The ChinaBound delegation trip leaves a week from today, on March 25. The list of designers whose clothing will be presented on runways and considered for "retail opportunities and exchange programs" has been released: May Tee, RYZ, and O'Pearl are three of the eight total. No surprise there. May Tee, O'Pearl's Kerry Yu, and RYZ's Rob Langstaff are all spearheading the program and this year's trip. Also being taken along are looks from Clair Vintage Inspired, Christa Taylor, Dimitri, plus AI students Clair Wolfson and Jennifer Holcomb. Last year, for the initial exploratory trip across the Pacific, they took 12 designers' work—if the reduced number of designers represented is a permanent modification, I do hope they allow for more turnover in the slots available for export. The concept is new, and vague enough, that perhaps not many designers applied to accompany the delegation—and no offense to the designers who are participating this year—but if the primary focus is on Portland contributing unique design ideas and China contributing production quality and know-how, clothing that directly references popular styles from the mid-20th Century, an L.A.-obsessed company selling graphic t-shirts and bullet belts, and a designer of perfectly lovely but modest and not terribly fashion-forward womenswear would certainly not be the brands that come to my mind as representative of Portland's design invention. Kudos to the involvement of the Art Institute bringing up-and-coming student designers into the fold, but please let's try to breathe some fresher air into the rest of the lineup next year!


The rose gown representing Portland's half of the international partnership as modeled by ChinaBound's Jillian Rabe (photo by Minh Tran)