How to Create Fashion Portfolio in 10 steps.

How to create a fashion portfolio to showcase your creative ideas and your style.

As an aspiring fashion designer you will need to create a fashion portfolio to showcase your creative ideas, your style and esthetics. 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 nice sketches. These 10 steps could help you move at least 10 steps ahead of the competition!

1. Look around
It is easy to create clothes, it’s hard to make clothes that are current and the modern person would like to wear them.
Usually the trends analysis are expensive, but if you can’t afford them there is plenty of free information on the internet- take your time to look around.

2. Find an inspiration
Now that you’re familiar with the silhouettes, fabrics and colors that will be wanted it’s time to find a source of inspiration. This could be anything from a quote you like to an entire Era like Baroque, Renaissance or Art Deco. Could be a movie or a book that made you feel special or an abstract theme such as “Freedom”, “Autumn Shades” “The Secret Door”.
The mark here is to pick a topic that really moves you and provokes pictures in your mind. Something that talks about YOU as a designer and describes the way you see the world and the new fashion.

3. Research

3.1 Find everything you can on your topic. If your inspiration was Merilyn Monroe for instance – read her biography, collect all the pictures you can find, watch her movies, find articles on her, interview people who knew her…. Dig everything about her personality.
Learn what kind of people like the message it holds. What is it that makes it attractive to them? What’s their attitude, their habits, their story?
If you were inspired by Jazz music you would like to talk to a jazz musician or go to a place that plays jazz music and just feel it! Ask politely these people why they dress like they do, what do they express with their clothing? Get to know the world of your inspiration.

3.2 Think about who’s your customer.
Who for you will be designing? Working women from 25-40 or young women who live to have fun form 18 to 30? Think about the lifestyle of your customer – does she have the finances to buy expensive clothes, is the comfort important to her, does she like to be noticed or not?

Tip: Don’t mistake your customer with your Inspiration. You might be inspired by Japan and make all the western women dress in clothes inspired by the East. Hip-hop inspired gown, a swimsuit inspired by Eskimos…..why not?

3.3. Visit a fabrics store and look around. Search for fabrics that remind you of your inspiration and get some samples. Try to think only about your theme and avoid ending up with a senseless ton of samples. Remember your customer and the colors/fabrics trends that you’ve researches.
You don’t want to make a collection out of something that was modern 2 seasons ago!

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 you’re about to present in your portfolio. After all the research you’ve done you could probably write a small book on your topic, but very few people would have the time to read it. The key word here is EDIT.
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. All in about 1 sheet of paper or so.

5. Moodboard
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.

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.

7. Flats
At this point you should feel very inspired already. So much time in preparation and now finally you can think about the design. Many designers prefer to start off with the flats, since it’s easier and faster to design and mix-match details on lineart drawing than on a full-color illustration.
If you’re making a collection of 12 outfits you should have done at least 50 sketches and selected the best 12 out of them. I know it sounds like a lot, but once you start doing it you won’t be able to hold back your ideas. This is thanks to all the initial preparation that you’ve done that is now giving you directions, ideas and keeps you inspired.
Don’t forget to look at your fabrics list and write down which fabric you’re using.


8. Illustrations
As 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, draw different view angles and use new art techniques. 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 little things you would before a runway – accessories, the right makeup, shoes and attitude of the model are crucial.

9. Photos
Photos are optional supplement to the portfolio, but they are always a big plus. By having them you will show the jury or employer that you not only have the ideas, but also the skills to bring to life your designs. If you have produced the clothes it is very important to make professional looking photos. If you know a photographer- ask him to help you or hire one.
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 hand make the whole thing. Be careful – if you decide to and make it on your own you need to be very precise and skilled – the final product must look polished and well-made, not amateur.
If your theme allows it you can incorporate details from it into the cover –the font, the texture, the size and shape of the portfolio.
Many aspiring designers make the mistake to overdesign their layout and cover. It’s awesome that you’re that creative, but remember that good taste is what the viewer is seeking for. Less is more!

Love, ♥ Teya

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NOTE: If you want to learn more about the coloring media I use for my illustrations, please click on this link: My Fashion Sketches Coloring Technique

Learn How to create a fashion illustrations with Teya @

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