I assumed that on Friday, when the City Club of Portland took as its topic "Moving Fashion Forward in Portland," there would be a fair amount of broad strokes with a side of platitudes. Fashion, after all, isn't the usual topic of discussion at these gatherings, and City Club regulars would need some background.

The panelists—former Project Runway contestants Seth Aaron (who won, as well as winning the show's all-stars spinoff) and Becky Ross, Portland Sewing's Sharon Blair, Seth Friedermann of Manufacture New York, Pendleton president Mort Bishop, and David Howitt of the Meriwether Group—obliged where applicable. There were statements about designing "from the heart" emphasis on the "passion" required for an apparel design career, and a reiteration of what has been pointed to as fundamental challenges for pursuing said career in this city: production and funding.

Eventually things started to get down to brass tacks, though it was a far cry from finding any solutions. To me perhaps the most interesting thing about it is to have these issues—which have been bandied about in panel discussions of various types for years—be a subject in this context, getting people who aren't already involved in the industry to even contemplate apparel design as part of the city's cultural capital, as well as a potentially significant economic sector. Head over to MOD for more on the specifics of what was discussed, and/or watch the whole thing yourself via the magic of YouTube: