Fashion Portfolio Step 3: Get Clarity of Concept

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Step Three To Creating A Killer Fashion Portfolio

As a fashion industry veteran I have seen a lot of fashion portfolios over the years; both good and bad. One of the main things that separate a good portfolio from a bad one is the focus of the concept or lack thereof. You HAVE to show a concise focused point of view! If your ideas are not clearly conveyed to your audience you will appear scattered and unsure of yourself.

This is the third installment of a ten-part fashion portfolio series. If you are following along you should have now reviewed your body of work, and have done market research for inspiration. Today I am going to show you how to take all of your concept ideas and inspiration and come up with a clear focused point of view for your fashion portfolio project or collection.

Now you are ready to get down to work and really start designing your portfolio collection. You probably have a lot of ideas. You are hopefully super inspired, and you are starting to get a vision in your mind of what this collection will look like. Before you move on though you need to start making a few decisions.

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.

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Join The Fashion Portfolio Challenge on Facebook!

This month I have taken on a personal challenge to re-design my own fashion portfolio and have journaled the 10 step process I used. I will be going through my personal design process of creating a killer 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 Pick Glass Fashionable Careers Facebook group. Here you can post examples of your own work and get feedback from the group!

Finding Focus On Your Ideas

I have found in my personal experience that it is easier and faster to complete a project like this when you break down the steps that are needed to complete it. Ask yourself the following questions:

1. What is your color palette going to be? 

You don’t have to have the exact color standards decided just yet. But you should have a general idea of the colors that you think will be important in your collection. Look through your tear sheets and see what colors have emerged as important trend colors.

Remember that colors selected need to be appropriate for your market. A bright green color may be a hot trend right now, but it may not be the right shade for your customer base. Or maybe that color should only be injected in a small way.

Create your color palette using color standard. The most popular resource in the fashion industry is Pantone. However, you can use yarns skeins, fabric swatches, or almost any solid material. Below is an example of how WGSN put together a color palette using different materials. Note that no matter what materials you use for your color palette, in the end, you will need to match those materials to a color standard such as Pantone.

color palette

A sample of color palette by

2. How many pages is your collection going to be? 

In general, the answer to this question is, however many pages it takes to show your full concept. However, keep in mind the person viewing your portfolio doesn’t have all day. They need to be able to get the full picture of your abilities and your design aesthetic in a short amount of time. Also, try to be consistent with your groupings in your book. If you have six pages for one group, try to do the same for all groups.

I have a friend living in London and she recently explained to me the difference between the American fashion portfolio and European. In America, we are very “final product driven”. We want to see the finished product and then how you got to it. Today people have short attention spans. We want to see all the details as a completed thought product. Whereas in Europe they are very much interested in seeing HOW you think. They want to see how you came up with your ideas and how you went from point A to point B all the way to Z. It’s just a different way of thinking. Just something to keep in mind as you work through this process.

3. How many different outfits or items are you going to need?

If the portfolio you are working on is a collection base project where you need to have tops, bottoms, over pieces, etc. it is not necessary to design a huge amount of items. In fact, I would dare say the fewer the better. As long as the group shows a complete look and gets your concept across that is all that matters.

If you are working on a category driven project like I am, then you need to decide what is going to drive your collection. You can tell a story by styling details that all coordinate together. You can design a grouping based on fabrication or yarns. Based on this information figure out how many pieces you need to show a complete idea.

4. What are the top trends that you have researched that you want to get across in this collection?

In order to keep my work looking fresh and on-trend, I always want to make sure I am hitting at least one trend in each collection. I say one trend because most likely you are only doing 4-6 pages of a collection. Two of which will be color, mood, and concept. That doesn’t leave room for hitting every single fashion trend that’s out there. The trend you choose can be silhouette drive, detail-driven, fabric, or even pattern driven.

Fashion Portfolio Challenge

As promised I am re-working my own personal fashion portfolio and journaling my process.

I recently took a trip to France to watch the 2016 Euro Championships. (I am a huge soccer fan!) So sports and performance have been on my mind. I already had a pretty hefty activewear portfolio. As I mentioned in my last post, I wanted to focus on creating a sweater portfolio. But it is funny how your mind works. Most of the images and tear sheets I have pulled have all had this kind of performance spirit to them. Another thing I realized is that currently all of the sweater groups I have in my portfolio have been for fall collections. I don’t have any for spring or in light weights. So, I think this is good. This is an opportunity for me to do a spring/ summer collection with an activewear theme.

My idea is to combine the activewear and sports shapes into a performance sweater group. This means I will need to look for performance yarns and stitches that will give a fresh look towards knitwear. I have also pulled a lot of images with mesh or perforated fabrics. This will allow me to inject this trend with the use of stitches and fine gauge yarns. As for color, I am feeling strongly for tennis white and light grey with bold active colors like blue and aqua.

All of my portfolio pages have been six. So, I am going to stick with that number of pages. For my silhouette ideas, I was inspired by tennis looks. So, I am probably going to do a couple polos and a couple pullover ideas.

Note you don’t have to have all of your ideas set in stone at this point. But it is really helpful to get super clear on what you need to do going forward to complete your project. I will see you in a couple of days!

portfolio stitch board

Action Steps

  1. Put together a rough color palette
  2. Think about how you many pages you want your portfolio to be.
  3. Think about what top trend you want to cove in your collection.


Fashion Portfolio Blog Series

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If you, or someone you know, want 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.

  1. How To Create A Killer Fashion Portfolio
  2. Fashion Portfolio – Step 1 – Review Your Current Body of Work
  3. Fashion Portfolio – Step 2 – Find Inspiration
  4. Fashion Portfolio – Step 3 – Get Clarity of Concept
  5. Fashion Portfolio – Step 4 – Create A Mood Board
  6. Fashion Portfolio – Step 5 – Create A Color Palette
  7. Fashion Portfolio – Step 6 – Create Your Concept Board
  8. Fashion Portfolio – Step 7 – Sketch Out Your Ideas
  9. Fashion Portfolio – Step 8 – Find Your Fabrics
  10. Fashion Portfolio – Step 9 – Add flat sketches
  11. Fashion Portfolio – Step 10 – Fashion illustrations
  12. Interview With Karen Avila – Freelance Fashion Designer & Illustrator


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Fashion design portfolio, fashion portfolio, fashion portfolio tips, fashion careers fashion design careers, fashion career advice, fashion industry, fashion portfolio blog series,