Interested in designing athletic apparel that is both practical and fashionable? Look no further than Portland. The city is home to some of the biggest sportswear companies in the world, including Nike, Adidas, Columbia, and Keen.
The latest research shows that there’s a huge demand for athleisure (clothing that is sporty, comfortable, and can be worn in everyday settings)—and thus, a growing need for people who understand sportswear design. According to Fortune, in 2015, athletic wear sales were up 12 percent while the rest of retail sales remained stagnant.
What’s more, the trend shows no signs of slowing down. Deirdre Clemente, a history professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas who studies 20th-century American culture and fashion, believes that athleisure is the new casual.
“Styling is evolving to merge business casual and sportswear into one,” Clemente told Business Insider. “Durability of sportswear and the versatility of business casual—put those two things together, and who’s not going to want to buy it?”
In order to accommodate this growing field, several Portland-based colleges have started offering sportswear design programs. Last year, Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) and PENSOLE Footwear Design Academy launched PNCA | PENSOLE—a 15-credit, 12-week intensive that prepares students for a career in the product creation industry.
“This intensive is one of a number of new design programs we have under development to expand options for our ambitious students,” said Don Tuski, president of PNCA.
“Oregon has a rich history in the footwear industry, and PENSOLE’s team has been a key part of it with over 100 years of combined experience,” said D’Wayne Edwards, founder of PENSOLE. “Nowhere else can an emerging designer get this kind of rigorous training.”
Other local colleges offer similar programs.
The University of Oregon, for example, has graduate programs in both Sports Product Management and Sports Product Design. Portland State University provides athletic and outdoor certificate programs. There are also numerous networking and training workshops that are hosted through organizations like the Portland Fashion Institute, the Portland Apparel Lab, Portland Sewing, and Laptops & Smalltalk.
For anyone seriously considering a career in the sportswear design field, Portland is well worth the move. It is quickly becoming the sportswear capital of the U.S., which makes it an invaluable opportunity for aspiring designers
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