What it’s like to work in the apparel industry: Settlemier speaks


Our holiday gift was an interview with Aaron Settlemier.  For 3 generations, his family has made quality varsity jackets right here in Portland.  He has also employed several seniors and graduates from PFI.  Want to see more of his interview?  Visit PFI-TV for “What it’s like to work in the apparel industry.”

Want to know more about how to get a job in the industry or start your own business?  Check out PFI’s #business #classes  They start in January.  New year.  New you!


Settlemier Jackets is a decades-old company born out of need.  Dorothy and Dale Nelson needed to escape the grinding hopelessness of the Great Depression.  Portland Oregon high schoolers needed varsity jackets.  From the basement of a family home to an 8,000 square foot factory, three generations of the family have stuck with tradition while keeping up with fashion trends.  Their focus on quality and detail have helped them grow and hire more than two dozen employees — including seniors and graduates from Portland Fashion Institute.
Aaron Settlemier tells what makes their jackets special and their company a success.  He answers “What it’s like to work in the apparel industry.”

Portland Fashion Institute looks to get a broader student base

By Demi Lawrence
Staff Reporter, Portland Business Journal

As demand for apparel and textile classes increases, Portland Fashion Institute plans to use new technology in the coming year to make classes available to more students, including those outside of Portland.

Sharon Blair founded what would become PFI in 2010 as a pattern and sewing class. It has grown into an accredited institution that sets up students for jobs at Nike, Adidas, Columbia Sportswear and other companies within Portland’s vast apparel landscape.

Even before the pandemic, the institution offered online classes for those who wanted an education without moving to the region. Over the last several years, nearly 40% of its students have tuned in online from outside the Portland area. However, they’ve only been able to take lecture-based classes because of the physical requirements of classes like draping and sewing.

“We tried putting our hands-on classes — the sewing, the pattern making — online, and that just didn’t work. It felt too YouTube,” Blair said. “You need to have your hand on that person’s hand, or point at it and show them exactly how to draw that line.”

Technology advancements that Blair said she can’t yet disclose has helped the institution better educate students in the more hands-on classes. Because of this advancement, Blair said PFI is officially
expanding its focus to a more national one and expanding the amount of classes it offers to more than 80.

Additionally, Blair said the institution recently moved its facilities into a space that is three times larger than its old one. Though they are still in the heart of Portland’s Hollywood district at 4301 N.E. Tillamook St., more space also allows Blair to bring on more teachers all of whom work in Portland’s apparel industry.

Portland Fashion Institute, currently located at 2111 N.E. 43rd Ave., will relocate to its new facility next April.

It’s time to create the next generation of business leaders. Yes, we’re talking about you!


But if you have a unquenchable passion for fashion, if you are ready to get into the apparel business, we’re here to help.

    Want your info in short bursts?  That’s our Saturday morning seminars.
Want something more in-depth information so you can get your ideas produced?  Are you looking to beef up your resumé?  Those are the business classes.
Either way, our goal is to make you a success and keep you from going broke while enjoying your creative life.
All classes are taught by professionals from international companies, local production companies and fabric manufacturers.  Wherever they work, they all know the industry rules.

Saturday Seminars

10 am-1 pm. Online

Sign up for one or sign up for the whole series and get juicy info from the best in the biz who will share the secrets of their success.
Here’s the what, when, who is teaching it and what’s in it for you.

> Start an Apparel Business
January 14
Karen Spencer, Searchfunder
Learn the basics & rules of setting up your apparel business.

> Future of Fashion

January 21
Jena Nesbitt, PCF

    Spot & forecast fashion trends months and even years ahead.

> PR Techniques
January 28
Kim Bedwell, Wild Hive Marketing

    Get noticed and get coverage from media & bloggers.

> Excel for Apparel
February 4
Dana Ditto, Nike

    Manage your costs, track your business, create spec sheets & more.

> Costing & Pricing
February 11
Dana Ditto, Nike

    Learn what you can afford & how much to charge.

> Sourcing
February 18
Dana Ditto, Nike

    Where will you get your fabric and labor?

> Apparel Business Legal Basics
February 25
Talya Tapley, attorney

    Protect what you are creating through LLC, IP & contracts.

> Working with Production
March 4
Corazon Reynolds, A&K Design

    Find out how to get your product made at the right time, right way, right price.

> E-Commerce Concepts (AI, digital, DTC)
March 11
Jena Nesbitt, PCF

    Get the basics of successfully selling online.

> Selling Wholesale
March 18
Jena Nesbitt , PCF

    Learn how to approach stores and enter a wholesale relationship.

> Social Media Marketing
March 25
Rebecca Russell W+K

    Get the secrets of how to use social media.

> Accounting Basics
April 1
Christina Gallagher, accountant

Get the basics of QuickBooks to set up a business & get ready for the IRS.

Business Classes

At the end of each, you will have serious results and understandings you can put to use.

Here’s the what, when, who is teaching it and what’s in it for you.


Fashion Analytics

with Robert LaCosse, UX expert
Mondays, Jan 9-Feb 13, 6-9 pm
Do they like you?  Really, really like you?  What did you do right?  What did you do wrong?  User experience or UX is in nearly every job description for good reason.  You need to know how to interpret analytics to better succeed in today’s online world.

A UX strategist with more than 15 years experience, Robert shares insights with large and small companies, agencies, freelance engagements, and universities.


with Jena Nesbitt, PCF
Tuesdays, Jan 10-March 28. 6-9 pm
Create your own e-commerce website without wasting time and money.  Have it work for you rather than you working for it.

Visual Merchandising

Fridays, Jan 13-Feb 17, 2-5 pm
Present your merchandise — whether online or bricks & mortar — by using tried and true marketing secrets to show your stuff at its best and increase sales.

Fashion Buying & Merchandising

Fridays, Feb 24-March 31, 2-5 pm
Learn how meet manufacturers and sales reps and make friends, as well as a profit.

Nesbitt has more than 10 years of experience as a product designer, creative director, brand strategist and business developer.

Strategic Marketing

with Karen Spencer, Searchfunder
Wednesdays, Feb 22-March 29, 6-9 pm
Who is going to buy your stuff?  Where?  At what price?  How are you going to promote & distribute?  Find the answers in this class.

As a trainer and counselor, Spencer consults and works hands-on with start-ups, non-profits and established businesses from Silicon Valley to Nike.

Materials Development

with Anna Fort, Exit21
Thursdays, Jan 12-Feb 16, 6-9 pm
You can’t patent a design but you can patent a textile or a component.  Learn how to create your own, how to use them and where.

Fort is a leader in fabric & fiber and has worked in materials for Columbia Sportswear, Merrell and Nike.

Product Development

with Daniel Roeder, Nike
Thursdays, Feb 23-March 30, 6-9 pm
Live the life of a typical industry job with a seasoned product developer.

Roeder has worked in the industry for more than 20 years and currently leads product integrity operations at Nike.

Sustainable Design

with Trish Langman, internally acclaimed sustainable designer
Fridays, Jan 13-Feb 17, 10 am-1 pm 
Work with a leader in waste couture.  Find ways to reduce energy, water and chemicals and use circularity in your designs — all while staying in business.

Langman has over eighteen years experience designing for prestigious fashion companies worldwide.  She just completed a community-funded sustainability project for the city of Los Angeles.

We’re ready to give you the #business. Let’s get started on the new year with a new you.

Pantone’s 2023 Color of the Year revealed

Written by Faith Karimi, CNN

Pantone has spoken. The color that will shape the year ahead is — drum roll, please — Viva Magenta.

The global color authority reveals its Color of the Year every December, and its 2023 choice, announced Thursday, is a vibrant relative of the red family.

Described as “a nuanced crimson tone” that balances warm and cool, Viva Magenta is “an unconventional shade for an unconventional time,” Pantone said in a statement unveiling its pick.

“Brave and fearless, (Viva Magenta) is a pulsating color whose exuberance promotes optimism and joy,” the statement added. “Powerful and empowering, it is an animated red that encourages experimentation and self-expression without restraint; an electrifying, boundaryless shade.”

The company went on to describe the color as “audacious, witty and inclusive of all.”

The Pantone Color Institute’s choice is intended to reflect the latest trends across sectors including fashion, beauty, technology, design and home decor. It also serves as something of a mood ring, with shades chosen to capture the zeitgeist.

In years characterized by uncertainty, this has often meant colors that soothe, calm or uplift. Amid the ongoing pandemic, Viva Magenta represents reassurance, confidence and connection in a world trying to get back on its feet, according to Laurie Pressman, vice president of the Pantone Color Institute.

“We are living in quite the unconventional time. The only thing that has become conventional is the unconventionality of it,” she told CNN during a video call. “While there have been so many things that have played into our thinking, so many things that have influenced and impacted what’s taken place and the changes we’ve had to make, there’s no doubt that the overriding influence has been Covid.”

Inspired by nature

Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, said the hue was inspired by the natural red dye derived from small insects called cochineals.

“As virtual worlds become a more prominent part of our daily lives, we look to draw inspiration from nature and what is real,” Eiseman said in a press statement, adding: ” Rooted in the primordial, Viva Magenta reconnects us to original matter. Invoking the forces of nature, it galvanizes our spirit, helping us to build our inner strength.”

This year’s announcement is accompanied by a new Miami exhibition that opens to the public Saturday. Dubbed the “Magentaverse,” it explores the “dynamic between Artificial Intelligence and human creativity” through interactive rooms featuring visual, auditory and tactile experiences linked to Viva Magenta.

Color boost: How vivid hues in your home can lift your mood

Pantone is known for creating the Pantone Matching System, which is used to identify and match colors in industries such as printing, graphic design and fashion. It has named a color of the year annually for more than two decades.

The company is no stranger to unconventional picks: In 2016, it chose a gradient made from two shades, Rose Quartz and Serenity, to reflect a year defined by shifting discussions around gender. In 2020, it picked not one but two colors — Ultimate Gray and Illuminating (a vibrant yellow) — to capture both the resilience and optimism shown during the first year of the pandemic.
Last year Pantone picked a periwinkle hue called Very Peri, marking the first time the company manufactured a new shade for the title instead of delving into its archive.

New year. New you. New skills.

Let’s make 2023 the year your fashion dreams come true.

Allizah C says: “My experience at PFI prepared me and fulfilled my education needs in order to be successful in the fashion industry. Because of PFI I am able to successfully make my dreams of working in this industry a reality. My highlight was being able to bring my sketch designs to life in a physical garment.”

Nothing makes us happier than when we live up to our motto:
Changing people’s lives. Making fashion dreams come true.

Let’s make 2023 the year your fashion dreams come true, whatever they may be. We have nearly 50 classes coming up. Maybe one or two are the right ones for you. Click the class links below for details.

Sewing Classes

with Lynn, Mary Iris, Rianna and Suzi

Love it? Don’t throw it away. Learn to use a machine and fix it.

Beginning Sewing
Apparel Construction
Industrial Machine Sewing

Couture & Clothing Classes

with Britta and Elle
Make it by hand. Make it by machine. Make it wonderful.

Classic Shirts: the right details for women and men
Couture Techniques
Couture Dress
Corsets & Bustiers

Left: Kamyar in Favorite Son shirt by Erich. Right: Kayla in corset & petticoat by Kyra.

Specialty Classes

with Lisa Silveira
Recycle. Renew. Reuse. Learn something fun.

Embellished Knits
Splendid Mending
Machine Knitting

Patternmaking Classes

with Anne, Britta, Josh and Adri

Knits & Stretch
Grading & Marking
Optitex 2D patternmaking
Browzwear 3D patternmaking
Advanced Pattern

Left: Marisol in AMC Clothing by Ana.

Design Classes

with Kel, Jena, Nancy and Rianna
Express your ideas.  Show the world.  And make your own fabric prints.
Fashion Illustration
Adobe Illustrator
Flats & Techs
Graphic Design
Computer Print Design

Right:  Sarah Donofrio designs.


You can bring life to your ideas & tell your story.

Share your ideas the way it’s done in the industry: visually. From fashion illustration to a winning portfolio, show your designs so the world can see them.
Image: Phil Padilla, Digital Illustration

Fashion Illustration
Mondays, 10 am-1 pm
Sept 12-Nov 28
All the way from London, England, Kel Jackson magically will turn you into a fashion designer. Start with a pencil and piece of paper. Decide upon the look of a garment and make it move.
Need a kit with all the right tools? Click here
Image: PFI senior Kyle Woods

Adobe Illustrator for Fashion
Wednesdays,2-5 pm
Sept 14-Nov 30
Stop trying to learn it though YouTube and get the short cuts and inside tricks from Rianna Aguirre, designer for Thread Theory and many others.
Still nervous? Try this starter class:

Adobe Prep
Weds & Thurs, 2-5 pm
Sept 7 & 8
Image: Jevon Ruis

Flats & Technical Packages
Mondays, 6-9 pm
Sept 12-Nov 28
Expand your Adobe know-how into the very skills that will get you a job with Nancy Simon who creates specs and techs for a living.
Don’t forget PFI students get the Adobe student discount.
Image: PFI senior Meghan Lee

Color Theory
Mondays, 6-9 pm
Oct 24-Nov 28
Let Kimmy Schenter, head of color innovation for Under Armour, help you choose color that intrigues, excites and motivates.
Color kit included in class.

Graphic Design
Tuesdays, 6-9 pm
Sept 13-Oct 18
As the product strategy director for PineCrest, Jena Nesbitt knows how to turn simple lines and shapes into a creative pattern that tells a story.

Computer Print Design
Tuesdays, 6-9 pm
Oct 25-Nov 29
Use what you learned in Graphic Design to become a print designer — then print your own fabric by the end of this class.
During this class, you will print your own design on fabric that you can cut, sew then wear.
Image: PFI grad Jessy Burris, Candy Lagoon

Digital Illustration
Saturday, 10 am-4 pm
Oct 29
Design on the go with an iPad, stylus and guidance from Phil Padilla, senior men’s apparel color designer for Nike.
Download the program on your iPad or borrow one from PFI
Image: Phil Padilla

Thursdays, 6-9 pm
Sept 15-Dec 8
Put your story together and show why you are the best candidate for a job, a promotion and your future — with Nike’s Dana Eberlein.
Present your skills to a panel of managers from Nike.
Image: PFI grad Charlie Ryan, Chuck’s Lab

Next blogs:  Secrets of lingerie, textiles, machine knitting, innovative design.

Find your success in apparel business.

PFI Supply Store is moving! SALE!


PFI Supply is moving — just across the street into our new building. That means bargains for you while we pack up. PFI Supply is closed August 24 to September 6 while we set up our new shop and bring in new stock.  Stay tuned for our grand re-opening sale!

Meanwhile, if you are getting ready for Fall classes, we are the place to go if you don’t know what to buy or where to get the right stuff.  PFI Supply has the basics in a convenient kit ready for pickup at PFI Supply or first day of class.

Get 20% OFF all fabric & tools when you sign up for a class!


New classes for Fall 2022 are ready. Here’s how to choose the right one for you.

The road to your fashion future starts here. With 39 classes from sewing to design, you are going to need a guide. Let Kelli show you the way. Whether you just want to learn how to sew or want to change your life and start a fashion career, Kelli’s story may be a good guide to lead your way through the classes PFI offers this Fall.

Kelli McDonough, PFI graduating class of June 2022, was born in South Korea and was adopted to the US at the age of 10. She was a stay at home mom for some time where “I taught myself to knit and started patterning my own garments. I needed a lot more help to do it right, so I started researching my options. I chose PFI because of the range of topics taught and the classes were at a time that worked around my kids’ school schedules.” In her senior year, she created her own collection. She now has a new job.

Here’s her path from stay-at-home-mom to fashion designer.

Above: Kelli’s Urban Excursion Senior Collection @inkthethink Model @olivia.reii

Step 1. Design

“My design process, like for most designers, starts out with an idea. I will draw it as fast as I can. Then I will put it through [Adobe] Photoshop and Illustrator.”

Fashion Illustration Mon, Sept 12-Nov 28, 10am-1pm
Adobe Illustrator Weds,Sept 14-Nov 30, 2-5 pm
Flats & Techs Mon,Sept 12-Nov 28, 6-9 pm
Digital Illustration Sat, 29-Oct, 10am-4pm
Color Theory Mon, Oct 24-Nov 28, 6-9pm
Graphic Design Tues, Sept 13-Oct 18, 6-9 pm
Computer Print Design Tues, Oct 25-Nov 29, 6-9 pm
Innovative Design Weds,Sept 14-Nov 30, 6-9pm
Textiles Mon, Sept 12-Oct 17, 6-9pm
Machine Knitting Thurs, Sept 15-Dec 8, 6-9pm

Step 2. Pattern

“Next I pattern it out by hand and then Optitex and Browzwear so I can see how the pattern and print and design itself will behave.”

Browzwear  Sat, Oct 29-Dec 10, 10am-1pm
Optitex  Sat, Sept 17-Oct 22, 10am-1pm
Draping  Mon, Sept 12-Nov 28, 2-5pm OR 6-9 pm
Pattern Intro  Thurs, Sept 15-Dec 8, 10 am-1 pm OR 6-9pm
Pattern Manipulation  Tues, Sept 13-Oct 18, 10am-1pm OR 6-9pm
Pattern Design  Tues, Oct 25-Nov 29, 10am-1pm OR 6-9pm
Pattern Knits  Weds, Sept 14-Nov 30, 10am-1pm
Fit & Pattern Alteration  Sat, Sept 17-Oct 22, 2-5 pm

Step 3. Sew

“From there I will sew the first prototype where I serve as the fit model. I will try it on then fix and adjust the pattern until I get the final product I had envisioned at the start.”

Apparel Construction Weds, Sept 14-Nov 30, 10am-1pm OR 6-9 pm
Beginning Sewing  Mon, Sept 12-Nov 28, 6-9 pm OR Tues, Sept 13-Nov 29, 6-9 pm  OR Sat, Sept 17-Dec 10, 10am-1pm
Knits  Fri, Sept 16-Oct 21, 10am-1pm OR 2-5pm
Activewear  Fri, Oct 28-Dec 9, 10am-1pm OR 2-5pm
Industrial Machine Sewing  Mon, Sept 12-Oct 17, 6-9pm
Casual Jackets  Tues, Oct 25-Nov 29, 2-5pm OR 6-9pm
Pants & JeansTues, Sept 13-Oct 18, 2-5pm OR 6-9pm
LingerieFri, Sept 16-Dec 9, 2-5pm OR 6-9pm
Leatherworking  Sat, 5-Nov, 1-5 pm
SergerySat, Oct 29-Nov 19, 2-5 pm
ZippersSat, Dec 3, 2-5 pm

4. Sell. 

“What I love most about what I do is all the gadgets and tools in this industry that help you to succeed.”

E-commerce Marketing  Mon, Sept 12-Nov 28, 6-9 pm
History of Fashion  Tues, Sept 13-Oct 18, 6-9 pm
Inside the Fashion IndustryWeds, Sept 14-Oct 19, 6-9 pm
Overseas Production  Weds, Sept 14-Oct 19, 6-9pm
Materials Development  Weds,Oct 26-Nov 30, 6-9pm
Product Development  Thurs, Oct 27-Dec 8, 6-9pm
Supply Chain ManagementThurs, Sept 15-Oct 20, 2-5pm
Fashion Analytics  Thurs, Oct 27-Dec 8, 6-9pm
Portfolio  Thurs, Sept 15-Dec 8, 6-9pm
Apparel Business Plan  Fri, Sept 16-Oct 21, 2-5pm
5. Live
Kelli now works in product development for Danamor. You can see Kelli’s creations on Instagram @inkthethink
Need more ideas on the best path for your life? Read more in the next newsletter or visit our website   Have questions? Send a note to Ready to register? click the links above.

Workwear meets sportswear concept wins Portland teen a Fashion Scholarship

Tuesday, June 22, 2021



Workwear meets sportswear concept wins Portland teen a Fashion Scholarship

The pandemic is nearly over. It’s time for a new, more practical way to think about clothes. What need do they fill? What we should buy and why?

It’s that thoughtful point of view that won Gabriel Madlangbayan of Jefferson High School a fashion design scholarship at Portland Fashion Institute, Portland’s only accredited fashion school.

It’s the tenth year for PFI’s scholarship contest. This year the school focused on persons of color.

Madlangbayan came up with a concept of combining workwear with sportswear. He designed and created a warm but functioning outerwear jacket — quite a feat for a beginner. He then demonstrated its use by skateboarding in the snow and letting his jacket cushion the blow when he fell.

His focus, however, is on more than just fashion.

“One of my favorite things about skateboarding is the people,” he says. “I’ve noticed there is little to no discrimination among the community, whether that’s age, race or gender. Everyone seems to accept each other. Knowing this while being a person of color definitely gives me a lot more confidence.

“I’m looking forward now to learning professional skills at PFI,” he says, “and the business of fashion.”

Madlangbayan is 17. After his education at PFI, he would like to work for Nike or Adidas. But he has his sights on bigger things.

“I know [what I created] is not really a revolutionary idea or something that will change the game in the fashion world, but I just wanted to do something that was important to me and my friends. I figured that should come first.”

PFI’s annual scholarship aims to give young designers a path into one of Portland’s many major apparel manufacturing companies. It is open to full-time students in Portland and Vancouver area high schools who have a GPA of 2.5 or more. Each contestant creates an original apparel design idea with sketches, interviews of influential people and an essay on fashion design.

Judges include leaders for Adidas, Columbia Sportswear and Nike.

More than 6,000 persons have studied at PFI since it opened in 2010. While most students come to PFI for a class or two, those interested in a career have gone on to start their own clothing lines, to work for one of the area’s many apparel companies or to gain entry into one of the top schools in New York, London or Paris.

Photo:  Workwear + sportswear is a design idea that achieves more than fashion and won Jefferson High School’s Gabriel Madlangbayan a scholarship to Portland Fashion Institute.  At PFI he plans to learn the skills to take his ideas into a career at one of Portland’s major apparel companies and beyond.  Here, his brother Curtis wears Madlangbayan’s award-winning idea.

Area fashion school and design house give creatives special access to Portland style

Portland has always had its own quirky style.  Classic comfort.  Unisex.  Tomboy.  Upcycling.  Interesting prints.  A mix of high and low.  Think of an oversized dress with running shoes.  Portland style has been copied nationwide.

The city’s independent design scene supported nearly 100 boutiques four years ago.  COVID-19 pandemic closed nearly half of them.

Enter Portland’s only fashion design school and one of its leading designers.

“We have a plan to promote Portland’s aesthetic and rebuild the independent design scene to get ready for a post-COVID world,” says Sharon Blair, Portland Fashion Institute’s director.

She has worked with AltarPDX designer Cassie Ridgway to turn some of AltarPDX’s most popular designs into sewing patterns.

“While we boost the area’s economy, we hope this effort encourages people to make their own and upcycle what they already have,” Blair says.

“If it inspires them to create and sell their own designs, that’s great too.”

AltarPDX is sold worldwide.  Most all of the garments are recycled from deadstock.  All are made in America.

“Altar is particularly known for making seasonless staples that aim for a timeless and sophisticated aesthetic,” Ridgway says.  “For this project, we chose garments that year-after-year can transition to new eras of our lives.”

“I can’t wait to see how everyone applies their own sensibilities to these projects.”  Each of the patterns is styled as a “classroom in a book”, with detailed illustrations and links to videos, “so even beginning stitchers can complete a garment they will love to wear.”

Part of the proceeds goes to another collaboration between PFI and AltarPDX.  The two are working on a grant to create an apparel production training program for at-risk, underserved youth in a Portland-area alternative public school. The program would train low-income teens so they can secure high-demand, well-paying jobs in the apparel industry.

PFI’s next group of patterns comes from designers Sarah Donofrio of One Imaginary Girl and Project Runway, plus Liza Rietz of The Ones whose garments show at art galleries as well as her own boutique.

Patterns are available at and