Fast on the heels of END, yet another line of shoes is launching in Portland, helmed by yet another high ranking alumnus of a local looming sneaker monolith: former president of Adidas America and Adidas Japan, Rob Lansgstaff's new baby is RYZ (END's co-founder, Andrew Estey, was global director of footwear design at Nike). Its concept is one that attempts to harness the power of popular vote to determine its product designs. The company has developed a template (a basic canvas high top) that anyone can design embellishing graphics for, and then submit it to the RYZ community, where it will be voted on—the winning design will then go into production, and the winning designer will see a $1-per-pair-sold profit share. Plus of course all the fame and glory relative to the winner of an American Idol contest, except not on TV, and with sneakers, of course. But you get the idea.

Tonight is the launch of the line, and five local designers are finalists to become the very first winning designer. One of them is Jason Ehlers, who has demonstrated some (perhaps) less wearable shoe creativity in the recent past, and less recently made headlines as "Caveman," a distinction for which he paid a rather heavy price. Sight unseen, my vote's probably going to go for his design, but I'll be there tonight to check out the other contenders. Stop by the gallery event and vote for your own favorite tonight from 6:30 pm on (the winner will be announced at 9 pm) at souk (322 NW 6th, Ste 200). Hang out and sample goodies from Mt Hood Beverage and Simpatica, but then move along, friends. The space has a limited capacity, and the more votes that can get in, the more democratic the results will be.


PS: Do you want fashion to be democratically elected?