FASHIONXT IS technically only in its second year, but its roots are deep. As recently as 2011, Executive Producer Prasenjit Tito Chowdhury was helming Portland Fashion Week (PFW), since then reclaimed by one of its original founders, along with new management. Nonetheless, FashioNXT wouldn't exist without the work Chowdhury put into PFW, building it up from a local showcase with an emphasis on eco-conscious design to the international event it's increasingly becoming.
Unlike most Portland fashion shows, FashioNXT isn't particularly focused on native talent. It's there, of course, most obviously in its reinstituted Emerging Designers showcase (for which I am a judge), as well as the first-ever spring collection debuting from Pendleton's the Portland Collection, and a number of Portland designers who've take a turn on reality show Project Runway (Becky Ross, Michelle Lesniak, and Seth Aaron are all showing this year).
One of the most interesting aspects of FashioNXT's evolution is that it's become heavier than ever on representation of Runway competitors. Based on networking among the show's veterans (among whom Portland is famously well represented), ours has become a city of choice for designers including Michael Costello, Fabio Costa, Gordana Goga, and Joshua Christensen. As bizarre a distinction as it may be, Runway designers have typically maintained relatively high quality—Costello's gold lamé-doused collection at FashioNXT 2012 was a terrific finale to the entire event—so it's hard to complain.
In addition, Chowdhury has expanded the reach of his event across the globe, more than in any year previous. The debut night features a group of designers from the Philippines, to be presented by the ambassador of the Philippines to the US—an interesting, if somewhat unexpected development. The rest of the roster touches on origins in New York, Paris, Hong Kong, Japan, South Dakota, and Los Angeles.
The aspect of FashioNXT, however, that most distinguishes it from PFW, is its determination to incorporate technology, arguing that as technology becomes more integrated into our daily lives, its affinity with the style world will become more pronounced—a reality that seems foreshadowed by the degree to which I take pleasure in my locally designed iPhone case (it has kitties on it). Thursday evening, prior to the runway, there will be a panel discussion hosted in conjunction with the Search Engine Marketing Professionals of Portland on "What's Next in Fashion e-Commerce," for instance, and Lesniak's collection, presented by Intel, will feature Brilliant Service's computerized eyewear. If last year is any indication, though, you can expect a professionally produced and largely straightforward runway affair, with some technology on the side, if you want it.
FashioNXT, Vigor Industrial Shipyard, 5555 N Channel, Bldg. 10, Wed Oct 9-Sat Oct 12, runway 8 pm nightly, $20-150, fashionxt.net for full schedule and info.