The Alley 33 Fashion event took place on a perfect summer day for a block party in the heart of SE Portland. Each year this show builds out a massive runway in an unassuming alley at 33rd Ave and Hawthorne, and showcases the largest premier of ready-to-wear designers that our fair city can see in one production. The 2016 roster brought 18 designers to the public eye, headlined by a PDX favorite, Sarah Bibb for Folly Boutique.
(Full disclosure here: I'm the producer of this particular event. Splitting my time between writing about fashion, producing fashion shows, and running my own apparel company is a full time job. With so many incredible designers, I feel it’s important to do a recap of each company.)
In usual tradition, Altar Houseline opened the show to set the tone for a ready-to-wear focused program. Simple silhouettes with print-focused designs that are geared towards creating everyday layering elements. It was nice to feature a softer side of the company with a brighter color story.
Next up was Lizz Basinger Designs: an apparel company with an eye for darting, pleating, and gathering. Garments may appear effortless and familiar, but the carefully executed design sensibility is hiding in the details. My favorite look was a striped t-length dress with perfectly lined up stripes.
Machine Apparel followed up with another incredible monochromatic collection. Taking familiar apparel styles and adding some innovative, edgy elements made the collection look perfectly urban and very wearable. My favorite look from this company was a sheer overlay top that could style so many ways.
One of our favorite companies in Portland right now, Moore has been making both men’s and women’s apparel with incredible taste level, design sensibility, and tailoring. We're expecting big things from this company, which also focuses on ethical textile sourcing and vegan manufacturing guidelines. The breadth of work we're seeing from Moore is stunning, especially knowing that it's a one-woman show. Keep an eye on this company, for sure. The print story on the men’s shorts was TDF.
Another company ruling the scene in Portland is Copper Union. This company represents a movement in apparel manufacturing that's focused on body positivity and professional, beautifully tailored size gradations. Designer Claire Doody has one of the keenest eyes for prints, styling, silhouette, and color story. Portland should be incredibly proud to have a company of this caliber in our city.
One of our favorite crossover lines, KD Designs brings wearable, easy fit clothing that drapes beautifully and employs luscious textile. You can find KD Designs in many boutiques across Portland and it's SUPER wearable in your every day way. My favorite from her collection was an off-the-shoulder maxi dress that paired a boxy, oversized top with a body con dress. Beautiful use of fabric.
Bringing us back to textile, we can focus for a moment on the source of a garment. Piper Dalton Knitwear hand fabricates all knitted elements of these garments then patterns them into beautiful garments. We can't stress enough how special this line is, from start to finish, so keep your eyes on the bright future of Piper Dalton Knitwear. My favorite look was the black t-length body con dress that I would positively LIVE in.
Everyone who knows me knows that Make It Good is probably my number one favorite clothing company. From dying, printing, cutting, sewing, and everything in between, they show us that it can and SHOULD be done right here in Portland. Adding in ethical textile sourcing/milling practices and what we're learning from this company is what it actually takes to make. it. good. My favorite look from this company was all of them; incredibly wearable, tastefully styled—that royal blue tunic dress was stunning.
Silhouette Boutique was a newcomer to the Alley 33 runway, but has been running an alterations and bespoke based business in NE Portland for some time now. They gave us a nice summer refresher with some bold floral printed rompers that seemed effortless and fun, while still being mature and tasteful.
This next company, Hovden Formal Farmwear, made quite a splash this year with a collection unlike any other. Focusing on “farm wearable” minimalism with a highly stylized use of leather suspenders and hardware, we got the feeling that this clothing is about returning to a simpler time. It was a heritage take on apparel fit for a hard day’s work. Favorite look of the night was definitely the plaid with suspenders, styled with some currency by pairing with some skinny jeans. The whole look was awesome.
One of the most popular moments of the show goes out to Chubby Cartwheels. This company always has a penchant for stealing the show with a bold, fun collection that is beautifully crafted and more FUN than your average everyday. This year designer Shawna Farmer went with cosmic vibes and included adorably styled dresses, rompers, and body suits. Did I mention that Chubby Cartwheels is proudly focused on plus size apparel? I fell in love with the sheer mesh baby doll dress. I could see a million different ways to wear it and it was one of my favorite dresses of the entire night (on a model who I think is an epic babe).
Carla Mink has brought yet another collection from her house line that everyone could identify with. The print stories were tasteful and transition beautifully from a day to evening look. Incredibly versatile and may serve as a great bridge for clients looking for a professional aesthetic that is also on trend. My favorite look from Mink was a blue and white summer dress that had a perfect natural waist line.
Lostwood Lane has launched this year with a tasteful collection of ready-to-wear knits that cull heavily from the eco-fashion movement. The color story is muted in a beautifully laid out sensibility. The emphasis on sage is great for the coming season. We loved the peplums and the beautiful princess seams as well.
The emergence of more men’s wear is a shot in the arm in Portland’s ready-to-wear scene. We are super excited to see beautifully tailored shirts that broaden the offerings in the category. New to the Alley 33 runway, we were super pleased with Tellurian Fieldwear, which had a whimsical color story and power clash of prints.
Another company with a bold color story is Holly Ren Designs, which has been producing apparel in NE Portland for a number of years. A focus on knitwear with a flair for innovation, this company defies the Portland standard of muted tones. Holly Ren also gets a best in show for the amazing overalls seen here:
Carolyn Hart apparel has been a beloved company in the Portland fashion scene for years. Her tasteful textile choices, effortless silhouettes, and classy ready-to-wear pieces are a perfect element to any wardrobe. We loved the princess seamed long sleeve blouse in this collection, as well as the every-scenario-useful grey woven dress.
Last year’s Alley 33 headliner, Amelia, is the flagship line from Amelia Boutique on Alberta. These dresses are versatile, beautiful, and bright. My favorite element of Amelia apparel is textile choice. The drape is always on, the prints are always pretty, and the dresses have just the right amount of flirty sensibility to balance their elegance.
And finally, our headliner this year is the incredible Sarah Bibb, owner of Folly Boutique, who never fails to bring her A-game. Folly is a most loved boutique and house line because it has a little of everything. Classic, sophisticated, stunning quality, all put together with a sparkle of fun and playful design sensibility. Her NW boutique has been proudly delivering exceptional apparel for eight years. It does not surprise that the following looks are also in the “best in show” short list:
Overall, Alley 33 this year brought us another massive line up that casts a broad net of design aesthetics—no wonder it has taken me this long to get my recap up. 18 designers, whew!!