Recognized by Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler as Portland’s official fashion week, FashioNXT (pronounced fashion, next) is a runway show created by Tito Chowdhury. This year was the show’s 10th anniversary, and many people crowded the streets of downtown Portland to attend during the first week in October. As stated by the FashioNXT website, they strive to “shine a light on the city’s creative offerings.” The show hopes to promote well known and lesser known designers alike, bringing people together from around the world to share their love of fashion. Designers come from all across the country; Hawaii, New York, and California being just a few that were featured. These artists brought diversity to the runway, showcasing patterns and styles from different places.
An anonymous guest who attended the show on Oct. 7, and works at the Portland Fashion Institute (PFI) as an instructor, said that FashioNXT is the biggest runway show in Portland. She went more depth, mentioning how since there are multiple nights of the show and so many designers, it’s an extra special event. Each year the show gets bigger and greater. A general opinion I found when speaking to guests is that a lot of excitement comes from this growth and overall large size. With the annual change of designers comes the opportunity for guests to see new patterns, cuts, and have the anticipation of current and innovative fashion.
This year, FashioNXT welcomed more than 15 designers, Mondo Guerra (both a winner of “Project Runway All-Stars,” and a runner up on “Project Runway”) being one of them. People like Guerra draw the attention of guests and newer designers all around Portland. Curators for the show anticipate the ability to create with no limitations. Designers had collections ranging from models walking with angst for a collection on ‘Heartbreak Horror’ to joyful and traditional dancing accompanying clothes with Hawaiian prints and fabrics. This platform gives artists an opportunity to inspire and showcase their pieces to a local audience of varying fashion knowledgeability. Apart from being an incredible show, it has an extremely welcoming environment. A vendor who I spoke with at the show said that it “feels like a family” because everyone is so warm and inclusive.
FashioNXT, while showcasing the art of seasoned designers, also includes an emerging designer competition in which designers who are starting out can apply. If accepted, they design a full collection of clothes of any style. Kelli McDonough, a graduate from the Portland Fashion Institute (PFI), grew up completely separate from the fashion world, but once reaching her adult life and after working in dentistry, she realized she was passionate about making and designing clothes. This year, McDonough entered the emerging designers competition and won the highest viewers vote. She described the experience as hectic, saying she was given one and a half months once she was accepted to fully complete her collection. Nevertheless, it was beneficial for her. McDonough explained, “It was Kelli the student, Kelli the intern, Kelli the newbie. I feel like this was the first time I got to say it’s Kelli the Designer.”
The importance of fashion differs person to person on an individual level. “When I put on something, it’s how it makes me feel, clothes are very emotional,” explained another anonymous guest who attended the show. Similarly, McDonough said that the PFI has brought her the experience of a lifetime saying she “would be nowhere without them” and going on to describe it as a “passionate adventure.” The importance of this aspect of McDonough’s life to her shows a lot about how her life changed due to fashion and the PFI. The psychology of the importance of our clothes has been studied many times, and according to a study done by Hajo Adam and Adam Galinsky in 2012, the results of tasks varied depending on what was worn by subjects (in this case whether or not they wore white lab coats).
Results of studies like these show the effects of how what we wear can impact our lives. Having fashion shows, like FashioNXT, can inspire the public to wear and create new things, which might also have an immediate effect on self esteem. FashioNXT welcomes people from many different backgrounds and skill levels, showcases their talents, and gives opportunities for designers to publicize their art. More “people are getting into fashion” a guest emphasized, when asked about the future of the fashion world, later expressing his excitement for the continuous growth of FashioNXT.