Portland Walking Tours

Two Extraordinary Weeks of Style: Portland Fashion Week & FashioNXT

September 30th, 2015

Gorgeous clothes, famous designers, beautiful models, runways, VIP lounges, after parties . . . where are we, New York Fashion Week? Nope, this is Fashion Week in Portland where there are not one but two different main events celebrating the city in style: Portland Fashion Week (Oct 1-4) and FashioNXT (Oct 7-10).

Wait, fashion is so big in Portland that we have two different main events? Yup, it isn’t just plaid, hiking boots, and Gore-Tex anymore. Sure, the lumberjack look will always be a part of Pacific Northwest attire, and you can see local activewear brands like Nike as a prevalent part of street style. But there is an entire community of independent designers creating and selling their own fashions in a way that is unlike any other city. Proof that the fashion industry is big in Portland: there are more Project Runway winners from the Portland area than any other city in the television program’s history. This does not surprise anyone who knows how creativity, innovation, and DIY pride are an integral part of Portland’s heartbeat. As Michelle Lesniak, winner of Season 11 stated, “Portland has strongly established itself as the most fertile hotbed of emerging talents in the fashion industry.” In other words, we have become a hub. Yeah Portland!

So of course we need two big fashion events to showcase all the buzz and excitement that the fashion industry represents here. And we know you want to be a part of it all.


The first event, Portland Fashion Week, is the 3rd longest running fashion week in the U.S. at 11 years old.  “Keep Portland Pretty” is their slogan, and they don’t just talk the talk of eco-chic, they walk the walk — on the runway, of course. They have earned the title of the world’s only Carbon Negative Fashion Week and the World’s Greenest Fashion Week. They were also the first to feature 100% sustainable fashions and plus sized models. Their mission is to “enhance the region’s apparel design and retail economy by marketing Portland as the preferred platform from which to launch a sustainable apparel or accessory collection.”

We love how they’ve planted nearly 8,000 native trees and this year will be using only eco-friendly cosmetics and hair styling products. We also love that they are committed to featuring local designers, food carts, and libations. Their four-night lineup at 333 NW Industrial Street in the shadow of Montgomery Park will feature sustainable fashion, prêt–à–porter (ready to wear), swimwear, urban influences, bridal, accessories, and hair & makeup. We can’t wait. There is even going to be a special Voodoo donut in honor of Portland Fashion Week® for all of October. It doesn’t get more Portland than that.


FashioNXT, the second big event of Fashion Week, is in its third year and focuses on “what’s next in fashion” — anything fashion forward, innovative, and cutting edge. It is being held under a tent in the open air of Station Place in the Pearl District, evoking the experience of the classic New York Fashion Week tent shows at Bryant Park. This is not just “what’s next” but “who’s who” in local, national, and international fashion. Project Runway aficionados take note: winners and all-stars including locals Michelle Lesniak and Seth Aaron as well as Viktor Luna and Mondo Guerra will be showing their Spring 2016 collections along with designers from Shenzhen (China), Montreal, New York, South Dakota, Los Angeles, and Seattle. Can we just say wow?!

The four-night lineup also promises excitement when the big reveal of two contest winners occurs after the showcases of all the finalists. The Wearable Technology Fashion Competition “encourages designers to make technology wearable in a way that stimulates the public’s imagination.” This is where innovation will truly take center stage. And UpNXT, a contest that supports an emerging designer development program, provides the winner with a generous amount of funding, media exposure, boutique accounts, and much more. We love that FashioNXT supports and nurtures designers as part of their “what’s next” mission.

So mark these two Fashion Week events on your calendar, dig way back into your closet for those fancy duds you almost forgot you had, and spend a few evenings of glitz and glamour checking out cutting edge and eco-friendly fashion in Portland.

These events were featured on the Big Red Arrow Hot Sheet! Check it out to find more fun things going on in the Rose City.

Article by Natasha Kelly

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