COPPER UNION CHRIS LOW

NOBODY CAN STOP ME from gushing about Copper Union apparel. Go ahead and try... you will fail. That's because this ground-breaking company is one of the best emerging clothing lines in Portland. And even better? The line focuses on plus sizes. Designer Claire Doody has earned accolades for her precise patterning with a focus on fit that sends a very clear message: Curves are not only welcome, they're encouraged. 

Copper Union's mission statement tells the story pretty clearly: "We design daily adornments for the feminine warrior. By focusing on two core values—fit and fabric—we create garments that flatter everyone from a size 12 to size 30. Copper Union loves to celebrate a woman's curves and creates styles with a confident attitude. We are also dedicated to designing and producing our garments here in Oregon."

  • CHRIS LOW
  • CHRIS LOW

In the relatively small universe of Portland designer-manufacturers, the new lookbook from Copper Union dropped like Thor's hammer. Doody designed all the garments, which, combined with her styling, make for a rambunctious collection of bold colors, bold prints, separates, and wovens. As a designer, I can't stress enough how commendable it is for a clothing company to offer a broad range of size gradations without relying too heavily on stretch knits. (Have I mentioned that nobody can stop me from raving about this company?) 

The growing demand for trendier plus-size garments is long overdue in American apparel manufacturing, and Copper Union is a frontrunner of sustainably produced, current styles.

I asked Doody about her inspiration for this current collection. "I wanted something that screamed fun, bright, and summery," she says. "So what's better than bold colors paired with black-and-white graphic prints? I have a love of surface design, and prints are always a huge influence for my collections. I usually design the silhouettes and then source fabrics—but sometimes the fabric can totally change the look of a piece. Other times a print just speaks to me, and I need it in my collection no matter what the garment might look like."

Doody's line is manufactured at Nashionland (alongside well-known and beloved Portland designers Carolyn Hart and Alyson Clair of Clair Vintage Inspired), and as a designer, she's a bit of a jill-of-all-trades. She studied costume design and fiber arts at Fairhaven College at Western Washington University, and interned with designer Andrew Harmon. This took her deep into the apparel manufacturing scene with visits to factories and dye houses, as well as experience with fabric sourcing and practically every other facet of the industry. She went on to work with a private label accessories manufacturing company, where her sample work and jewelry designs were sold to large chain stores.

Doody's degree in fiber arts is clearly employed in the styling components for the new lookbook, where she draws from traditional Japanese paper techniques. There are also glimpses of her background as a jewelry manufacturer with accessories providing continuity throughout the book. 

Your can find Copper Union locally at Amelia, Union Rose, A. Ell Atelier, and Asos Marketplace, or online at copperunionapparel.com. And if you like what you see, be sure to add this to your calendar: Copper Union will be hosting a special event on April 9 at Nashionland called Love Your Look: Make Your Own Rules for Styling Curves, which will be geared toward celebrating curvy women. It will include a trunk show of apparel, personal styling tips, and a photobooth, as well as food and drinks.


Love Your Look: Make Your Own Rules for Styling Curves
Nashionland, 1121 N Loring, #102, Sat April 9, 10 am, $15, copperunionapparel.com

  • CHRIS LOW
  • CHRIS LOW