Unless you’re Coco Chanel, you’ll need to prove your skills for people to take you seriously as a fashion designer. 

Whether you want to start your own fashion business, audition for a runway show, or get a job as a freelancer, you won’t get far without a portfolio. 

This guide will show you how to create a fashion portfolio that leaves an impression. We’ll cover:

  • The types of fashion portfolios
  • How to create a killer fashion portfolio
  • Quick tips to help you find success

The types of fashion portfolios

Fashion portfolios come in two categories, so it’s important to not mix them up. 

Personal portfolio 

This type of portfolio showcases your entire experience as a fashion designer and features every collection you’re proud of. 

The purpose of a personal portfolio is to show off the pieces you’ve created during your time as a designer and demonstrate the skills you have perfected.

Specific portfolio

This type of portfolio is one you prepare when applying for a specific role. For example, if you’re a freelance fashion designer applying for a role on a project. 

A specific portfolio is tailored to the particular position or task and only shows off your best collections that relate to that job.

How to create a killer fashion portfolio

All fashion portfolios are different, as they should be. The whole point of a portfolio is to show off your ideas, vision and creativity. So express yourself and your individuality! 

Just remember to think about your potential clients as well. Companies that hire you will need to know that your designs can be produced and sold. So keep that in mind when you build your fashion portfolio. 

Every type of portfolio needs should include:

  • A brief introduction about your business.
  • Concept mood boards.
  • Your best designs.

These are just the basics, though. Follow the steps below to create a portfolio that works for your business and goals. 

Choose your market

The first thing you need to do is decide who you want to impress with your fashion portfolio. 

Decide which market you want to succeed in and make a list of companies and other potential clients that fit into that category.

Take some time to research the companies you wrote down on your list. Find out things like:

  • Their design philosophy.
  • Their target audience.
  • Where they draw inspiration from.
  • What their current collection looks like.
  • How they showcase their designs. 

Use what you find in your research as inspiration when putting together your fashion portfolio.

Find a good binder and website builder

These days, you’ll need a paper-based and digital version of your fashion portfolio. 

Binder

This doesn’t have to be fancy as long as it looks professional. So have a look online and in shops to see what you find. Whatever type you choose, make sure it has the flexibility to add, remove and reorder the pages.

For example, one of these designs on Amazon.

Digital

Every business needs a professional website, so why not make your fashion portfolio a part of yours?

If you don’t have a website, create one because it’s important to give prospects the option to view your designs online. 

You can create a nice-looking online portfolio without any coding or graphic design skills. Simply use a template-based tool like Wix, WordPress or Squarespace to build your fashion portfolio website from scratch. 

Another option is to create your own page on a group site like Pinterest.

Showcase your designs

Once you have your binder and digital portfolio platform, it’s time to add your designs. To demonstrate your skills, you want to include elements like:

  • Hand-drawn silhouettes.
  • Designs styled with other garments.
  • Images that bring the look together.
  • Technical drawings (mainly for fast-fashion brands).

Remember to consider your target client when choosing your designs. For example, high-end luxury brands will expect sketched silhouettes of your final designs. 

In contrast, fast-fashion brands will want to see your designs created with a digital design tool like Illustrator or InDesign. 

Design your portfolio

There’s nothing worse than a bland fashion portfolio. You’re a designer, so use those skills to make your portfolio stand out!

You want your portfolio to surprise and delight the person who looks at it. So make your designs pop and style your portfolio to show them who you are. 

Tip: If you’ve already established a brand and have your brand colours chosen, use these design elements in your portfolio as well. 

To learn more about branding, see:

Get some good photos

There’s no need to spend massive amounts on hiring models and a professional fashion photographer to chronicle your work. 

Instead, you’ll want to get resourceful and ask people you know to help. Alternatively, you could try to connect with a photographer and model also looking to build a portfolio for their careers. 

You could even shoot the work yourself!

The important thing is to make sure your photos are high-quality and highlight the construction and detail of your designs

Quick tips to help you find success

Now that you know how to create a fashion portfolio, here are some things you can do to give it that extra sparkle:

  • Always include your recent work – Clients want to know what you can do now, so only show your experience from the past two years. Remove anything older unless it’s really relevant.
  • Include extra texture – Adding colour palettes and fabrics to your collections is an excellent way to demonstrate how your final designs will look. 
  • Quality over quantity – A great fashion portfolio typically contains 25-30 looks, but the key is only to include designs that you’re proud of. Remember, five or ten striking collections have a much higher impact than 25 bland ones.

By following these guidelines, you’ll know how to create a fashion portfolio that will get your talents noticed and expand your client base.

When you get hired, and money starts rolling in, you’ll need a way to manage your income. 

Countingup is a combined business account and accounting app that automates time-consuming accounting tasks to save you hours of admin. You can use that time to grow your fashion business instead!

Get started for free.

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