Create a Fashion Portfolio in 10 steps

As a fashion designer looking for a job, you will be expected to show your portfolio with designs. But do you know how to create a fashion portfolio and what people expect to see in it? How to make it look professional and what are the components of it? How to showcase your creative ideas, style, and aesthetics?
This article will show you what a fashion design portfolio should include and the steps to create it. A well-made portfolio might be the key to your dream job or school so be very careful with it – it’s much more than just a bunch of nice sketches. Read carefully!

The 10 steps to building a Fashion Portfolio

1. Always Be up to date

It is easy to design clothes. It’s hard to make clothes that are on-trend and the people would like to wear them in real life. As a designer, you should be well informed about the new trends in fabrics, silhouettes, patterns, and colors for the next season. Always do your research on future trends. Don’t design random clothing!
Google is your friend but in case you’re lazy, this is a place to start: click here.

2. Your Style & Interpretation


Now that you’re informed of how fashion is developing and what’s on-trend, it’s time to find your own creative voice. Your own interpretation of these trends!
Let’s say that next year the trend will be something to do with pirates.

Sally will get inspired by their fun music and create a collection based on it.
John will find inspiration in the ships that they use in the sea and will make a completely different collection.
Tammy will pull inspiration from the eye covers and design clothes that have nothing to do with the other 2 interpretations of the “Pirates” theme.

3. Research is your friend

images (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. In the second case, chances are you will end up with predictable and boring designs. Do you really want this?

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 define your customer the more likely it is they will buy what you created for them.

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 fabric swatches. Keep in mind your “ideal customer ” and the trends that you’ve researched and look for fabrics that link them.

4. Write it down

Write down a brief on everything you’ve reached 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.
A very brief description of what inspired you and why. Mention who your 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.

5. Create a Moodboard

This is something that people expect to find in the first pages of your portfolio. After they’ve read the short description they would want to see HOW EXACTLY you plan to put these ideas together. Collect and collage the reference pictures that you think best represent your vision. You might want to incorporate color and textile samples and even some hand-drawn parts (drawings or text). Back in the days, the moodboards used to be made of magazine scraps, but now we have useful tools like Adobe Sparks to helps us create digital collages with ease. Step back and make sure the final moodboard really shows the thoughts in your head and your interpretation of the topic.

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

6. Choose your Fabrics

There should be fabrics and color swatches 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 color 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. Design using Flats

Flats are how most of the designers actually work. You can read more about the difference between fashion sketches, illustrations, and flats here and more about flat in this article.

The design process starts with hundreds of design flats, not with the model drawing!

Model illustrations take a lot of time and you focus on the wrong thing. You should be thinking only about the design at this point, not about figure proportions, facial features, and styling. Just the design!

and you need to design a lot of clothes before choosing your best ones that are going to make it to the portfolio. For a collection of 12 outfits, you should have done at least 50-80 flat sketches. No place for compromises here. You need to select only the best designs and scrap the rest!

8. Illustrations


As you see the actual fashion illustrations are one of the last things that you do for your fashion portfolio. Beginners start with them and this is a mistake because it limits their ideas to what they already know and are used to doing.

The illustrations should really catch the eye of the viewer. They should be opening the next page with curiosity and interest! 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 woman.

When drawing the model illustrations think about all the accessories, makeup, shoes, and attitude of the model. Tell a story with your drawing

9. Photos

Photos are an optional addition to the portfolio, but they are always a big plus. By having photos of the completed garments you will show the viewers that you not only have the ideas but also the skills to execute them. Go for professional-looking photos, don’t just shoot with your phone camera and hope for good results. If you know a photographer- ask him to help you or hire someone who knows what they’re doing.

One of the common mistakes is to take pictures of the designs in your room, with you/your best friend wearing them. This simply screams amateur. Don’t do it! 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 portfolio file and just put all the pages in or you can get creative and make one by yourself. Usually, less is more, so opt-in for classic, stylish fonts and colors.

The designs are where your creativity shines, not the portfolio formatting!

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

These are the basic steps to create a fashion design portfolio. Professionals don’t skip steps and execute them with great attention to details. I hope the tips were helpful, now it’s time to show your talent and get started with your first fashion portfolio!



  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. 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!

  4. 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.

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