What You Need in Your Fashion Design Portfolio

MakersValley Blog: What You Need in Your Fashion Portfolio
Anna Spaugh

Anna Spaugh

You know how important a resume is when you apply for a job – well, think of a fashion design portfolio as an expressive resume. Your portfolio should reflect you and your abilities and aesthetic.

Creating a fashion portfolio can feel overwhelming when you’re a new designer, but it’s important to have as it does give you an advantage when job hunting and showcasing your skills as an up and coming designer.

What Goes Into a Fashion Design Portfolio?

watercolor painting

There are many things that go into your fashion portfolio, but what’s most important is to show off what you specialize in. Are you really good at designing womens, childrens, or men's wear? Dresses or active wear? You also want to highlight your skills. For example, can you draw really well? Do you know how to sew, drape, or make pattern designs?

Of course you can balance and show different skills and techniques you have in design and the business, but you want to make sure that your portfolio emphasizes the skills that best highlight your unique value as a candidate.

Side Note: If you are a new fashion designer applying for a fashion school, be sure to follow the schools requirements for what they want to see in your fashion portfolio, as there may be some things here that don’t apply to what you will be asked to include.

How to Structure Your Fashion Portfolio for Design School Admissions or an Apparel Brand Application

With that in mind, here are the things that you will need in your fashion portfolio:

    1. Cover page and End page - You will need to include a cover and end page for your portfolio. You want to design your cover and end page to be similar to the way an album or book looks. Provide your information, name, contact info., all in an artistic way.
    2. Layout - A good way to organize your designs is to put your best work first and then your second best last. That way you start with your best foot forward and end with a good lasting impression.
    3. Mood Boards - You will need to make a mood board for each series you include. Use these to show what inspires you and how you come up with your designs. This also demonstrates that you have done your research and know what you’re talking about.
    4. Fabric Swatches - Include fabric swatches of the types of fabrics your collections reference as well as the colors and patterns. Make sure that your fabric swatches are all uniform in size, with neat, unfrayed edges.
    5. Physical Elements - It’s okay to use physical trinkets on your portfolio’s mood boards. You can add physical items such as dried flowers, beads, yarn, or shells. This helps fill in the whole picture of your design inspiration, especially as it applies to textures.
    6. Designs - Of course, include the drawings of your design. You can include three to six different series. Whether you are best at designing in Adobe Illustrator or watercolor painting, include the medium that best reflects your design skill.
    7. Flats - Add the flats to your designs. This helps show that you understand how garments are constructed, that you have the technical skills of design, and that you understand the process of how designs are manufactured at a garment factory or artisan shop.
    8. Format and Size - Your format and size will depend on the overall theme and look you want for your portfolio. There are portfolio binders you can use, however you don’t have to limit yourself to this format. You can be creative with your format and size, as long as it makes sense for what’s inside your portfolio. For example, a foldable poster, a book, or loose pages in a box or folder.

Show How You Come Up With Your Fashion Designs

Print inspirations

When you’re putting together your fashion portfolio you want to show your thought process. This shows where you’re getting your inspiration, how you think and put things together, and that your designs are original and your own.

The fashion industry is competitive, so you want your portfolio to show off your skills and abilities to stand out among others. Include the work that you are most proud of in your portfolio, and don’t be afraid to switch and change things around until you find the right signature look for you.

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