Thursday is dubbed Industry Insiders Night and includes a panel led by Jenna Blaha, the Tech Editor of Marie Claire magazine, and a runway show of mostly UpNext winners.
Friday has more runways shows from designers outside of Portland, including
Katherine Tessier from Montreal and Walter Mendez who has dressed celebs such as Selena Gomez and Jennifer Lopez. Just check his Instagram, says Chowdhury.
Saturday night includes the debut of local designer Michelle Lesniaks latest collection, Alt: Alt, inspired by on her trip to Peru. Other designers showing include Melynda Valera of Los Angeles, Julie Danforth (Seattle), Romey Roe (New Orleans) and Layneau (Portland).
Chowdhury reels off the press his show has gotten over the years, including Time magazine and Vogue China. The designers know they are getting good service here. New York is not affordable to most independent designers. This is the
biggest indie designers show out there. Very few come with an entourage, maybe just a couple of assistants. He says they like Portland.
Its all about getting a good show, good photos, which are priceless for social media, because original content gets you engagement.
He says local designers can make it here, pointing to Wendy Ohlendorf, who has designed three dresses for local Wells Fargo executive Tracy Curtis. She found Wendy in our show, she came with Nancy (Haless wife) and is a coveted client. She (Curtis) has a stylist, she can afford it.
Ohlendorfs dresses sell for $2000-$3,000 at boutiques like Flair Walk in the Pearl. Walter Mendezs are in the $20,000 region.
For Chowdhury, it's all about riding Portland's good economy and its current popularity as a hip destination.
What we are doing at FashioNXT is creating a fashion industry ecosystem which supports fashion designers. I would love to see more of the people who are looking forward to the citys prosperity and growth in an exciting economy, and for them to follow us.
2016 FashioNXT: The Shows.
Oct 5-8, 6pm-midnight.
Peter Corvallis production warehouse, 2204 N Randolph Ave, Portland, OR 97227
Tickets $30 to $180