Vanishing Higher-Ed Hasn’t Put a Damper on These Portland Fashion Schools

 

In 2018, the Art Institute of Portland—the only college in the city offering bachelor’s degrees in apparel design and fashion marketing—closed its doors, shifting the balance of local design education options. The school, well known for its fashion alums (including no fewer than three Project Runway contestants) had been through a tumultuous few years, with the nationwide chain of colleges forced to grant $103 million in loan forgiveness on top of a $95 million multistate lawsuit settlement to students for consumer fraud. Since then, Portland has also seen the closures of the 112-year-old Oregon College of Art & Craft, which offered a smattering of experimental design courses, as well as other non-fashion Portland-area mainstays Marylhurst and Concordia.

But the great higher-ed vanishing hasn’t put a damper on advances in the local fashion scene. Nike, Adidas, and Columbia all continue to operate design studios here that employ hordes of fashion folk. There’s three-year-old Sneaker Week, an annual footwear event that brings in industry kin from all over the country. And, prepandemic, of course, local fashion shows were continuously popping up with new names and design collectives, like “The Ones” on E Burnside, which lets newbie designers share space alongside veterans of the fashion world.

A look from PFI student Chuck Ryan’s final collection.

The question, in the absence of higher ed, is where are all of these people learning their craft?

Across the river in the Hollywood District, Portland Fashion Institute caters to that seeking-a-toehold-in-the-industry demographic, but also embraces Portland’s indie days of yore with a program that runs students through not only the ins and outs of things like sewing knits and Optitex computer patternmaking, but also business classes on how to run your growing design empire. PFI founder Sharon Blair was a full-time instructor at the Art Institute of Portland before leaving to found her own school in 2010. That move, she says, was about taking her years of education experience plus the perspective from running her own small clothing line, SKB, to students for a fraction of the cost. Despite having several of the same instructors helming classes, the accredited school is vastly more affordable than the Art Institute, where the final tuition hit $485 per credit hour vs. Blair’s zero-debt vision. At PFI things clock in around $30 an hour for a sewing class and just $55 per patternmaking class, even with access to the expensive computer programs.

The commonality among all the schools? Each one gets students trained for a future career with classes that are faster and cheaper than traditional colleges, all with access to industry professionals that value time on the floor over textbooks.

9 steps to perfect pant fit

Creating pants that fit seems to be the goal of every clothing sewer.  That’s our goal for you two.  There are nine simple steps to get there.  You can start with one of the five PFI patterns that best flatter you (we have dress pants and jeans for men too!).  Then visit our blog page on “Four Fast Flat Fell Seams” to choose the one you like for a professional look.  Best of all, take Britta’s Pants, Jeans and Overalls class to learn the skills that will get you to your goal every time.

#happysewing!

7 easy steps to a Mme Grès drape

Turn off FB news feed & Twitter. Shun FB hate groups & cults. Believe only in trusted, verified sources — such as Mme. Bridget. As one of the last members of the Mme. Grès atelier, she taught me how to create Grès pleats. Here are 7 easy steps to make them.

  1. Cover the right side of the mannequin’s bodice with paper.
  • Line up two layers of silk organza over the pattern for one bust. Pin to hold.
  • Thread trace the pattern to the silk. Choose an embroidery needle.  Use one strand of contrasting thread.
  • Line up the lines of the dart. Join with ¼” running stitches. Choose an embroidery needle.  Use one strand of matching thread.  Start at the dart point.
  • Trim the dart down to ¾”. Press down.
  • Place the organza on the form. Match the CF and breast point.  Pin in several places to hold in place.

  1. Fold a 24” piece of ½”-wide rayon or silk fabric in half lengthwise.Press.
  • Start 2” beyond the CF point. Place the fold of the ribbon along the upper thread traced line.  Pin every 2”.  Continue until 2” beyond the SS.
  • Repeat for the bottom thread traced line. Make sure the binding pieces cross exactly at the CF point.
  • Join the binding to the organza with ¼” running stitches at the top and bottom of the long edge of each binding. Use one strand of matching thread.

  1. Press a 24”x24” square of silk jersey.
  • Mark the center of the crossgrain with pins.
  • Start 1 cm from one side at the center. Place a pin exactly at every 3 cm.
  • Start with the 2nd Bring each pin up to make a pleat.  Expose 2 mm of the previous pleat.  Remove previous pins as you fold.  Place a pin on the edge of each pleat.
  • Pick stitch the pleats in place along the centerline. Catch just a thread of the pleat fold as you stitch.  Make the underside as clean as the outside.

The first three steps should take you about 2 hours.

  1. Place the centerline on a straight line from the CF to the breast point.
  • Pin each pleat onto this line.
  • Start with the top half beyond the centerline. Fold under 3/8” of the top edge.  Gently stretch as you place it to hide the top edge of the binding fold.  Pin every 2”.
  • Place each pleat for the top. Make sure to stay on grain and leave only 2 mm of the previous pleat showing.  Keep the pleats smooth.  Stretch as you place.  Crowd the pleat as they approach the SS.
  • You should have only 3/8” fabric overlapping the centerline from bust point to SS.

 

This step should take you about 4 hours.

 

  1. Repeat for the bottom half of the fabric.
  • Fold under the remaining 3/8” of the bottom edge of the fabric to cover the bottom edge of the binding fold.

 

This step should take you about 4 hours.

  1. Chose a 1” fine curved needle.Use one strand of matching thread.  Start with the top half.  Backstitch two layers of pleats at a time.  Work from SS to CF. Be sure not to stitch through the paper.

 

This step should take you about 4 hours.

  1. Repeat for the bottom half of the fabric.

 

This step should take you about 4 hours.

 

Congratulations!  After 18 hours, you have completely one breast section of a Mme. Gres dress.  Now proceed to the other breast.  Then drape the rest of the garment.

The New Norm in Fashion

By Eden Dawn
@edendawn @PortlandMonthlyMagazine

Friday, August 7, 7pm, free
Virtual event: https://bit.ly/2EMCnZW


What Will the New Normal in Local Fashion Be?
Producer Abibat Durosimi releases a series of interviews with local creatives diving into the subject.

Design Week is in full swing right now—digitally, of course. When the pandemic ruined the annual city-wide showcase of all manifestations of beautiful things, the org pushed to August as we all waited to see what unfolded. (As you already know, what unfolded was many more months of eventless quarantine life.) So this year the celebration is an online one, currently running everything from collaborative online zine workshops to the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism hosting a panel on ethical design in immersive media. And on Friday night, in lieu of the big fancy fashion show that was set to happen in April, producer Abibat Durosimi launches a mini-documentary called The New Norm in Fashion.

The 35-minute long video features socially distanced interviews that Durosimi conducted in July with seven local creatives about the state of fashion. The film is meant to be an extension of the events and panels that she’s put on through Bloom Beauty Collective for the last few years in hopes to create more space and visibility for Black creatives in fashion and related worlds. Now Durosimi aims to add production and talent agency under that umbrella as she pivots from the events world to a new future.

“I feel like I have a better opportunity to conquer the mission. We have the open space for people of color to get acknowledged for who they are and what they do, and people are opening their doors,” she says. “Everything we’ve done for years has prepared me for this moment, how to learn to pivot when I need to…. I love that I got to do this mini-documentary. I love hearing people’s stories and learning from them.”

Watch folks like expert tailor Tony Iyke, athletic and outdoor apparel designer Jocelyn Rice, and founder of Portland Fashion Institute Sharon Blair (and, full disclosure, me) talk about how things are shifting in regard to sustainability, diversity, and even attitudes around fashion.

# # #

POC Design Scholarship Contest announced

Five things to know for Friday, including why, exactly, Black is Beautiful

By  – Managing Editor, Portland Business Journal

Looking great

The Portland Fashion Institute and Bloom Beauty Collective have announced a design scholarship contest that’s open to area high school juniors and seniors who are persons of color.

The winner will get a year of PFI fashion design classes, valued at nearly $20,000, as well as the chance to intern at a local apparel company.

“This is a challenging time for the apparel industry,” said PFI owner and director Sharon Blair in a statement. “But crisis creates opportunity. Right now the world needs forward thinking in fashion design more than ever.”

Have a beautiful, fashionable weekend, Portland.

# # #

Fashion Career Help Offered

Sharon Blair, of Portland Fashion Institute, and Bloom Beauty Collective, a Black-Indigenous-People of Color production and talent agency, have announced a fashion design scholarship for teen students of color, valued at nearly $20,000. Candidates have until Tuesday, September 1 at 5 p.m. to submit an application.

The contest is open to high school juniors and seniors in the Portland and Vancouver area who are persons of color. One winner will be chosen. That winner gets one year of fashion design classes valued at nearly $20,000 at the Portland Fashion Institute, located in northeast Portland.

The winner also gets a chance to intern at a local apparel company. The goal: To build skills so the winner can launch a business or create a portfolio for entry into a top fashion design college of their choice.

The winner will be announced at a Bloom Beauty Collective 2020 event. Classes start in September.

With 25 manufacturers and nearly 250 related companies, Portland is a center for the apparel industry.

“This is a challenging time for the apparel industry,” says Portland Fashion Institute owner and director Sharon Blair. “But crisis creates opportunity. Right now the world needs forward thinking in fashion design more than ever.

“We’re looking for candidates who can lead the way and tell us where they think the world of fashion is going. We believe we can find that among the many talented people in an underserved sector of our region,” says Abibat Durosimi, founder of Bloom Beauty Collective.

Candidates submit their ideas and details for a clothing line through a three-minute video to info@pfi.edu. Entry forms are available at www.pfi.edu/scholarship.

PFI grad competes for $10K

Be sure to stop by the Pacific Northwest College of Art this next two weeks to see Chuck Ryan’s @chuckslab display. You saw this PFI scholarship winner show his graduate collection at September’s Fade to Light Show. Now you can see it in the Scholastic Gold Key Exhibit. Chuck’s creations are competing for the Scholastic Art Awards and $10,000! In our view, he is a winner already.  His is the only fashion exhibit among the artworks.

A Lake Oswego high school senior, Chuck has been accepted to Parsons in New York and Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia.  Both are offering him full scholarships.  He’s thinking about holding out for Central St. Martins in London.

We’ll keep you posted on his decision and his winning ways.

photos @tomboehme