Last Thursday night, fall fashion was on full display in downtown Portland as the Rose City celebrated Fashion’s Night Out along with several hundred cities around the world. Portland’s local and national retailers put on runway shows, held special events — such as trunk shows, makeovers, music and refreshments, and in the case of Columbia, a special Parkour demonstration — and offered one-night-only sales. Despite the 90-degree temperatures and the fact that the event was going up against the start of the NFL season, thousands of Portlanders came out for the event.
The events kicked off with a brief speech from Portland Mayor Sam Adams and a runway show at 5 p.m., during which most of the participating downtown retailers showed off their fall wares. It was an eclectic mix of clothing, including a lot of ‘70s and ‘80s attire — bell-bottom pants with paisley chiffon shirts and platform sandals, and hot-pink-colored dresses with bright tights, for example — and then some very “Portlandia” items, like Southwest-inspired sweaters over multiple layers of other shirts. There were several more runway shows during the evening, but the last one was the most highly anticipated show: Pendleton’s debut of its new Portland Collection. There looked to be several hundred people in the audience for that show, everyone buzzing about the new designs.
One thing that became clear to me personally while watching these runway shows and attending the events at Portland’s boutiques and national retailers, is that I am not into couture fashion. I loved the simple, classic Mad Men collection at Banana Republic, for example, which is certainly “fashionable” but not couture. I also really liked Columbia’s new CITY collection, which seemed perfect for Portland’s aesthetic and weather. Others were hits or misses for me. For example, I’m not sure if Pendleton’s collection is considered couture or something else, but I found myself wondering who its intended customers were (certainly not me). Some other boutique retailers and designers also had intriguing collections that left me wondering if I’m past age of the intended customer. Oh well. My companions and I had fun looking at what passes for fashion these days and participating in the fun, such as taking our pictures in Columbia's new line in front of a Portland Monthly poster; the end result was us looking like we were on the cover of Portland Monthly (see image)!
Regardless of whether you liked or didn’t like the various fall fashions, the atmosphere was jovial and everyone seemed to be having a good time — and there were certainly good deals to be found (including that if you spent $150 at participating retailers, you got a swag bag with an American Express gift card in it). If you didn’t make it to this year’s event, be sure to check it out next year.