Nobody said life was fair. And just like women have to deal with inconveniences like birth control, glass ceilings, and a difficulty in peeing while standing up, men have to deal with the fact that, generally speaking, their clothes just aren't as fun. Shopping is great for the Portland woman, but the fellas have it a little tougher. Lucky for them, Denwave is listening, and this weekend they'll host a fashion show that's just for the guys.
Featuring the work of in-house designers Genevieve Dellinger (apparel) and Hazel Cox (accessories), with notable guest star Adam Arnold, the show is an official invitation for Portland men to make Denwave the destination it has become for women. In fact, Dellinger and Cox have already been scouring the retail world for their male customers, turning up alternatives to usual streetwear suspects from nearby (Arnold's shirts are best sellers) to abroad, with styles imported from Japan and Germany. Without screaming "fashion conscious," they've sourced pieces that take standards (Ts, hoodies, jeans) and given them something special, be it a twist in design, a slimmer fit, or a cheeky graphic ('80s lovers will appreciate the newly arrived T-shirts from Kilo Goods, in a bright color-blocked pattern pulled straight from the heart of that unmistakably loud decade).
Capturing the mood of the store, which Cox describes as "Nick Cave meets Kool Keith," the vibe combines sportiness with gothy organic. Sticking with masculine materials like silk rope, leather, snakeskin, metals, and even pine shingles, Cox's accessories include bandanas with leather buckles, strappy elaborations that hook to belts, pouches that can attach to pants and be used for things like loose tobacco (she calls them "mojo magic bags"), and necklaces.
For the apparel, Dellinger used lots of lightweight, gauzy fabrics—attractive, comfortable, and appropriate for a season that's "about hanging out and riding bikes." Neutrals get punched up with sunny yellow and grass green, pieced jersey T-shirts layer with tanks, and pants appear in both short and long styles (including a baggier version of the awesome, futuristic leggings that debuted at the Mercury's last fashion show), and at least one honest-to-god matching jogging suit.
Taking inspiration from the diverse clutch of male models recruited for the show, as well as the store's existing male clientele, which ranges from creative professionals to teenage boys shopping with their moms, Dellinger's aim is to cater to real men who need real clothes. Without hitting you over the head with lofty concepts, the pieces are riskier, more interesting, and more exciting than the typical options, but remain wearable and comfortable.
Adam Arnold, who is modeling in the show, will be wearing what will most likely be one of the more avant-garde pieces: a pair of super high-waisted pants that may or may not be responsible for a public display of "mammal toe" or "moose knuckle." His other contribution is more accessible: A small collection of nine exclusive Adam Arnold hats will be made available the day of the show: summer caps in cotton chintz; a yellow, heavyweight duchess silk; and a black patterned version with little white crosses. Priced at only $45, this is a great opportunity to get your hands on some limited, homegrown design without having to make a significant investment.
Another exclusive at the show will be a very limited run of Denwave T-shirts, printed on scoop-necked Korean Ts with a big block print that reads, "What's your sign?" in German. (Ladies, feel free to fight over these super-limited—probably only six or so—souvenirs, too; they're technically men's shirts, but who cares?) The show will take place outside the shop, so come hang out in the sun, and if you see something you like, orders can be placed after the show. (Denwave, 811 E Burnside, Sat July 14, 7 pm, free, with reception to follow)
Meanwhile, across town at the English Dept.'s new location (1124 SW Alder), all are invited to the grand opening, where you can sip on a drink, check out the digs, and see the latest arrivals in the bridal section, plus arrivals from Built by Wendy and co-owner Elizabeth Dye's own line before hitting Denwave. (Sat July 14, 5 pm, free)
One other retail note: Respected local designers John Blasioli (whose a broken spoke line is another great example of locally designed menswear) and Liza Rietz will be opening a store together later this summer, providing both off-the-rack and made-to-order access to their goods, in a studio/retail space located at 2305 NW Savier. Check back in this space, and on mod.portlandmercury.com, the Mercury's new style blog, for further developments.
Hey, handsome: firstname.lastname@example.org