PORTLAND GARMENT FACTORY began as just that—a factory. Founded in 2008 by Britt Howard in order to provide production services to small apparel companies in the city, PGF has since blown up. Physically, its current Montavilla location is about 30 times bigger than the miniature space it first inhabited on SE Belmont. As for the need Howard saw, the response has been huge, and PGF has all the business it can handle, still serving small companies as well as working on projects for bigger clients like Ace Hotel and Nike.
Howard was eventually joined by partner Rosemary Robinson, and the two of them began co-designing the Portland Garment Factory HouseLine. Originally an effort to create versatile pieces that would mix well with some of their clients' designs, the HouseLine has blossomed into a wholly original aesthetic of its own. Exhibiting a general indifference to trends, their looks often feature a dedication to natural fibers and wholly unique shapes, cut loose and quirky with accents that can be draped multiple ways, and that flow into the wardrobes of modest and eccentric collectors alike. There's not much out there like it, and their singularity has won them dedicated fans and stockists from as far away as Tuscany and Kuwait.
Closer to home, Stand Up Comedy—itself a retail institution that inhabits intersections of fashion, commerce, art, and intellectualism—is one local resource for the designs (PGF also added direct-to-consumer sales on its HouseLine website recently), and they are hosting the launch of the spring collection this week.
Stand Up Comedy owner Diana Kim explains the appeal thusly: "Almost everything feels very expensive, when it's actually very practical—it's all pretty much wash and wear. Their fits are also really easy, without just being super oversized. Modernism has to be more than just neutral palettes and ill-cut squares of droopy fabric. A lot of young designers go that route, but only a model can wear a literal potato sack and make it look decent. HouseLine has intentionality behind it." Portland Garment Factory's HouseLine spring/summer '15 launch at Stand Up Comedy, 511 SW Broadway, Sat April 11, 3-7 pm
THIS WEEK'S STYLE EVENTS
• Bridge & Burn celebrates the release of their spring/summer collection—which promises "indigo-dyed woven shirts and dresses, lightweight wind-resistant outerwear, durable ripstop for guys, and luxurious cupro and linen for ladies." Bridge & Burn, 1122 SW Morrison, Thurs April 9, 6:30-9 pm
• Animal Traffic has always been a great example of how to do American style and quality right, but this week they're turning an even brighter spotlight on domestically made, sturdy goods from a trio of brands: Freenote, Duluth Pack, and Red Wing. Peruse the goods over drinks, alongside raffles and music, too. Animal Traffic, 429 SW 10th, Thurs April 9, 5-10 pm
• No discussion of Italian contributions to fashion is complete without addressing the importance of craftsmanship. That's why the Portland Art Museum's programming in conjunction with the Italian Style: Fashion Since 1945 exhibit includes a showcase of some of Portland's design talent, demonstrating and discussing their own techniques live in the gallery space every Saturday. This week the guest is Studio SKB/SKPDX. Crafting Fashion at Portland Art Museum's Object Stories gallery, 1219 SW Park, Sat 1-5 pm through April 25, included with $20 museum admission
• It's year five for the "Biggest Clothing Swap in the Northwest"! Men and women of all sizes (except child size, sorry) are encouraged to bring a bag/take a bag of pre-loved (clean! Wearable! No holes!) clothing, shoes, and accessories. Don't forget to grab yourself a cocktail while you're at it—funds raised go to finance the annual summertime Alley 33 fashion show. Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside, Sun April 12, 11 am-3 pm, $8-10, all ages