Tito Chowdhury: FashioNXT

utumn means fashion week. By the time the European fashion weeks are ending in mid-October, the US West Coast fashion weeks is beginning. Portland starts it off in the second week of October, followed by Los Angeles and Vancouver, BC. Since 2006, Tito Chowdhury has been the executive producer of Portland’s most widely recognized fashion week, FASHIONXt. It is the nation’s sustainable fashion showcase, premiering collections from highly recognized and well-respected designers from Portland and around the world. The Portland show reflects Tito’s learned observations from other world-class fashion shows. He has received recognition in the global press, including the Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Book Moda, Flair from Italy, Spin, and Lufthansa Magazine. Here in Portland, Tito has also been recognized by the 2007, Mayor’s Spirit of Portland Award.

With the glitzy runway shows, after-parties, and media coverage, what is the most exciting part of fashion week to you?

What excites me is the recognition that Portland Fashion Week has received from the world stage. It’s the showcasing of Portland’s creative edge in fashion design to the international fashion community. It’s that SolarWorld’s number one media release in history was announcing their partnership with the event. It is the mayor of Portland reading about Portland fashion in the Wall Street Journal on a flight to Shanghai, China. It is the AP wire service story about eco-fashion launched in Portland. For those of us offstage who work so hard to make the event a success, the excitement comes from the bright lights shining on those on that world stage.

What is the impact of major technology companies, such as Intel and SolarWorld, as sponsors of Portland Fashion Week?

Portland Fashion Week has received broader global attention due to participation from large companies, and it is positive for those companies to be seen supporting local fashion designers. There was an Intel’s fashion week story that was shared on Intel’s Facebook page that created so much traffic it actually downed the blog server.

What sets Portland fashion apart?

The difference in Portland is the emphasis on the overall fashion forward lifestyle. Here the sense of self-expression isn’t just the clothing they wear, but also the technology they use as personal gadgets and the accessories they carry that fit their uniquely active, balanced and quality-conscious lifestyle.

You have been working with exciting emerging and independent designers over the years. What’s the biggest challenge emerging designers face?

The greatest challenge for new designers is the lack of resources to make the most of business development and marketing initiatives, and the high price of short run manufacturing. Perhaps the greatest challenge confronted by emerging or even established independent designers is capitalizing on their creative edge. Even though most of Oregon’s jobs come from small business, these young creatives are below the line of sight of those who would invest in their promise. Amelia Toro, the internationally known designer from Colombia who showed at Portland Fashion Week in 2010, was incredulous that more was not being done to capitalize on this creative edge that is Portland. In coming to Portland for Fashion Week, she also understood that Portland has a story to tell and that Portland Fashion Week offered the stage to tell that story

What are your greatest strengths and greatest challenges?

The greatest strengths and challenges are one and the same: it must be an exceptional experience. The designers, the sponsors, and most importantly the nearly 5,000 guests, don’t see all of the work that goes on behind the scene to make it.

Why did Portland’s most successful fashion week event become FASHIONXt? 

Portland Fashion Week has become an expression that touches all that is Portland, whether in Pioneer Courthouse Square, Saturday evening in a downtown hotel, or with Carrie Brownstein of Portlandia. But as an expression given meaning by all we see, it does not represent the distinct and exceptional experience that was Portland Fashion Week or will be FASHIONXt. FASHIONXt takes the experience to the next level with stunning runway shows and fashion forward lifestyle brands and technology in the plaza that will welcome FASHIONXt guests. FASHIONXt is about what is next in fashion and lifestyle, reflecting the creative edge that is Portland.

FASHIONXt sounds iconic Portland to me.

Indeed. It is that fashion forward lifestyle that makes Portland a market leader.

Can you give us the scoop on some of the most compelling things that will come out of FASHIONXt this October? Who are some of the most compelling fashion designers on the runway, and who will make some of the exciting lifestyle presentations on the Lifestyle Plaza?

FashionXt will still have extraordinary runway shows with designer stars like Michelle Decourcy, Seth Aaron, Michael Costello—but will also showcase fashion forward lifestyle representatives like Carbon Audio, the Kickstarter success story producing fashion forward iPad speakers that will be in Apple stores, etcetera.

FASHIONXt runs only a few days a year in one venue. How are you making it useful and relevant to the pertinent businesses during Fashion Week and throughout the year?

We work collaboratively with many local businesses and organizations, such as the Pearl District Business Association (PDBA), that use the week to bring attention to their businesses. We also work with fashion boutiques to place their designers on the runway.

FASHIONXt October 10th-13th


About The Author: DC Rahe

Contributing Editor