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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.

Convertible jacket concept wins Portland teen a fashion scholarship

Monday, April 17, 2023

Portland, Ore.—Creating a convertible puffer jacket that is functional and stylish won 18-year-old Izak Schwartz of Grant High School a full-ride fashion design scholarship at Portland Fashion Institute (PFI), Portland’s only accredited fashion school.

Schwartz experimented with several designs before he came up with a winner – a jacket where you can zip off the sleeves as quickly as the weather changes. The Grant High senior designed his functional outerwear to change with the unpredictable Northwest weather. His focus, however, is on more than just fashion.

“I come from a family of artists,” said Schwartz. “Art has always been a part of my life.”

As he grew older he also became interested in fashion. He screen printed his own original artwork and his logo on the jacket that helped win him the scholarship.

“I believe art and fashion go hand in hand. If you look good, you feel good, and clothing can be an extension of someone’s personality and a way to express themselves. I’m looking forward now to learning professional skills at PFI.”

Schwartz has a larger vision. After his education at PFI, he would like to work for a streetwear or outerwear company, or start his own clothing line where “I can have the freedom to be creative and innovative designing garments.”

“I congratulate Izak and am so thrilled to welcome him to PFI next fall,” said Sharon Blair, director of PFI. “This is the 10th year for our scholarship contest, but it’s the first year as a non-profit higher education school. With our strong ties to all the small, midsize and large apparel companies located in this region, PFI’s scholarship gives young designers a path into this vibrant industry.”

PFI’s scholarship is open to full-time students in high schools across the United States who have a GPA of 2.5 or more.

As part of becoming 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 whose mother, Anne, led the apparel design program at Portland Community College in the 1980s. Brian Foster passed away in 2021. Having a non-profit and foundation allowed PFI for the first time to fully fund tuition for a talented teen from an underserved community.  Previous years offered a partial tuition.

Each contestant created an original apparel idea with a video essay on their design process and the results. Judges include directors and managers for Adidas, Columbia Sportswear and Nike.

More than 7,000 people 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 join one of the area’s many apparel companies or to work in New York, Los Angeles, London or Paris.


About Portland Fashion Institute

Portland Fashion Institute was founded in 2002 as Portland Sewing with a beginning sewing class for just four students. Now, PFI offers intermediate, advanced sewing classes as well as three certificate programs in apparel business.

PFI courses can help you become industry proficient in clothing design, patternmaking, construction, manufacturing and production. All of our teachers work in apparel and are well-versed in current techniques. We are apparel people teaching apparel people.