Portland Garment Factory Breathes Vitality to “Made in U.S.A.” Label
By MARIA MATIS | AUGUST 4th, 2011
If TV’s Portlandia hasn’t hooked you on all things Portland, the Portland Garment Factory surely will. The artisanal workshop, founded by self-taught seamster Britt Howard, offers a range of services from pattern construction to garment production. All work is done on-site in the southeast neighborhood of Montavilla to cater to the growing ranks of designers in the region. (Three out of eight Project Runway winners, including season 8′s Gretchen Jones, are from the metro area.) With a staff that’s as earnest as it’s endearing, the factory is unique in an industry prone to outsourcing.
Rosemary Robinson, co-owner of PGF, is a pattern expert whose first introduction to the workshop was as a potential client. Within a few months, she and Howard became business partners, and the company has been thriving ever since.
MADE IN AMERICA
It’s no coincidence that a plethora of independent designers, including three Project Runway winners, hail from the Portland area. The Oregon city crackles with creativity and vigor, coupled with a yen for all things green. When Britt Howard launched the Portland Garment Factory in 2008, she filled an obvious vacuum: a garment workshop that caters to grassroots companies while capturing Portland’s homegrown spirit, all without the high minimums and complicated production logistics that most apparel manufacturers require.
Portland Garment Factory caters to grassroots companies without the complicated production logistics.
“We’re able to provide jobs and create a real designer community here, which is better than I ever hoped,” Howard says. “We are working our way towards a version of a garment district.”
But the Stumptown Coffee-loving owner has no plan of stopping there. With a new business partner and on its third location, the expanding company plans to launch its own collection of womenswear called “Houseline.” Targeted at the eco-conscious woman, the line is set to debut in fall.