Sure, Portlanders love their flannels and rain boots, but make no mistake: The Rose City is a hotbed for global fashion. The city’s ever-evolving sartorial style can be traced to Portland Fashion Week, held each September. Created in 2002, this four-day event is now the nation’s third-longest running fashion week, behind only New York and Los Angeles. It’s also the first fashion show in the world to showcase 100 percent sustainable designs and emphasize eco-friendly production — a fitting accomplishment for America’s greenest city.
Fashion fans are also likely to recognize many of the designer’s faces — Portland has produced seven “Project Runway” winners and finalists (more than any other city), many of whom got their start at Portland’s Fashion Week.
Here’s a quick introduction to some of the local up-and-comers featured at recent Portland Fashion Weeks and where to find their pieces around town.
Claire Doody, Copper Union
Claire Doody studied costume design and fiber arts in Washington state, assisted Andrew Harmon in New York, and designed accessories for national retailers like Urban Outfitters, Torrid, Hot Topic and the Limited before joining Portland’s free-spirited fashion scene. Her Copper Union collection celebrates the “feminine warrior” with modern fashion for the often overlooked plus-size market.
Where to buy: Amelia
This chic boutique on trendy Northeast Alberta Street celebrates the nostalgic style of American artisans and designers by showcasing vintage looks with a modern twist. Amelia also produces its own small-scale clothing line in-house, offering on-site tailoring and workshop tours by appointment.
Wookie Fields, Jaefields
A native Portlander, Wookie Fields (yes, that’s his real name) designs each Jaefields garment with the rainy season in mind, eschewing trendy but rain-averse fabrics like leather for more multipurpose materials. Fields combines a fondness for practical outdoor apparel with his own progressive multicultural style to produce trendy, versatile garments infused with Pacific Northwest grit.
Where to buy: Stylefront
Stylefront, in the growing South Waterfront district, encourages its patrons to “inhale fashion and exhale style.” The shop offers a variety of sophisticated and trendy brands that will especially excite connoisseurs of luxury western wear.
Sunjin Lee, Sunjin Lee Bridal
Sunjin Lee studied architecture and urban design in Seoul, South Korea, before moving halfway around the world to Portland in 2010. Declared “best couture gown designer” by Oregon Bride magazine, Sunjin delighted spectators at last season’s Portland Fashion Week by sending a ballerina down the runway to arabesque in a bold black and white gown.
Where to buy: Sunjin Lee Design Studio
Sunjin’s intimate studio near downtown in Goose Hollow is adorned with architectural sketches and bursting with bridal wear. Be sure to call ahead, as the studio is open by appointment only.