Step One For Creating A Killer Fashion Portfolio
In my previous blog: How To Create A Killer Fashion Portfolio, I ran down the basics of what goes into a fashion portfolio. I also covered what types of portfolios there are. Today we are going to begin the ten step process for actually building that killer fashion portfolio. In this article I am going to cover the very first step which is to review your current body of work.
The reason this is the first step in the fashion portfolio review process is because you need to assess what examples of your work you already have. There is no need to start from scratch every single time! This process will allow you to build your portfolio quickly.
You may be thinking, “I don’t have any examples of my work.” I promise you, even if you are right out of school you have plenty of content to get started. I will show you how to review these items and how to begin.
We couldn’t cover every possible angle of how to create an amazing fashion design portfolio in just one post! This article is part of an EPIC 10 part Fashion Portfolio Blog Series. If you want to learn all the tricks to make YOUR fashion design portfolio stand out and get you hired you can check out the entire series at the bottom of this page.
Join The Fashion Portfolio Challenge on Facebook!
Being a fashion industry veteran I have seen a lot of fashion portfolios over the years; both good and bad. This month on the blog I will be going through my personal design process of creating a fashion design portfolio. I will share my thought process and every detail of my work from what tools I use to fabric selection. You can follow along with me here on the blog. You can also join the challenge by joining the Pick Glass Fashionable Careers Facebook group!
If you are ready to get to work and start to work on your own fashion portfolio I encourage you to join The Fashion Portfolio Challenge on our Facebook page. Here you can post examples of your work and get feedback from the group!
Where To Start
The very first thing you should do when building a new fashion portfolio is to decide what to work on. That sounds easy enough, but there are actually several questions you need to ask yourself before deciding what project you are going to take on.
1. Is There A Specific Job You Are Planning To Apply For Soon?
If there is a specific job you are planning to apply for then your portfolio needs to be tailored to that position. You may be applying for a position that is category based. An assistant denim designer perhaps. Or a men’s outerwear designer. In this case, your portfolio needs to be category driven. Not all in composing collection style. In this situation the hiring manager is only interested in hiring someone who has the knowledge in that particular category. Review your past work and see if your current body of work fits into this scenario.
Now, if you are applying for a more general position such as children’s wear associate designer, then you need to show a more well rounded collection of different types of pieces. You will need to show that you at least have some knowledge of tops and bottoms, knits and wovens, etc.
If you are not necessarily looking to leave your current position, and you just want to be prepared when you do, then you have the luxury of not being under a time crunch. Ideally, one would continually add to their portfolio as their career progresses.
Pro Tip: Each season that you work on a line you should be saving your work. This way, when an opportunity does presents itself you will have ample examples of your work to show. If this is you, you can move on to question #3.
2. Does Your Current Fashion Portfolio Speak To That Brand, Aesthetic, Or Product Category?
Your fashion portfolio needs to sing “I am the perfect candidate!” Review your current body of work and evaluate if your work demonstrates the right look for the new position or company you are aspiring to work for. If it doesn’t it’s time to create a project or collection that does. You can either start from scratch or rework things that you already have done. See question #5.
3. Do You Have At Least Three Projects That Have The Same Aesthetic, Or Product Classification?
When you go on an interview you usually need to show 3-5 completed projects or groupings in your fashion portfolio. It is important that you have multiple examples of your work to show that you have knowledge in that area. If you are a student or are just starting out then you may not be a master just yet. However, you need to demonstrate the knowledge you do have in that area, and any experience you have. The person reviewing your fashion portfolio needs to feel that you are bringing something to the table. You are bringing your experience, your skill set, your aesthetic, and your market knowledge in a particular area.
4. What Is Missing From Your Current Fashion Portfolio?
Once you have reviewed your current body of work, and picked out examples that best suite the position you are planning to interview for, it is time to fill in the blanks. Maybe you only have two projects that are applicable. You need to add a third.
Maybe you have lots of examples of one particular category. Let’s say woven shirts. But they are all very casual, and you need to show a dressier look. Then that is what you need to add to your fashion portfolio.
Pro Tip: One quick solution to adding more heft to your book is to add additional pieces. Pretend you are a buyer and you need to buy a complete outfit. For example, if you have too much of one category, such as woven shirts, add pants, and a couple sweaters and a jacket.
I do not recommend that you design a collection for one specific brand. Rather, design a collection or group that can be suitable for multiple, similar brands.
5. How can I improve upon what is already here?
Sometimes it is easier to take examples of your work from different seasons or different projects and re-work them to fit together to make an entirely new collection. You can do this by either re-coloring something or merchandise it with something else. You can also take fabrics or prints and put them into different silhouettes to give a different look. As mentioned earlier, you can also simply add additional pieces to the collection.
The Fashion Portfolio Challenge
As promised, this entire month I will be re-designing my own fashion portfolio. I am going to be as transparent as possible with all of you with the decisions I make, the process that I follow, and how I create the items in my portfolio. I welcome your feedback as we go through this journey together.
After reviewing my own body of work I have decided to concentrate on adding a new collection of sweaters. For those of you who do not know me I am currently a senior menswear designer specializing in cut & sew knits and sweaters. My current fashion portfolio has one completed category specific menswear sweater collection. It also includes two full collections that have sweaters sprinkled in as completer pieces. For this reason I feel strongly that I need at least one more category specific sweater collection to showcase my expertise and deep knowledge of sweaters.
For the purposes of this fashion portfolio challenge I cannot show you any work that I have created with my current employer that has not gone to market yet because this would be an infringement of corporate intellectual property. Therefore, I will be mostly creating from scratch, or re-working older pieces in a new way.
I hope that this challenge will inspire you to follow along and maybe work on your own fashion portfolio. I look forward to hearing from you. See you in a couple days!
- Review you current portfolio pages
- Ask yourself the above questions
- Pick one thing you want to add or improve upon for your portfolio.
Fashion Portfolio Blog Series
If you, or someone you know, wants to learn how to create a killer fashion design portfolio you can read the entire series here. Learn what it takes to build an amazing fashion portfolio that will get you noticed and get your foot in the door.
- How To Create A Killer Fashion Portfolio
- Fashion Portfolio – Step 1 – Review Your Current Body of Work
- Fashion Portfolio – Step 2 – Find Inspiration
- Fashion Portfolio – Step 3 – Get Clarity of Concept
- Fashion Portfolio – Step 4 – Create A Mood Board
- Fashion Portfolio – Step 5 – Create A Color Palette
- Fashion Portfolio – Step 6 – Create Your Concept Board
- Fashion Portfolio – Step 7 – Sketch Out Your Ideas
- Fashion Portfolio – Step 8 – Find Your Fabrics
- Fashion Portfolio – Step 9 – Add flat sketches
- Fashion Portfolio – Step 10 – Fashion illustration
- Interview With Karen Avila – Freelance Fashion Designer & Illustrator