MARKING THE UNOFFICIAL close of high summer, the August 26 Fade to Light fashion show turned out new collections from eight designers (a selection from each is shown here). Highlights included the latest from Sara Bergman, Bryce Black, and a suspiciously straightforward (for them) take on the PDX Carpet craze from design duo Jeanne Tunberg and Joshua Buck of WWJJD. We learned that Greek Orthodox vestments can look plausible on the runway, that bird-lady chic is a workable strategy, and if you buy just one dress this year there's a reasonable chance it's black, with a short skirt under a longer sheer overlay. The whole recap, including more images, is up now.
This week, Physical Element hosts the launch of fall womenswear from emerging Portland brand West Daily, including a kimono-style jacket exclusive. We asked West Daily designer/creator Jason Calderon about the brand:
MERCURY: How does your activewear sensibility play into this collection?
JASON CALDERON: I aim for my designs to be directional, but maintain a level of practicality. I'm fascinated by designs that become universally loved—Levi's 501 jeans, Converse Chuck Taylors. Activewear is a natural fit. I use a 100 percent Merino wool fabric that helps the wearer maintain a comfortable body temperature and is naturally resistant to stains, water, odor, and flames.
What's your perspective on Portland as a city to pursue a fashion business?
Portland is establishing itself as a major player. We don't have all of the resources, but there have been steps taken. We're starting to see grant money, an increase in local production services, and great independent shows. Portland also has amazing retailers like Physical Element, MadeHere PDX, and Machus—all of whom carry my product—and creative individuals who love to collaborate. West Daily recently teamed up with Coalition Brewing Co. to create a beer and workwear collection called "Tastemaker." It was incredible seeing a West Daily beer in grocery stores, bottle shops, and bars, and I am not sure it would have happened if my business were located in another city.
To what degree is environmentalism a factor in your work?
Consideration of the environment plays a large role in my approach to design. The business model of offering cheaply made, disposable clothing at a constant pace is devastating the environment. The world's resources simply cannot sustain the amount of product we produce and dispose of. My approach is to slow things down and only offer a small selection of designs per season. I want people to think about the product I offer and determine if it's right for them. I want them to imagine how they would wear it and how it could complement their wardrobe.
All of our product is made in the USA to help reduce the use of fuel used in shipping goods from one country to another. We only source our materials from mills with a commitment to sustainability and ethical manufacturing practices. I minimize wasted fabric with strategic patternmaking, and I do my best to keep my clothing free of harmful chemicals and dyes.
Culturally, what are your influences?
I can't begin to list them all, but Sergio Leone and Ennio Morricone western films; early Frank Miller work on Batman, Daredevil, and Wolverine; Mad Max: Fury Road; Motown classics; Chromatics; Young Thug; and the direction Hedi Slimane is going with Yves Saint Laurent couture and their new workspace in a 17th century French mansion. I've been obsessing over a topic addressed in the book Rise of the Robots by Martin Ford: We are all going to lose our jobs to robots. It's kind of a downer, but it's forced me to start thinking creatively about what lies ahead. I could tell you how this might manifest, but I think it'll be more fun to let you wait and see. West Daily women's collection launch, Physical Element, 416 NW 12th, Thurs Sept 3, 5-8 pm