WORDS Elizabeth Thi Nguyen  PHOTOGRAPHY Tom Lupton 

Gliding gowns down the annual FashioNXT runway, Sloane White showcased her 2018-19 winter collection: Frost. The collection features a bright and upbeat luster, with metallic sheen fabrics glistening against bright whites, and fur trims that bounce with a model’s walk. Garnished in the intricacies that are so representative of Sloane White Couture, the spirited struts and fly-away feathers made their contribution to the ecstatic collective experience. 

Director of Fringe PDX, Owner and Producer of Dress Library, and Designer of Sloane White Couture, her free time is bonded to her creative channels and their progression. With a work ethic like hers, our free-spirited fashion designer is not content with what she has accomplished – she manages her time in the pursuit of new accomplishments. 

Although not proclaiming the birthright, White is a true Portlander; ecologically aware, creatively clever, and straight up uncanny. She’s no stranger to sharing stories about what inspires her; professional ambitions from a combination of bright ideals, real-world realities, and the darker shadows of life.

I know you were born in Dallas, Texas… How did Portland become your home?
My family and I moved to Portland when I was five to escape the dark history of our family, including racism, sexism, homophobia, and abusive behaviors. My parents wanted to find a more open-minded setting to raise their child, and they believed there were more opportunities here for all three of us. 

In what other ways did your parents help shape and contribute to your creative timeline?
Well, my mom and dad, Angel and Michael, have been huge supporters since I was a young child. My mom is kind of like my manager; she helps take notes at my meetings and keep me organized. She’s also the person I go to for advice, time and time again. My father helps me plan events and keep me motivated. They have both always had my back, and I couldn’t ask for more. 

Where did you start out as an artist — how did we get to Sloane White, the designer?
In my childhood I studied dance and ballet for about 10 years, from the age of 6 to 16. I have always loved to draw, so I took up studying illustration and animated arts at the Pacific Northwest College of Art and graduated with my BFA. I loved stop motion because it still had that physicality and movement that I loved so much about dancing. A favorite part of the whole process was sewing tiny clothing for my armature puppets. After the first dress I hand stitched in April of 2015, I never made another animation. 

What is your process for sourcing materials for your designs?
I use nearly 100% found and reuse materials in my line. The only time I step away from that is for things like elastic that need to be purchased new due to the degradation of plastic over time. All my fabrics, beads, trims, notions, needles, embellishments and so on are all either given to me or sourced from thrift stores or reuse centers. A lot of things are given to me from the leftover projects of friends. I do this because it cuts costs of my already high-priced gowns, and because I think it makes a statement on my environmental mindfulness. There’s no need to source new materials when there is so much waste and excess already at our disposal in our everyday lives!

How do you feel about using fur, leather and other animal products in your designs? 
I love fur very much and always have. It isn’t beyond me that animal cruelty and raising animals for fur is inhumane, but like I said, everything I use is reuse, reclaimed, upcycled and quite often taken out of the trash from my job where I sew fur and leather bags for a living. I would rather the entire animal be used instead of thrown aside. I think that is a crucial part of my brand identity — I want people to know that none of my fur is sourced from the people who are doing the killing for profit.

What are your current creative roles and how are they influencing your craft?
I am the director of a fashion show and pop up that my group of friends and I are calling Fringe! It thrills me and gives my life meaning to create this kind of platform to represent models of all ages, abilities, shapes, sizes, gender identities, and races. Fringe not only highlights models who are often overlooked in our community, but it also highlights artists and local makers who are emerging, or on the outer edges of our community by bringing them in for this seriously avant-garde, edgy, and arty event!   

What is your biggest motivator to keep creating?
My desire to try my hardest and do my best comes from wanting to do things for myself and make my family proud. Right before my grandfather Larry died, he told me it was my duty to have children and pass on my family name… I like to think that instead of having offspring to appease the idea of passing on my name, I can have an impact on the world by adding beauty to it. I think that’s enough. 

What advice do you want to share with other creatives?
Follow where your heart takes you. If your heart leads you exploring new mediums, take a chance and give it a try! I would never have thought that animation would bring me into fashion design, but here I am as a result of my own curiosity.

In Order of Appearance

Dress: Silk Embroidered

Model: Sloane White


Model: Sloane White

Dress: Leather and Shearling. Laser Wire by elumiglow.

Model: Nicole Nance 

$250, $175 

Models: Sloane White, Jessica Faye. 

Dress & Cape: Upcycled Leather, Mink, Shearling and Fox Fur.
$150 $800

Model: Nicole Nance

Dress: Silk Embroidered

Makeup Artist: Angela Foster  

Crown By: Noelle Zimel  

Location: Gold Door

Model: Sloane White