Alec Marchant

Upcycled and avant garde at Everywhere Space

A designer collective on East Burnside aims to change the business model of retail fashion

I am holding a pair of cargo pants made from flexible orange nylon. Their surface is symmetrically festooned with several smartly constructed, triangular fanny-pack zipper-compartments, which look large enough to be useful, and small enough not to obstruct the wearer’s mobility. Nearby, the drapey sleeves of an oversized, mustard colored sweater, hanging from the end of a clothing rack reach lazily toward the floor.

The chest of the sweater is divided equally by two geometric patterns. On one side, a white triangle floats atop an ultramarine background. On the other, a thick doughnut of mustard colored fabric is framed by a white square. The sweater seems to transfer the minimalist perfection of a Piet Mondrian composition onto a three dimensional, wearable garment. If sweaters had personalities, this one would be simultaneously blasé and purposeful.

The clothes I am combing through were created by the inquiring minds of the designers at Everywhere Space, an avant garde fashion retail collective on East Burnside. The collective’s co-owners include Alexa Stark (@alexastark), Alec Marchant (@alec.marchant), Ryan Boyle (“Collect Call,” @collect_call_), and Rose Mackey (@thingsrosemakes). Everywhere Space is Stark’s brainchild, and occupies her former studio and retail space. Over the course of several visits to the shop, Stark and I discussed her inspiration for the space, the collective’s ambitions, and her views on the contemporary fashion market.

Pants by Alexa Stark. Photo credit: Alec Marchant.

Everywhere Space, Stark tells me, is a “fun fashion playland, run by designers who want you to feel joy.” Producing “clothing that is affordable, approachable, playful and for everybody,” all the designers in the collective up-cycle, establishing new relationships between raw materials, clothing manufacturers, and consumers. Up-cycling (or reworking) entails deconstructing and reconstructing garments, or creating clothing from materials that would otherwise be scrapped, like “deadstock” fabric. Ryan Boyle (Collect Call), the designer of the orange cargo pants described above, often uses found materials excavated from waste bins and free boxes. Boyle explains: “Not only is new fabric unsustainable, it’s financially unattainable. Even if I could afford new materials, I rarely find anything that inspires me…I learn a lot from taking apart pre-existing clothing.”

Continues…

Beauty, Romance, Horror: The Queer Poetics of Leigh Nishi-Strattner’s ‘Bone Honey’

Best known for her vogue triumphs in New York and Portland clubs, Leigh Nishi-Strattner has published a set of poems that celebrates sensory delights

By ANDREW JANKOWSKI

In his now-classic essay collection Ways of Seeing, the late artist and art critic John Berger distilled lightning with his take on classic depictions of the feminine: “You painted a naked woman because you enjoyed looking at her. Put a mirror in her hand and you called the painting ‘Vanity,’ thus morally condemning the woman whose nakedness you had depicted for your own pleasure.”

In Portland, the poet, performance artist and model Leigh Nishi-Strattner embodies Berger’s sentiment as a queer high femme, concerning herself with validating labors and expressions discouraged by toxic masculine culture. Whether she’s writing poetry, serving looks, or sharing her beauty secrets with one of the world’s biggest magazines, Nishi-Strattner stretches and bends the antiquated binary notions of how a woman can be. In November, the small press Club Soft Things hosted a salon to celebrate the release of Nishi-Strattner’s debut collection of romantic prose poetry, Bone Honey.

Leigh Nishi-Strattner at the publication party for Bone Honey, her new poetry collection/Photo by Alec Marchant

Held at a warehouse in inner Southeast Portland, three dozen people gathered to hear Nishi-Strattner and fellow Club Soft Things poet Gary Gamza, who uses they/them pronouns. Salon patrons ate hors d’oeuvres, drank cocktails, chatted and perused other CST titles sold by publisher Emily Daniels.

The warehouse had one room decorated with gilded tropical leaves, a candelabra, tea and prayer candles, lit by what looked like a red gelled X-ray reader. The other was lit only by a circle of white prayer candles and dried flowers repurposed from the rapper Maarquii’s album release party the week prior. This room, containing an antique upholstered wicker chair that belonged to Nishi-Strattner’s grandmother, was where Daniels introduced Gamza and Nishi-Strattner, describing their work as making the reader feel comfortable being vulnerable.

Continues…