What makes the perfect design portfolio?
As a successful fashion designer, your portfolio is your shop window and there are a few important considerations to keep in mind when collating your work to ensure it meets the expectations of the market whether you specialize in luxury, contemporary or high street fashion.
The fashion industry is a highly competitive space, no more so than in design. Your CV and your portfolio have to work as a double act. One without the other won’t cut it. At all experience levels, a winning portfolio needs to be up to date, well-presented and comprehensive to achieve maximum impact.
Take a look at our Portfolio Heaven guide below to ensure your portfolio ticks all the boxes.
WHERE TO BEGIN
As a designer your portfolio is an essential tool in your armoury. You can work smart by collating your work throughout the season or by dedicating a weekend, so that you don’t have a mountain to climb when you are looking to move on.
Presentation is important and worth investing in. It demonstrates that you take pride in your work. Ditch the old uni portfolio if it’s seen better days and avoid the use of stationary folders, instead invest in a professional portfolio. Prat portfolios are affordable and very popular and easily available from a wide variety of online sources including London Graphics http://www.londongraphics.co.uk/. Pina Zangaro is another great choice http://www.portfoliosplus.co.uk/ very slick and more of a long term investment, they’re also fun as you can choose from a wide choice of covers and depths.
Whichever your preference, make sure you opt for the glass clear polyester sleeves to off-set your work to the max as there is no grain or colour distortion from the plastic. If your existing sleeves are looking tired, replace them.
Here’s a myth killer… your work does not need to be confined to one book! And no, no-one will be bored looking through your work. If your career is established and your visual history is relevant, it is absolutely fine to take along several books. We often recruit for luxury brands and the designers in this sector come and see us with their spinners and a book per job!
It needs to be chronological, start with your most recent work and go backwards. Each season and trend should start with a mood board and fabric & colour palette followed by your designs in either CAD or Illustration format depending on how you work, supported by flat drawings and enhanced with fabric swatches.
MOOD, FABRIC, COLOUR, DRAWINGS, IMAGES
• Mood boards, fabric and colour palettes can be a one-page or two-page affair, keep it honed and to the point. It is really important to show key inspiration, colour and texture as this shows off your eye for what’s relevant. Write the season against each page for easy viewing and include relevant text on your mood boards to highlight the theme. This demonstrates attention to detail and connects seasonal key information in the mind of the viewer!
• Feel free to include any look book or editorial images to support your design work keeping in mind it’s your actual drawings, whether hand sketched or created by CAD, that people want to see and which enable you to be competitive. Aim to show a comprehensive representation from the most recent two seasons (spring/summer and fall/winter), including any best sellers and any work that was on target, but maybe didn’t get selected. For previous seasons, pull together your best bits along with any past best sellers, (sketches supported by look book or editorial images).
• Add fabric swatches and trims where appropriate, so that your book isn’t totally flat. A swatch next to a design brings it to life! For knitwear, include yarn or swatches and for print include any strike-offs.
• Avoid fancy paper and overly complicated presentation styles. Keep it simple!
• No need to add your CV to your portfolio, you can have a loose copy to hand.
• Do add a couple of technical sheets to demonstrate your awareness of garment construction and skill in designing a commercially viable garment.
If you have been collecting ideas in sketch books, people always love to look through random inspiration, fabric/print/texture ideas and doodles which shows your ability to think on your feet and capture a vision. This is a powerful tool!