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2023 FashioNXT's UpNXT Winner Feliciano: Uniting people and Empowering Individuals

Updated: Mar 16

About FashioNXT:

Based in Portland, Oregon, FashionXT, is celebrated for its avant-garde approach to showcasing emerging and established designers. Founded in 2013, FashionXT has become a prominent platform for fashion enthusiasts, designers, and industry professionals. With its focus on innovation, creativity, and inclusivity, FashionXT highlights diverse perspectives and cutting-edge trends within the fashion industry. The event attracts a global audience each year, featuring runway shows, exhibitions, and networking opportunities that foster collaboration and inspiration. By blending local and international talent, FashionXT contributes to Portland's reputation as a vibrant hub for fashion and design.

About UpNXT:

FashioNXT's UpNXT program is the leading and longest-running Emerging Designers Accelerator in the US, attracting designers from all over the US and Canada. It's an emerging designers competition where designers receive expert mentorship, participation in an exciting runway show, and a grand prize package for the winner. There are two participation tracks, Live Show Track, and Virtual Track, enabling designers to participate from anywhere in the world and benefit from all the mentorship and publicity of FashioNXT's extensive network. To learn more, visit

Feliciano Branding
Feliciano Branding

2023 FashioNXT's UpNxt Emerging Designer Winner is Jezeus Feliciano. Congratulations to Jezeus! Here, we share how he grew to learn and love fashion design.

Jezeus was born and raised in Portland, Oregon, where his love for design and fashion grew. He is dedicated to pushing fashion boundaries in Oregon and beyond. The runway looks he presented were infused with emotions, and he tells a story with each piece. Innovative and provocative, these unique pieces made the Feliciano brand stand out without sacrificing style or design, earning him the winning title of 2023's UpNXT Designer. His Collection is his "Love letter to Portland".

How he got started:

Jezeus started sewing at eight after expressing interest in it as a hobby. His mother gave him basic sewing instructions, and he kept learning from then on. He attended Cascadia Tech Academy for 2 years during high school, where his instructor, Kim Forbes, would expand his knowledge and work closely with his side.

As a young child, Jezeus discovered his love for design. With limited resources and hand-me-downs, Jesus felt more connected to his personal style when he could create his own looks, which sparked his designer to create.

A few teachers at Jezeus's middle school recognized his love for the craft and together bought him his first mannequin. While still living in Vancouver, one of these teachers recently opened the La Sorrentina Italian restaurant, which he visits reqularly and still expresses his gratitude for.

model wearing FELICIANO dress from 2023 Runway Collection
Feliciano dress from 2023 Runway Collection

Jezeus went on a journey to learn fashion design and determine what kind of designer he wanted to be. His first brand was named Villalba, a family surname that he later discovered he couldn't trademark.

Requiring a rebranding- the new Feliciano name was fresh start for him. A new identity. Feliciano is an adopted name from his father's side, derived from the Latin root "Felix," which means happiness, good fortune, good luck, rich in crops and fruit, and fertile.

group of models in Feliciano designs at FashioNXXT
Feliciano Collection 2023 FashioNXT

Not only is it what Jezeus strives for in life, but it's also what he hopes to bring to his future customers and employees- a rich and fertile life for them. He describes Feliciano as a fusion of streetwear featuring elegant and timeless components that incorporate traditional elements from his Hispanic roots.

male model wearing 2 Piece design from Feliciano 2023
2 Piece design from Feliciano 2023

 The WHY behind the brand:

The why behind Feliciano is to unite people with each other and themselves, empowering individuals to feel confident in their clothing. Future goals include giving back to communities that are significant to him and who ultimately fuel the identity of Feliciano. 

His Consumer:

Jezeus describes Feliciano's customers as those who live in urban locations and are interested in fashion and culture. They enjoy challenging the status quo and are daring enough to wear silhouettes and colors that catch an eye and flatter the shape of their figure. His audience also values quality and appreciates small artistic details. The age range he caters to is early 20s to late 30s.

Finding Materials:

Jezeus sources his materials mainly from the Mill End Store in Portland. It is the largest fabric warehouse in the area and provides a great resource of recycled textiles.

Jezeus on the runway at 2023 FashioNXT
Jezeus on the runway at 2023 FashioNXT

Learning Moments:

Fashion NXT was an essential ingredient in pursuing Feliciano's expansion. From submitting the application in August to designing every day for months on end to fitting the models and finalizing them the day of the show, Jezeus says there were definitely learning moments. At the last second, one piece couldn't be included in the opening look, and plans had to change. Jezeus initially intended to spray paint on the runway on his opening model; however, the concept had to be changed at the last second due to the show's capabilities.

Spray painted garment from Feliciano Collection
Spray painted garment from Feliciano Collection

That's when Zeus and his partner/director marched to a nearby craft store, took the dress, spray painted it 40 minutes before the show, and wrote his signature instead on the model's dress, planning to open the collection with this look. However, the idea was discarded at the last minute, but in the end, it worked out for Jezeus, as he was chosen as the competition winner! Sounds like a backstage scramble designers often deal with on the day of a big show!

"When you've cried too much, there comes a moment when all you can do is laugh."—Jezeus Feliciano.

2pc Feliciano Design on Female model 2023
Feliciano Design 2023

Plans for the Future! 

After the 2023 show, with the help of his newly found team, Jezeus decided that the inspiration for his following collection would be to explore his Latino roots, exploring the textile scene in the state his family is originally from, Oaxaca, México. He started exploring the Los Angeles garment district to learn more and foster connections in the fashion industry there, then flew to Oaxaca City. 

Artisan yarn spool in Mexico
Artisan yarn spool in Mexico

Oaxaca was an eye-opening experience for Feliciano: "The moment I got off the plane, I could see my mother's face in everyone around me. It felt familiar; it felt like home." -Jezeus Feliciano.

The itinerary included meetings with Artisans specializing in loom weaving, rebozo fabrics, silk and cotton growth, natural dyes, and custom handmade textiles. The process is a beautiful traditional practice that the indigenous people of Oaxaca work so hard to preserve. However, labor is intensive and timely, and the resources take time to maintain, which instills a greater appreciation for their tradition and skills.

Oaxaca Artisan weaiving
Oaxaca Artisan weaiving

"I want my clothes to showcase both of my cultures- the Hispanic one I was born into and the American one in which I was raised in Portland, Oregon." This fusion of culture and love for 2 truly artistic places will be the foundation of Feliciano's 2024 collection for Fashion NXT, Featuring 17 pieces to be released on the runway in October of this year.

weaving Loom
weaving Loom

The Feliciano brand plans to start selling directly to consumers while currently, he is making custom garments for multiple artists in the area. The brand's projection to launch a ready-to-wear collection will take place after 2024's Fashion NXT show for 2025.

Feliciano Designs 2023
Feliciano Designs 2023

So, how does UpNXT Work & How to Participate?

FashioNXT website header page
FashioNXT Header

Designers start with an audition. Selected finalists will be offered mentorships and participation in the fashion show competition.

There are two tracks; LIVE and Virtual. The Auditions and the Mentorship classes will be done online; the main difference is the presentation of the collection of the finalists:

Live: Finalist designers can show on a live runway show at FashioNXT Week in Portland.

Virtual: Finalist designers will show virtually, which offers the option for the designer not to have to travel to Portland to get FashioNXT benefits

Designer Qualifications:

  1. Ready to Wear or Couture Apparel Collection Designers

  2. Accessories Designers (Jewelry, Handbag, Shoes)Annual Revenue Below $20,000

  3. In the business for less than three years.

Audition Requirements:

View from about FashioNXT runway show 2023
FashioNXT Runway Show

The designer must attend an online audition via video conferencing to a panel of judges on a date in Summer 2024 (FashioNXT will communicate the exact date in Summer 2024 to those who turn in the application form). Space is limited, so you are advised to apply ASAP. In the online audition, the designer will show the judges five samples from past collections or work the designer has recently completed. Designers need to showcase the pieces on models and/or dress forms and be ready to answer questions about the pieces, their business, and other topics that the judges find relevant to qualify. The designer should be prepared for the pieces to be photographed and presented to the public view.

Note that the designer can show a new or complete collection later.

Finalists will be decided through a selection process that includes a panel of judges and may include an opinion of an audience.

For more information, visit

FashioNXT, placed #1 in the Forbes Magazine list of US Cities Fashion Weeks, recognized for its decade-long service to elevate fashion creatives, innovation, and sustainability.

Thanks for sharing your story Jezeus and Congratulations!

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