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 pfisewing.com and altarpdx.com

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