Whether you’re applying to fashion school, hoping to make it onto the next season of Project Runway, or are self-taught designer hoping to take your sewing and/or designing to the next level, you will need a fashion portfolio.
Photo via Craftsy instructor Sandra Betzina
Here are 5 tips for creating your fashion portfolio:
1. First and foremost, do your research.
If you'll be using your portfolio for a specific purpose (like applying to fashion school), make sure you understand the portfolio requirements. These will vary by program, and it truly won't matter how awesome your work is if it isn't what they want to see. Follow the requirements exactly! If you are showing your portfolio in person, feel free to bring additional examples (just know that they might not get looked at).
2. Then, find something to hold your portfolio.
This can be a three-ring or presentation binder. You can spend a great deal of money on a gorgeous, custom presentation binder, but that’s not necessary (or a good use of funds) for someone just starting out. However, presentation does matter, so try to find something that makes a good first impression.
Another option is to digitally package your portfolio on a CD or on a personal Web site. A Web site is a good option because it’s easy to keep up-to-date with your latest designs. Even if you have no coding or Web design skills, you can create a professional looking site. Look for a service that offers easily customized designs and a drag-and-drop editor, such as Squarespace.
You might also want to look into Web sites like Pinterest and Polyvore. Pinterest is a great way to organize your work (and get it seen by lots of people), and Polyvore is useful tool for styling looks.
Better yet, have both physical and digital versions of your portfolio.
Polyvore offers great ideas for styling
3. Next, you’ll need good quality photographs of your finished garments.
Again, this is an area where you can spend a lot of money hiring models and a professional photographer to showcase your creations, but it’s not necessary for new designers. Think outside the box and enlist friends to help you out by modeling, photographing or styling your looks.
Another option is to barter services with someone. Perhaps there’s a photographer also looking to build their portfolio, who would be happy to shoot your looks, or a model willing to accept a custom-made dress as payment. You could even shoot the photographs yourself (Craftsy has a great selection of photography classes if you need to pick up a few pointers). Either way, the photographs should highlight the construction and detail of your garments.
If you've used couture techniques in your garment, for example, highlight those specific details to showcase your mastery of the technique.
4. Once you have photos in hand, edit the number of garments you will include in your portfolio.
Less is more! Five amazing garments will have a bigger impact on their own than when they are mixed in with five not-so-great garments. A good number to shoot for in your portfolio is 25 to 30 looks, but no one will expect a young designer to have quite so many. Don’t forget to also include your original design sketches and fabric swatches.
5. Finally, put everything in order.
Start off with your strongest look, and save the second-strongest for last. This makes your best work more memorable than by sticking them in the middle or leading with all of your best work. Try to create a flow and story throughout the portfolio as much as possible.
Even if you’re content just being a home sewist, don’t discount keeping track of your designs and showing off your work. It’s so important to document your life and the things that are important to you. Your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be fascinated by evidence of your hobby years from now, so keep your fabric swatches, pattern notes and photographs of your designs for posterity’s sake! And don’t forget that you can add your designs to Craftsy and share with the community in the Projects section.