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Summer Wear and Deep Discounts

Sun's out, which means our closet time will be spent styling outfits around a swimsuit. And for those looking for the best in local options, scope out the wares of one of Portland's lesser-known designers.

Earl A. Marson grew up in Jamaica, where his first sewing experiences came from watching his sister and mother work—his mother, to this day, avidly reconstructs existing clothing, adding feminine pleats to blouses and other customizations. When Marson was about 14, his mother immigrated to the United States, leaving him as the last remaining family member in their native country.

Under the care of his godmother, Marson's stress over the transition led him to lose quite a bit of weight—so much so that his clothing no longer fit. His school was strict about student appearance, requiring that uniforms—accented with epaulets displaying the school colors—not only fit properly but be crisply ironed and cleaned. As such, Marson's first hands-on sewing lesson was teaching himself how to take in his own clothing.

Emboldened by this early success, Marson continued to learn the art, along with his other interests, which included drawing and music. A year after his mother left for the US, Marson joined her on the East Coast, and when it was time for him to choose a college, he enrolled in the Rhode Island School of Design to study apparel.

Now approaching his mid-40s, Marson has been living in Portland for almost 10 years, where he works making wedding dresses designed by Sarah Mansfield at the Bridal Loft (2808 NE MLK, #3). Having apprenticed under a number of other specialists as well, including a tailor of men's suits, Marson has been steadily building his skills, if rather quietly. He showed his collection of beachy bikini-inspired tops and breezy wrap skirts in a show with the Urban Art Network last winter. The show had the poor luck of being scheduled on the one day when it snowed, and although the show went off well, attendance suffered.

Most people are more likely to know Marson as Earl the Reggae Allstar, frontman for his band Earl and the Reggae Allstars. Although he does custom work, his clients find him through word of mouth, as he doesn't advertise his services. When the time is right, though, he plans to open his own studio, designing and producing multi-media events that showcase his variety of artistic interests. For now, this week's fashion show is the premiere of what will be a monthly design showcase, collaborating with other local designers for a free night of fashion and music at the newly expanded Clinton Corner Café, which is now outfitted with more space and a big bar. Earl and the Reggae Allstars will, of course, provide live music for the debut. (Clinton Corner Café, 2633 SE 21st, Mon July 3, music at 6 pm, runway shows at 7 and 10 pm, free)

When it's time to get out of the river and pound the pavement, you'll need some streetwear. Go for something witty and urban, and don't pay full price. Score huge bargains at a huge sample sale this weekend, featuring hip designs from Hecklewood, db clay, Brown Sound, HelloMinor, Crazy Coconut Creations, Monsieur T, Sameunderneath, and more. Look for T-shirts, wallets, and leather accessories at deep discounts. And lest you get bored, there will be DJ N8trak, Chad the Marinator, and DJ Verbz, and booze—you'll want to hang out all day. (Disjecta, 230 E Burnside, Sat July 1, 11 am-6 pm, $2—includes drinks)

If you're rooting for the home-team Goliath, then you'll want to take note of the big sale starting this week at the Adidas Originals stores, with items of the past season, including limited editions, selling at up to 50 percent off. Our good neighbor rarely has sales, and this is one of two that happen annually, so no sense putting it off. (Sale begins Thurs June 29, Adidas Originals, 1039 NW Couch)

Send shopping and fashion tips to marjorie@portlandmercury.com

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