Portland Apparel Development Center - manufacturing clothing in Oregon

by Anna Marie Cooper September 22, 2014 1 Comment

Being a designer in Portland is tough for a lot of reasons. We don't have the infrastructure that Los Angeles and New York enjoy, and local designers often bemoan the lack of resources to be found here. It's completely true. We have two or three decent but expensive fabric stores, and manufacturing is extremely limited. That's why I find it so surprising people aren't putting the resources that we do have to good use. The Portland Apparel Development Center is a perfect example. It is housed within the massive warehouse of RCT fabrics in the outskirts of the industrial northwest. Most designers that I have talked to are either completely unaware that it exists, or didn't really know what they have to offer.  That's why I thought it was time to share a little behind the scenes information. The PADC was honestly invaluable to me when I was making my first production run, and I still visit it frequently. If you are a designer that is wanting to start small production runs, and cut some costs I really couldn't recommend the PADC enough.

Here is what they have:

Tukatech Software - After being trained you can rent computer time for just $10 an hour. You can use it to digitize your patterns, correct them and grade them. It's worth using for the grading process alone. It saved me hours of time that I would have otherwise spent hand grading the pattern or paying someone else to do it. It also lets you make a marker which can be used for cutting out fabric for production. When I saw how easy it made that process I almost cried. I'm not the weepy type either. A lot of local manufacturers make the marker themselves by hand, so it's very time consuming and costly for you. This did it in seconds. 

Gerber cutting table - I want to marry this machine. For my first production run I didn't want to be restricted to making my sizing runs in sets of tens. I know from experience that I never sell as many larges as I do smalls and mediums, so I knew I wanted equal amounts of smalls and mediums with far fewer larges. This would have been nightmarishly expensive to have done in production cutting, but here it was easy. Once I was trained to use the table myself, I was able to cut my runs for way cheaper than anyone else could have. For example, my suspender shorts involve a lot of pieces (eleven pattern pieces per garment), but I was able to get 25 pairs cut out in about an hour and half for a cost of only $60 or so. When I told my manufacturer this she told me I had definitely saved myself a ton of money.

Industrial machines like crazy -They have a beautiful Juki coverstitch along with sergers and loads of other machines that you can come come in and use. They even have seamstresses on hand that can sew up samples for you if you don't feel like doing it yourself, and will even do tiny production runs for you. 

I know it is a bit unusual to share this sort of information, but I felt it was important for two reasons. First, I want to let me customers know that there clothes are coming from a place they can feel damn good about supporting. Secondly, I think that the only way Portland will become a more successful apparel industry is if we continue to share the information we know, and help each other succeed. So, if you are thinking about starting an apparel line in Portland, definitely go check these guys out. Tell Annette hello, and let her know I sent you. 


Anna Marie Cooper
Anna Marie Cooper


1 Response

Japelle Binns
Japelle Binns

September 23, 2015

OMG I’m in tears right now this was SO helpful I am very grateful that I came across your website. This has helped me in so many ways!!!! Thank you sooo much for sharing this valuable information!

Japelle Binns.

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