Adam Arnold Marjorie Skinner

OUTSIDE THE DIN of Portland Fashion Week [see Feature, pg. 13] is one of the year's most important shows for Portland design supporters: the Adam Arnold Fall/Winter '10 show. It may or may not be tough to decide which to attend, but for Arnold's loyal clients, the choice is clear. I checked in with Arnold to see what's bubbling in his expressive, opinionated mind right now:

MERCURY: The collection you sent down the runway at [the Mercury's spring fashion show] Open Season seemed an almost angered response to sloppiness of dress. Would you say that's accurate?

ADAM ARNOLD: I am easily angered by sloppiness and general lack of respect in the way people present themselves. Maybe "angered" isn't the right word. More like personally concerned. The way one dresses is one of the simplest ways that one can express oneself without speaking. It makes me incredibly concerned ("angered") when I see people walking down the street in sweatpants as if it is appropriate. It is not appropriate, it is disrespectful. There is a lot of talk in Portland about the environment; why is it that some people chose to overlook one of the most visual aspects of this cause? We see other people every day, at the grocery store, the restaurant, the bank, the bar, and for the most part they haven't considered that what they are wearing is causing a general malaise in the overall outlook. They have just succeeded in polluting the environment. The visual environment. Thinking about how one chooses to present oneself doesn't have to do with how much money someone has. Take pride in your appearance, and know that it is NEVER appropriate to wear sweatpants on the street (unless you are jogging, or your house or apartment is on fire and you had to run out onto the street).  

And while we're on the anger (or personal concern) subject, why is it that there is a lack of coffee shops that are open on the weekends or after 5 pm? Don't these business owners realize that we want coffee ALL THE TIME?!! Portland had at least three coffee shops in the '90s that were open until at least midnight. It seems like as the position of barista and coffee roaster is elevated to the point of beverage monarchy, the actual coffee being roasted is becoming less and less obtainable. Okay, done.

What are your references this season?

This collection did not start with a list. It did begin with a desire to make a few pieces that I have been wanting to make for some time. You might be surprised to know that a lot of things you see from me were actually designed about five or six years ago. Sometimes I just run out of time before a show and it gets pushed to the next year. Sometimes it never gets made. Sometimes I will find a fabric that sparks a new design or reignites the excitement of a piece previously designed. That is kind of what happened this time. I was extremely inspired by my fabric, as well as making a considerable effort to bring some things I'd previously designed (or thought about designing) into the actual garment stage. All in all, that somehow brought about a general "Scottish Highlands meets the Charles de Gaulle Airport meets the damp depths of an ancient cave."  No music, as my computer was stolen, and along with it all the music. TThe only thing I've been listening to is Joy Division radio on Pandora, coupled with "Oh Sheila" by Ready for the World, and one track of Japanese classical koto music. Over and over again. Quite consciousness expanding, indeed.

How has the new studio environment affected your process?

Working in my new studio is like going to work in heaven every day. Because of the no-shoe rule, my feet have become quite toned and muscled, and sensitive to the earth beneath them. I'll definitely know when "The Big One" comes to Portland way before KOIN.

I have a lot more room to move around and walk away from something in my new place. That means there is more space for my designs to "breathe" and therefore, I believe, become better and more relevant. People seem to enjoy the space, too. It has a certain calm, peaceful vibe that makes people happy. A man in a cape came by one day and did a magical blessing on it while I sewed a couple of do-rags for him. You know that can't hurt! Oh yeah, and the 126-year-old building is getting a brand-new, chic paint job.

If there's one article of clothing you should have made, what should it be?

The more I make my designs to fit people, the more I can't believe that people can actually find clothes off the rack that fit. Either that, or people don't know what it feels like when something fits anymore. For the most part what you buy off the rack is shit. Cheaply made out of cheap, disposable fabric, with construction techniques that are more about pinching pennies than holding a garment together. And the fit? Please! There is no "fit" in most garments. It's more like, "Does this work?"  or "How does this look on my ass?" And if it doesn't "work" or "look good on your ass," you take them off and try another and another and another until something does "fit." That takes a lot of time and frustration. Time and frustration is costly. Things that are eliminated when a garment is made for you. Also, there is some misunderstanding as to exactly what I do. I am a designer that designs a men's and women's line of clothing. Examples of my designs can be found in my studio and online at adam-arnold.com. I will make my designs to fit you. I measure you and draft a pattern and make a fitting, cut out the fabric and sew it up. All for you. I get inspired and design a garment that you can then have made in your size, by me. A lot of what I do is classic, so I will make a suit or shirt or jeans or other classic garment to fit, even though you won't necessarily find it in my line, but I won't custom design something for a person unless I have become acquainted with them enough (and they have become acquainted enough with my aesthetic) to become inspired by them.

Are there any special twists to the show this year, like last season's sock party?

There are no shoes allowed in my studio, anytime. So be prepared to leave them at the door. (Wear some groovy socks?) There won't be any beautiful ladies handing out free socks [from Sock Dreams] like last time, but there will be a photo booth and DJ Beyonda. And as always is the case, wearing something I made is greatly encouraged. I love to see how the clothes I've made for people have become a part of them and their lives. Adam Arnold Fall/Winter 2010 Fashion Show, Adam Arnold Studio, 338 SE MLK, Fri Oct 8, 7:30 pm