A fashion portfolio is mandatory for success in the fashion industry. It doesn’t matter whether you are applying to fashion school, trying to get a job at a fashion firm of even making an attempt to get onto a fashion reality show. Without a portfolio to showcase your skills and talent, you aren’t going anywhere!
Just for clarification, we want to remind you that a portfolio is nothing more than a visual resume. It’s your way of showing to employers and others what you are capable of producing. However, piecing together a good portfolio requires a lot more than just throwing all your work together.
Fashion Portfolio Do’s
Here we are going to look at things you absolutely should (dare we say: MUST) do to ensure your fashion portfolio stands out from the crowd.
Keep It Updated
Your portfolio is a like you — it changes as time progresses. Likewise, your portfolio should be well maintained and up-to-date. Any time you produce outstanding work, take the time to add it (and add it properly) to your portfolio. Also, make sure your portfolio is set up in reverse chronological order. Your most recent works should be up front, while your works from the past should be pushed to the back.
Set Up A Digital Portfolio
In this day and age, it’s fundamental that you maintain both a traditional portfolio and a digital portfolio. Imagine that you are at a portfolio show, but some of the potential employers who stop by just don’t have the time to review your entire presentation at the moment. All you would have to do is hand them a business card that contains a link to your online portfolio.
Keep Your Portfolio Simple
Try to keep your portfolio as simple as possible, and limit the number of pages. If you have too much work that you want to share, consider creating a mini portfolio to supplement your main portfolio. Also make sure to rely on a fairly simple but eye-catching fashion portfolio cover. Take a look at the books on fashion that you own, do any of them have a flashy cover? Probably not!
Despite common belief, your portfolio should, in fact, contain sketch work. Sketching is a highly desired skill in the fashion industry. Your sketches can tell a lot about not only your creative process, but your problem-solving capabilities as well. Plus, sketch work can serve as a decent filler in case you’re relatively new to fashion and don’t have that many pieces to share with prospective employers.
Include Mood/Trend Boards
Make sure you include mood/trend boards that support the overall feel you are trying to create for your portfolio. Again, such additions help display how you think, how you collate research, and how you reach a final product. They also display your comprehension of such fashion basics like texture, colours, fabrics and trends. If you must choose between sketches and boards, go with boards!
Fashion Portfolio Don’ts
Here we are going to look at things that can ruin your portfolio.
There is no easier way to completely destroy the worth of your portfolio than by being sloppy. Your portfolio should be absolutely pristine in its presentation. It is meant to showcase your personality, your creativity and your professionalism, so it should be obvious why it would be a major turn-off if you turned in something that looked like a 12-year-old could have bundled together.
Too Much Content
Your portfolio should not be an archive of all your work. It should only contain the best of the best. Furthermore, it should focus on those areas of fashion in which you excel the most. The general consensus is that someone who acts like a jack-of-all-trades is usually a master of none. And when it comes to fashion, it is much better to be masterful at a few select things than to be just amateur at everything.
Avoid A Static Portfolio
A portfolio need not be static, and it is perfectly fine (and, in fact, recommended) if you adjust your portfolio for specific scenarios and job opportunities. If you are applying for a position within a fashion company that deals exclusively with menswear, for instance, then it would make perfect sense to remove all non-menswear pieces from your portfolio and replace them with better fitting examples of your work.
Don’t Overdo It
The most a fashion portfolio should contain is around twenty-five pieces, and that’s only if you have a decade or two of experience working as a fashion designer. If you are just starting out (such as if you just graduated college), then your portfolio should be limited to around ten pieces. Just remember that it’s not about the quantity of pieces you include, but rather the quality!
It’s very possible and likely that you will make mistakes your first or second time around. Whatever you do, don’t make excuses when confronted or criticized by an employer: be upfront and accept responsibility. Employers understand that you’re young and just starting out. With that said, it’s important to be humble and accepting of any and all criticism you receive, because arrogance will not get you very far.
Piecing Together A Great Fashion Portfolio
Piecing together a quality portfolio doesn’t have to be hard, so long as you work hard at what you do. Just be sure to use common sense. Also, take the time to ensure your portfolio is polished. It’s okay if you make a mistake your first time around, but truthfully it’s always better to take the time beforehand to be flawless in your execution. Believe us when we say that prospective employers will appreciate it!