Each year, Design Week Portland brings together Portland thinkers, makers and creators in industries ranging from fashion to graphic design to address their industry's most pressing issues, while showcasing looks and trends that'll keep us talking until next year's expo. Technology, history and identity are always big topics—they offer fertile inspirational ground for recognizing where we've been, where we're going and how we're going to get there.
New ground gets broken every year and innovations push the endless boundaries of possibility…or something. This year, though, the most interesting conversations revolve around the people and perspectives for which those boundaries exist, and how they've managed to break past them. Just because we've had these discussions before—the appropriation of Native American designs by white designers, the merger of fashion and technology, the ethics of representation—doesn't mean those issues are anywhere near resolved.
These five Design Week Portland talks and shows represent some of creative Portland's most pressing topics, in which artists, designers, CEOs, financial experts and other top-tier industry peers will share stories and statistics, to make their cases for the future of fashion in Portland and beyond.
Future Frontiers: Crossing Boundaries of Innovation, Technology and Design
By themselves, Francis Bitonti, Asher Levine and Billie Whitehouse are exciting contemporary designers, and emerging technology is at the heart of their aesthetics: Studio Bitonti translates big data to create efficient and aesthetic geometric designs algorithmically; Lady Gaga wears Levine's fashion-meets-functional-sci-fi looks during her Las Vegas residency; and Whitehouse's WearableX makes luxury yoga pants that link to an app, using haptic feedback to track and respond to the wearer's workout. Together, the three designers will talk sustainability and wearable tech in a panel moderated by Todd S. Harple and Jim Chi. Ziba, 810 NW Marshall St. 5:30 pm Tuesday, April 9. $45.
The Native Perspective Missing From Design
For this taping of Oregon Public Broadcasting's State of Wonder podcast, artists Whitney Minthorn and Louie Gong are among the guests discussing the disparity between the images white fashion designers appropriate when they make reductive "Native-inspired" fashions and the images used by contemporary Native artists and designers. Minthorn, Gong and guests also discuss paths toward decolonizing the fashion industry, and how to make more equitable systems in the industry. PSU Native American Student & Community Center, 710 SW Jackson St. 4 pm Wednesday, April 10. Free.
Breaking Borders: From Mexico to the World
At a panel talk moderated by Andrea Perez for a group art show's reception, Mexican creative leaders share stories and discuss how they see the impact of Mexican design and its reach beyond the United States, and how the perceptions of contemporary Mexican aesthetics are shifting. Alan V. Favaro is creative director of celebrated interior designer Taller Lu'um, using traditional Mexican workman practices and materials in contemporary furniture and home décor. Mariana Garcia is a photographer and the founder of P Magazine, a limited-edition hardcover art book. Alonso Murillo is a self-described "genderless creature" whose avant-styled models have appeared in magazines such as Elle, Nylon and Harper's Bazaar. Ricardo Gonzalez is a muralist whose colorful, text-based works have shown around the world. Industry, 415 SW 10th Ave., Suite 200. 6 pm Thursday, April 11. Free.
This one-night POC art fair, market expo and fashion show is themed after the contemporary American immigrant experience. All profits benefit the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization, whose reps and community members will share how IRCO has helped connect them with supportive communities and resources. Fashion show highlights include a wearable embroidery art exhibition celebrating women from around the world, and an immersive nail-art experience based on the Statue of Liberty's poem, "The New Colossus." Hoxton Hotel, 15 NW 4th Ave. 6 pm Friday, April 12. $10.
Finance, Fashion and Feminism
Charlene Quaresma, financial adviser to Portland's creative class, leads a historical showcase through modern fashion history, pairing looks and trends with important bits of financial history affecting women. Quaresma was inspired to write the talk when she realized how a vintage dress she wore to work was from an era when American women had less financial freedom, and how the male-dominated industry she works in is still catching up to the times. Northwestern Mutual hosts a networking mixer and offers free onsite financial consulting and planning. Northwestern Mutual, 200 SW Market St., 16th floor. 6 pm Friday, April 12. $15.
MORE: Design Week Portland starts Saturday, April 6, and goes through April 13. See designportland.org for complete schedule.