A strong portfolio is a key step to employment as a Fashion Designer. It is important to make your portfolio professional and concise but also of a high enough standard to give you the advantage in interviews.
Leading fashion consultancy Smith & Pye, specialise in the introduction of fashion companies to the world’s best fashion designers. Smith & Pye work with clients including; Louis Vuitton, Alexander McQueen, Mulberry, Burberry, Topshop, ASOS and Paul Smith.
Here are their top tips on creating a portfolio.
WHAT TO INCLUDE IN YOUR PORTFOLIO:
• Creative research work – remember your references should not just come from fashion, these should be broad, displaying your knowledge of other areas of society and culture.
• Development – it is important to show detailed development of a concept into a collection or piece of clothing. Your design work should be coherent and you must be able to explain and justify the concept.
• Drawing – Figures should be well drawn and neatly presented. It is better to use a template figure and repeat it than to include really bad illustrations.
• Informative Flat Drawings – it is an important skill for production in the fashion industry to develop a clear and concise flat drawing technique. A successful flat drawing is in correct proportion and displays the appropriate details for manufacture i.e. seams and fastenings.
• Appropriate work for the company interviewing – you should compile a portfolio of the work most appropriate to the company you are seeing. E.g. if you are interviewing with a tailoring company, make sure most of your folio is tailoring.
HOW TO DISPLAY YOUR PORTFOLIO:
• Work should be in reverse chronological order, i.e. the most recent work at the front.
• Volume of work – your portfolio should be edited and concise. This keeps the interest of the interviewer and shows respect for their time.
• Keep it Neat! – Your actual folio should be in good condition.
• Size – A3 or A4 size is always best! Any larger is unnecessary and proves awkward to look at, manage or carry
• Fill every page – by this we mean do not have any blank pages in your portfolio.
• Keep it up to date – When looking for a job bear in mind that your portfolio is not only a record of what you have done but more importantly an indication of where you want to go.
WHAT NOT TO INCLUDE IN YOUR PORTFOLIO:
• Fine Art – With the exception of your research work there should be no life drawing or still life drawings included.
• Don’t include actual garments – as a general rule of thumb, portfolios should be 2D work only.
• Busy backgrounds – remember to keep your background pages clear, don’t overlay designs on to patterned backgrounds. This is distracting and indicates a lack of confidence in your design work.
• No printed material – by this we mean don’t include CVs, certificates or press cuttings within your portfolio. If you have built up a selection of press cuttings bring these separately in a folder specially dedicated to this purpose.
Our main motivation is GOOD DESIGN. We want innovative designers who are creative but are also grounded and have a strong awareness of the direction that fashion is taking.
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to putting together a portfolio but this advice is based on what we look for and it seems to be the winning formula of those portfolios which are successful in interviews.
It is important for you to understand that your portfolio is a communication tool. It should be easy to read and you must be able to explain it - it should only include work that you are happy with and can defend.
Ultimately, an employer is looking for designers who are talented but also passionate about design and committed to a career as a designer.
Advice courtesy of Smith & Pye.
Visit Smith & Pye for more information on getting into Fashion Design.