With the success of hit, locally-filmed shows like Portlandia and Grimm, Portlanders are spending more time than ever in the spotlight. And thanks to a trove of design talent, residents are more than ready for their close-ups. For starters, half a dozen local designers have competed on Project Runway (with three of them nabbing the grand prize). This attention has translated into a surplus of places to suit up for day or night. Check out the central city’s top retail hubs for a mix of both name-brand designers and signature indie aesthetics.
Within easy walking distance of central downtown and accessible by botdowh the Portland Streetcar and MAX light rail, Portland’s burgeoning West End district is a true haute hot spot. Chic boutique Frances May headlines the trendy cluster with lines like Acne, Carven and Church & State.
Finish off the tour des boutiques with a trip to Canoe. The home and accessories store offers modern yet quirky items with long-lasting appeal. Roam the airy space to find anything from a wooden watch to a cast-iron owl ready to perch in your living room. Located at the corner of West Burnside Street and Southwest 13th Avenue, the Black Box building is a beehive of buzzed-about fashion.
Nearby, you’ll find the flagship store from Poler, local manufacturer of clothing and gear that’s designed for Northwest surfers and snowboarders but appreciated by casual hikers and couch potatoes, too. (Their cozy, wearable sleeping bag, the Napsack, stole the scene when Lena Dunham wore it on her HBO television series Girls.)
Opened in summer 2013, Union Way occupies an alley between the Ace Hotel and Powell’s Books with a European-style arcade filled with shops and restaurants. The offerings include high-end denim from Self Edge, made-in-Portland Danner Boots and more.
Portland is also home to big-name fashion houses. Nordstrom provides pure couture candy with legendary lines like Chanel and Dolce & Gabbana. Just blocks from the main store, fashion insiders snatch up apparel and accessories at up to 70% off original prices at Nordstrom Rack. Nearby, Pioneer Place spans four city blocks with more than 70 retailers, including Louis Vuitton, Kate Spade, Tiffany & Co., Apple and H&M.
Coveted brands can also be found at department store Mario’s and women’s shop Mercantile. For unmentionables worth talking about, visit underU4men, North America’s largest men’s underwear store. Need new kicks? The flagship Nike Portland caters to runners in a museum-like space.
Like a fashion flash mob, new “pop-up” shops crop up every holiday season, and a few become permanent. Such is the case with Boys’ Fort, home to unique gifts, custom-built furniture and other vintage-inspired modern men’s products, and Crafty Wonderland, which features artisanal works from more than 90 local vendors. Don’t miss Crafty’s “Super Colossal” sales at the Oregon Convention Center every May and December.