Though her mother and grandmother both knew how to sew, Jasmine Patten didn’t learn the craft while sitting at their feet. When she came home from University of California Santa Cruz one vacation and eager to learn, her mom had these endearing words for her, “I’m busy,” and then pointed her daughter to the sewing machine.
Sandy Varzarschi had planned on a legacy of designing landscapes rather than garments when tragedy struck. In 2008, her eleven-year-old son was killed in an accident while playing flag football at school. “My world turned upside down,” she says. “I had no goals anymore.” A year later, she found out she was expecting and started to design and make clothes to keep herself occupied while on bed-rest. She soon realized that she had a knack for designing and a new goal. She attended a fashion show in Los Angeles and was inspired to start over. She opened Silkwood, a boutique in Beaverton through which she sells apparel, including her designs. More recently she opened another Silkwood shop in Portland’s Pearl District. The Varzarschi collection includes garments made from natural fibers, such as bamboo, cotton, wool and linen. She describes her clients as “a stylish woman seeking the unique.” Next…
A 150-year-old company synonymous with wool and the West, Pendleton was looking for a fresh look. The dilemma was how to update an icon known for its attachment to the past through Native American wool blankets. In 2010, it drew on the experience of three young designers from Portland. John Blasioli, Rachel Turk and Nathaniel Crissman had the right chemistry for the classic company hoping to get hip. Blasioli had been designing under his own label since 2009. His clean style could play as nicely on the prairie as in town. Likewise, the classic lines of pieces in the collection of Turk and Crissman—under their label Church & State—would be as comfortable on the trails as Portland’s urban rails. Together, they formed Pendleton’s Portland Collection. The trio use Pendleton’s vast archives of designs and blankets as the inspiration for the new collection, especially drawing on its 1970s Lobo series….
It was then that Rietz started to teach herself to sew. She began designing garments and brought them to Seaplane, a Portland mecca for local designers, before it closed in 2008. Her modern yet feminine designs began selling briskly and drew her into fashion full time, beginning with presenting her designs at fashion shows and then dabbling in wholesale.