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Africa moodboard

Fashion Portfolio in 10 steps

As a fashion designer looking for a job you will be expected to show your fashion portfolio. In it you will showcase your creative ideas, your style and aesthetics. A well-made portfolio might be the key to your dream job/school  so be very careful with it – it’s much more than just a bunch of nice sketches. Read carefully!


1. Be current!

It is easy to design clothes. It’s hard to make clothes that are current and the modern person would like to wear them. As a designer you should be informed about the new trends in fabrics, silhouettes, patterns and colors for the next season.
Google is your friend but in case you’re lazy this is a place to start: click here.

2. Be yourself!

pirate-lady-dress-costume-20803Now that you’re informed how the fashion is developing it’s time to find your own voice. Your own interpretation of these trends.
Let’s say that next year the trend will be anything to do with pirates.

Sally will get inspired by their fun music to make her collection.
John will be inspired by the ships that they use and will make a completely different collection.
Tammy will get inspired by  the eye covers and make collection different from the 2 above.


3. Research is your friend

images (1)3.1  Find everything you can on your topic.
Read, read, read! It always shows in your work if you are familiar with the theme or you just have used the general knowledge you already had on the topic. In the second case it is most likely to make predictable and boring designs. Do you really want this?

3.2  Think about who’s your customer.
Who will be wearing these clothes? Think about your customer ‘s age, occupation, finances, interests, family status. The better you imagine your customer the more likely you are to sell your work to them.

Tip: Don’t mistake your customer with your Inspiration! If you are inspired by Japan you can still create a collection for business ladies that doesn’t look like costumes. 

Visit the fabrics supplier store. Search for fabrics that remind you of your inspiration and get some samples. Try to focus on your theme and avoid ending up with a ton of samples. Don’t forget  your customer and the trends that you’ve researched.

4. Write it down

Write down everything you’ve reached to so far. The text should be a short resume of your idea and intention for the collection. A man should be able to read it in 2-4 minutes and really get what type of collection you’re about to present.
Very brief description of what inspired you and why. Mention who you customer is, what season you’re designing for, the materials that you’re about to use, the details that will be incorporated. A little bit about the colors and silhouettes.


This is the next thing that one would expect to find in your portfolio. After they’ve read the resume of the project they would want to see HOW EXACTLY. Collect and collage the reference pictures that you think best represent your vision. You might want to incorporate color and textile samples, even some hand drawn parts. Step away and make sure the final moodboard really shows the thoughts in your head and the way you see the portfolio theme.

Africa moodboard
Can you imagine a collection based on this moodboard?


6. Fabrics

There should be fabrics and colors samples in your portfolio.
Select the 5-9 fabrics that you find best for your collection. Think about the comfort of your customer, whether this textile is easy to work with, if it goes well with the rest of the fabrics and if it’s appropriate for the season. Is this fabric going to allow you to create the volumes and effects you’re looking for?
Reserve a sheet of your portfolio for fabrics and colors samples and make sure it’s presented in a neat way. You don’t want glue all around or textiles that are falling apart at the edges. Do your best to make it look professional.

Design 5
Flat of the design + fabric sample


7. Flats

Flats are how most of the designers actually work. Model illustrations takes a lot of time and you focus on the wrong thing. You should be thinking only about the design at this poiny.
For a collection of 12 outfits you should have done at least 50 flat sketches and selected the best of them.

8. Illustrations

Design5As you see the actual fashion illustrations are one of the last things that you do when making a fashion portfolio. The illustrations should really catch the eye of the viewer. He should be looking with interests to see the next page. Use unexpected poses and figure compositions. Don’t be afraid to cut the figure in half or make even only a headshot. The illustrations come to represent WHO your woman is – to tell us about the mood of your clothes, to make us want to BE that women.
When drawing the illustrations think about all the accessories, makeup, shoes and attitude of the model.

9. Photos

Photos are optional supplement to the portfolio, but they are always a big plus. By having them you will show the viewers that you not only have the ideas but also the skills to make them happen. If you have sewn the clothes it is very important to make professional looking photos. If you know a photographer- ask him to help you or hire someone.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to take pictures of the designs in your room, with you/your best friend wearing them.
Don’t ever add photos to your portfolio that Vogue or Marie Claire wouldn’t be excited to publish!

10. Layout

This is the final step, but you should think of it from the very beginning. The cover of your portfolio, the quality of the materials you’ve used, the format and colors are the first thing people will see.
You can buy a beautiful file and just put all the pages in or you can make it by yourself.

Many aspiring designers make the mistake to overdesign their portfolio. It’s awesome that you’re that creative, but remember that good taste is what the viewer is seeking for. Less is more!


Check Also


For God’s sake be original!

It is okay to have artists and illustrators that you admire and to want to be as good as they are. But this does not equal to try to mimic their creative style. You will never be as good because you have not invented it – you have copied it.


  1. M a ça by profession nt a designr bt I hv good fashion sense n also alot of new ideas n designs n sketchs.. Tht I want 2 sell.. The designs are extremely antic and as per latest trends.. Ny 1 interested do mail..

  2. Hello,
    The size of the illustrations depends on the size of the portfolio. Usually A4 or A3 is the standard. If you have artwork that is bigger than your portfolio you can scan it and resize it.


  3. hi,please tell me what s the actual size of illistrarion for portfoilo??

  4. Waht do You Mean by flat? Is it means that we just draw or sketch a simpl

  5. Try searching for 2016 fashion trends; 2016 colors; 2016 trends forecast – you will find plenty of information
    Good luck :)

  6. It is an amazing article, but I have a question. In the first paragraph you say that we can be informed fron the Net. I try to find something but I never can find something interesting. What are the apropriate key words that will help me to find info?

    Thank you!

  7. aloha daria lol :lol:

  8. May I send the script of my portfolio to you so you can help ledit it before I publish it. Please send your e-mail.

  9. What an eye opener. Thank you.

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