|Portland's fashion industry feels growing pains|
|Page 4; Reader comments|
Jonathan Joseph Peters waves to the crowd after presenting his first collection since his Project Runway run at Portland Fashion Week.
Project Runway finalist Jay Sario takes a bow as he heads off the runway after presenting his denim-heavy spring collection at PFW. // Photos by Shaun Strickland
Henderson wants to be a fashion icon as recognizable as Christian Dior or Alexander McQueen with his Seth Aaron label carried in high-end stores such as Neiman Marcus on down to mass market retailer H&M.
“It all comes down to doing the work and putting yourself out there,” he says. “You’ve got to put yourself out there.”
He’s also been happy to use his profile to benefit the rest of Portland fashion.
Since his run, there have been more shoppers coming through Anne Bocci, which has carried his dresses for the last three years and where he’s made frequent appearances. Most come to browse dresses hand-sewn by the Project Runway winner that sell for as much as $395; more popular sellers have been autographed $49 skull pins from his accessories line. “We can’t keep them in stock,” Bocci says.
Other local stores that carry clothes from Project Runway designers say they’ve had some customers seek them out for the clothes, but most leave without a purchase.
Portland Fashion Week, which featured the 30-year-old Leanne Marshall before her Project Runway win and has helped identify other up-and-coming designers here, capitalized on Henderson’s success for this year’s show. Organizers reached out to Henderson and his fellow Runway finalists Jay Sario and Jonathan Joseph Peters for a show featuring the Runway designers.
Executive director Chris Cone said they saw it as a way to draw in wholesale buyers and national press for the first time, part of a bid to move Portland Fashion Week from being a “local entertainment” to a show that buyers will look to when placing orders.
“It all comes together for me into a picture where we can build kernels of an industry here so that designers, when they start getting those bites of success, don’t feel like they need to leave to let their business grow,” Cone says.
For this year’s show, organizers added an industry showroom for designers to meet with buyers and a public showroom where designers could sell clothes. Most buyers who attended were from local boutiques, rather than national chains or boutiques from other cities.