Level Four Fashions

Portland has some weird ideas about fashion, and I'm not just talking aesthetics. It isn't an insult, but the attitude here can be a little different. Maybe because it seems like a novel thing to do, and maybe because it's in line with the Portland penchant for turning every event into a potpourri of entertainment, but it's kind of funny how many local fashion shows have a ticket price. One could argue that you are essentially paying to look at advertising. But more importantly, I think it's an indication of both the level of enthusiasm and the respect that Portland gives to fashion as an art form rather than a machine of elitism and controlled marketing. Plus, it's frequently exploited for good causes and encourages the addition of other forms of entertainment to make it worth your hard-earned cash.

And on that note, the benefit show of the week: Strut, a benefit for Basic Rights Oregon, features some local designers you should know: Jonny Shultz, whose eye-catchingly hip designs have been spotted at local boutiques like Yes; the snappy, punky-but-clean designs of Vancouver's Diego; simple, strong women's clothing from WeMa; torridly romantic and sophisticated pieces by Magalí Corzo; quietly sexy, feminine clothing by Sofada; and flattering, whimsical, and sophisticated women's apparel from Ipseity. Plus, naturally, additional entertainment (Kaosmosis, Sophe Lux, DJ Stay in School, Barrett Paul), and emceeing by Poison Waters. Wed June 7, Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell, 7:30 pm, $12-15, or $75 VIP

On the retail front, Soho, a longtime source for hot women's jeans and other sassy women's apparel (1605 NE Broadway) is housing a fledgling menswear enterprise in its backroom, Level Four Fashions. Mastermind Vernon Warren says he'd like to see the young men of Portland take it up a notch without feeling like they have to wear tight pants, describing his inventory as "nice, manly, wearable." Look for urban styles from JCXUS (Bruce Willis is a fan), Kinetix, Bogosse (as worn by Usher), and denim from 1921, Genetic, and Sacred Blue.

And from Soho, you could hit a wiffle ball over to NE Broadway's other new addition, Hot Box Betty. With an original location in Bend, Betty's new Portland outpost has settled into the space formerly (and very briefly) occupied by the second location of Lit at 1623 NE 15th. In fact, you might do a double take and think for a minute that Eastside Lit is back, given that both stores are enthusiastic suppliers of Gsus. Check them out (boys too—they've got a menswear section that isn't actually 100 percent silk-screened!)

Tell me what you're wearing: marjorie@portlandmercury.com