Portland Fashion Week focuses sustainability, reuse

Portland gets a bad rap for rainy weather and socks with sandals. But Portland Fashion Week, a week long celebration of local fashion, showcases everything exquisite, sustainable and not always so practical that the city has to offer.

Portland Fashion Week will run from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2, with tent shows in Pioneer Courthouse Square featuring shows like Ready to Wear and Couture/Bridal, as well as a showcase featuring the work of Art Institute of Portland students. Tickets to the runway shows on the Tents stage are $55 and include entrance to after parties, free refreshments and more.

Since its founding in 2002, Portland Fashion Week has become a landmark for independent fashion, and a staple of the community. The event is the third longest running fashion week festival in the country, beat by only New York and Los Angeles.

A core focus of the event is sustainability. Many designers shared the same sentiment of recycle, reduce and reuse. Garments and fabrics have been repurposed so as not to go to waste. Old pair of jeans? Turn them into a wedding dress (no, really).

Sue Bonde, an instructor of fashion design at the Art Institute of Portland said she asked her students to not only focus on the creative aspects of fashion design, but to also consider the question: Fashion at what cost?

Bonde taught many of the students who will be featured in the Oct. 2 showcase. She said she highlighted the importance of reusing resources and repurposing fabrics, from old clothing to curtains.

Portland Fashion Week is a production of the Portland Fashion Council.

Joanna Powiertowska, Portland Fashion Week’s marketing manager, said the Portland Fashion Council was created in 2012 to represent designers and create opportunities. She said the Portland Fashion Council will be putting on additional style-based events throughout the month from local designers, as well as showcasing local boutiques and celebrating fashion.

The Portland Fashion Council’s events kicked off with Fashion on the Square at the beginning of September, which featured a local designer pop-up shop and live music. This was followed by a fashion mixer at Sweet Jaynes on Sept. 12, which featured a local DJ and contests for stylists.

Portland Fashion Week is an opportunity for students to find internships and make connections in the industry. Powiertowska said the event has actively been seeking interns in the areas of marketing, model and designer coordination, and general help backstage during the show.

For more information on the designers, events, ticket purchasing and internship opportunities go to www.portlandfashionweek.net. While the ticket prices may seem steep, the lessons, networking and inspiration can be invaluable.