Up/NXT Portland’s Emerging Designer Contest

A look from last year's FashioNXT, from Project Runway alum Michael Costello

While Seattle has some great fashion shows, both for designers and retailers, Seattle Fashion Week has fallen by the wayside. Portland, however, has two fashion weeks, FashioNXT and Portland Fashion Week. (FashioNXT was Portland Fashion Week until this year and FashioNXT's executive producer Tito Chowdhury has led the charge for years. He sees FashioNXT as "the continuation of past Portland fashion weeks at a higher level." He continues, "our long experience in catapulting emerging designers to get national press and prominent accounts enabled us to identify the critical needs for the emerging designers to boost their business to the next level."

While there are a few great local designers participating in Portland Fashion Week (Built for Man, Kate Mensah, Kimmi Designs and Deyonte Weather), FashioNXT has the distinction of hosting a bevvy of Project Runway alum, including recent winner Michelle Lesniak, past winner Seth Aaron, all star Michael Costello and contestants Becky Ross and Joshua Christensen. And they’ve got Intel as a sponsor, which totally ups their cred. 

In past years, I have been a judge Up/NXT, FashioNXT’s emerging designer competition, and they’ve asked me back once again this summer and extended a hearty invitation to designers from the Seattle-area (and the Pacific Northwest at large) to enter. I really wish you would. How fun would it be to represent in Portland? Plus, I’ll be there as a friendly face. Other judges joining me on the panel are Project Runway’s Lesniak, Aaron and Costello (I’m pretty psyched about that) as well as Mario’s buyer Simon Chan, Annie Ponti from Mercantile, Anne Bocci from Anne Bocci Boutique, Sue Bonde, director of apparel design at the Art Institute of Portland, Eden Dawn from Portland Monthly and the very awesome Marjorie Skinner, executive editor at the Portland Mercury. We’ll be picking finalists to show on the runway on Thursday, October 10 in Portland (although I have to miss that show unforch, it’s Urban Unveiled in Seattle that night) and the winner will receive a spot in next year’s FashioNXT, a computer from Intel, boutique placement and all the publicity that comes with this kind of thing.

(Keep in mind, however, that the selected finalists will be expected to pay $350 towards the show production fee. Additionally, finalists will be required to present a cohesive eight-piece collection on October 10, and may be presented with up to three design challenges from the judges.)

Here are the deets:
-Auditions for Up/NXT are August 18 from 10 a.m. to noon in Portland at the Courtyard Marriott Portland City Center.
-The competition is open to ready-to-wear and couture clothing designers whose annual revenue is less than $50,000.
-Bring with you a representative number of fully constructed garments, which may be from past collections. A live model is not necessary, but you may bring one if you so choose.
-You will be judged. Specifically on originality, creativity, quality and marketability.
-There is a $35 entry fee (cash or check only).
-You may secure your time spot by emailing designers@fashionxt.net or take your chances and just show up at the audition.