Solar Is the New Black at Portland Fashion Week


While we’re still frothing at the mouth over Portland, Oregon’s own Gretchen Jones winning the last two week’s Project Runway challenges, Seth Aaron, winner of last season’s Project Runway is doubling the energy in the City of Roses.

Looking forward to Portland Fashion Week, Aaron will be presenting a collection inspired by SolarWorld as a reaction to “Pressing energy, environmental and economic challenges facing the country,” and because of his interest in exploring solar technology’s aesthetic possibilities.

The collection will be unveiled October 9 in PFW’s Sustainable Fashion Showcase in Portland.

This isn’t PFW’s first foray into promoting alternative and sustainable fashion, there’s a whole page of information on their site that will educate you more about their initiatives including having a show at Portland City Hall (with Portland’s Mayor, City Council and press in attendance), to educate policy-makers on planet-friendly practices in fashion to their construction of runways with eco-friendly materials and even using sustainably-certified hotels for their guests.

We caught up with both Aaron and PFW Executive Producer Prasenjit Tito Chowdhury to see just what to expect over the next few months.


EcoSalon: Can you talk about how PFW will be the “World’s first carbon-neutral fashion week production?” What are some ways you’re going to make this happen?

Prasenjit: Portland Fashion Week is the first comprehensive sustainable production of a fashion week in the world. We take look at all the elements of the fashion week production and make steps to minimize the impact. PFW uses eco-friendly styling products on models, sets are made of sustainably harvested wood, printing is done on recycled paper, there won’t be any plastic bottles at the venue but you’ll find compostable corn-cups for drinks, low voltage LED lighting, electric connections through non-plastic-tape connectors, and sustainable swag bags, to name a few.

Regarding a carbon neutral Portland Fashion Week, the Bonneville Environmental Foundation has provided BEF Water Restoration Certificates(TM) and Green-e Energy-certified BEF Renewable Energy Certificates generated from 100 percent clean, renewable energy for the energy and water used to produce Portland Fashion Week. Both BEF and Green-e are sponsors of PFW.

Prasenjit: In addition to Seth Aaron’s solar-inspired collection, eco-conscious designers and labels like Pendleton, Amai Unmei and Ethos Paris will be putting their fashion on the PFW runway. Others are coming as well who have committed and we are looking forward to releasing their names once we ink our agreements.

EcoSalon: Seth, you say in a Fibre2Fashion article: “There was inspiration from the second I stepped foot in the SolarWorld factory.” Can you share with us how some of that inspiration will come into being for your collection at PFW?

Seth Aaron: Things just jumped out at me – impressions – It was all hyper-futuristic. There were intense graphic grids, hard lines, very clean and crisp, structured. It was metal and robotic and just an impressive space! There were also bold color palettes – the deepest blues, blacks, and almost science-fiction silvers – that your eyes just fall into.

EcoSalon: I love that you partnered with both SolarWorld and PFW to do this collection. To bring fashion to the forefront of sustainability, would you suggest more designers partnering with innovative companies to showcase themselves and the company’s mission?

Seth Aaron: The partnership with SolarWorld has been awesome and sure I would recommend that others establish relationships with world-leaders in sustainability or business – I mean it’s been pretty incredible to see the story of my fashion collection turn up in everything from the BusinessWire section of Forbes, to conventional fashion mags and blogs, eco-lifestyle and fashion sites, all the way to German business wires and renewable-energy, techno-geek publications!

EcoSalon: Am I reading correctly that there’s going to be a completely solar paneled runway for October’s PFW?

Prasenjit: Oh yeah. The runway will be covered in SolarWorld’s all-new black monocrystalline solar panels. Imagine the look of polished obsidian.

EcoSalon: Nice.

Image: Fred Joe Photo

Amy DuFault

Amy DuFault is a conscious lifestyle writer, consultant and fashion instigator. She resides in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.