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Portland Fashion Institute is a nationally accredited private nonprofit career institute of higher learning and Portland’s only accredited fashion design college.

Clark County teen wins PFI scholarship contest with ‘Transformational Clothing’ concept

June 3, 2024

Clark County teen, Aidan Clause, wins $20,000 Portland Fashion Institute scholarship contest with ‘Transformational Clothing’ concept

Oregon’s only nationally accredited fashion institute reaches new milestone, welcomes its 8,000thstudent

Portland, Ore.—Portland Fashion Institute (PFI) announced the winner of its 2024 fashion scholarship contest today. Aidan Clause, a senior at River HomeLink in the Battle Ground School District, won the $20,000 scholarship for his design concepts and focus on transformational clothing. He is also enrolled part-time in the fashion design program at Cascadia Tech Academy, a trade school in the Evergreen School District, which he credits for the design skills he’s learned.

Aidan showcased three designs in his submission video, including denim pants with custom hook hardware and a wide, rectangular top that can fall into a maxi skirt. Those designs will be on display at PFI’s annual graduate fashion show, July 21. Aidan’s winning video submission can be viewed online.

“Fashion is a platform for designers to speak through their clothing and art,” said Aidan. “Change is necessary for growth, and I want to create transformational clothing that uses bold colors, cutting silhouettes and organic shapes. I’m so grateful to PFI for this scholarship, which will give me the opportunity to continue learning and pursuing a career in fashion design.”

Aidan says he’s inspired by designers like Rick Owens, Rei Kawakubo and Issey Miyake.

“I’m so thrilled to welcome Aidan to PFI’s apparel design program this coming fall,” said Sharon Blair, director of PFI. “We received a number of excellent submissions this year, but Aidan’s passion, creativity and fashion forward approach to design really stood out to our panel of judges. Our scholarship program gives young people an opportunity to continue their fashion design journey and really sets them up for success. With our region’s large number of apparel companies, PFI students have a clear path into this vibrant industry.”

PFI’s annual scholarship contest is open to full-time high school juniors and seniors across the United States who have a GPA of 2.5 or more.

Each student creates an original apparel idea that they explain through a video essay detailing their design process and the results. Judges include directors and managers for Adidas, Columbia Sportswear, Nike and other local apparel companies.

Previous winning scholarship submissions include:

  • Dynamic bicycle gear that’s ready for work
  • Floating dresses of recycled silk and chiffon
  • Zero-waste comfy cozy knit garments as a “uniform for living”
  • Practical unisex separates as art

The goal of the scholarship program is to prepare students with the skills and knowledge to start their own fashion line while also gaining real-world experience for a career in the fashion industry. The winner also has the opportunity to intern with a Portland-area apparel designer.

As a 501(c)3 non-profit, PFI created a foundation for those wishing to donate to PFI’s fashion scholarship fund. The foundation is named for Brian Foster, a long-time friend and design colleague who passed away in 2021. Foster’s mother, Anne, led the apparel design program at Portland Community College in the 1980s.

More than 8,000 people have studied at PFI since it opened, a milestone reached in Spring 2024. 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 join one of the area’s many apparel companies or to work in New York, Los Angeles, London or Paris.

About Portland Fashion Institute

PFI was founded in 2002 as Portland Sewing with a beginning sewing class for just four students. Now, PFI is Oregon’s only nationally accredited private nonprofit fashion institute of higher learning. It offers beginning, intermediate and advanced fashion classes, as well as three, degree programs in apparel. All of PFI’s teachers work in apparel and are well-versed in current techniques. PFI’s slogan is “We are apparel people teaching apparel people.” PFI keeps costs affordable and believes in #studentswithoutdebt. PFI is a 501(c)3 nationally accredited private nonprofit career institute of higher learning. Donations are 100% tax deductible.

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