4 Fashion Design Portfolio Tips

Fashion design portfolios are used as commercial business samples by designers looking for manufacturers and buyers, establishing a line of products and marketing them directly. We have a few tips for aspiring fashion designers to help them develop their businesses and create top quality portfolios.

1. Issues in creation of fashion design portfolios

There are no gray areas in the requirements for a successful fashion portfolio.  Fashion is a trillion dollar a year industry. To succeed, professional designers need to be experts, and to know the industry's needs and preferences very well.

These are all primary requirements:

  • The aesthetic component: Fashion is always a current, ongoing, thing, and design considerations are highly mobile in terms of style. Contemporary styles and aesthetic values change rapidly, and you need to be very much up to date with your portfolio content.
  • The commercial element: In this sector, every garment, shoe, and fashion look is costed, literally two cents per unit. Commercial costs and values are the drivers of the mainstream fashion industry. You must have your costs clearly defined, and understand clearly the importance of these factors in a buyer or manufacturer's choice of commercial products. If you're marketing your own designs, and paying for the manufacturing, you must cost your products very accurately.
  • The technical aspect: Technical requirements relate to production issues. Production costs and sales margins are extremely important in all areas of fashion. Your designs, textiles, materials and piece work require exact information for production purposes. A garment manufacturer will need to see clear specifications and material identification.

2. Types of portfolio

There are several types of fashion design portfolio. You may find your portfolio becomes several sub-portfolios like these:

  • Seasonal: These are the Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter collections types of portfolios. 

  • Mainstream: This includes all forms of casual wear, the basic street clothes demographic.

  • Business: Men's and women's suits, shirts, the "executive fashion" ranges.

  • Teens: The youth culture streetwear, often including many extra design elements and cultural values.

  • Children's fashions: The most profitable of all fashion ranges, and the most demanding.

3. Marketing tips

Each type of portfolio requires marketing to buyers and manufacturers. To market your portfolio effectively, you need:

  • Strong design content: High impact designs have the "dazzle" effect. They're technically and visually impressive.
  • Current year's fashion standards: The current market is the focus of all commercial considerations by clients. Be conscious of the current market, and be clearly up to the standards of the day.
  • Specifications: Good information for clients regarding all aspects of each design, clearly laid out, including types of material,
  • A market pitch: This is "market identification", meaning explaining to which market the fashions are directed. (This is particularly important with new products by new designers.) Successful portfolios are good matches with client markets.

4. Presentation

Critically important is how you present your portfolio. There are several ways of doing this very effectively:

  • Online presentations: You can literally have your own fashion show online. It's a cheap, high visibility method, easy to access for your market.
  • Hard copy portfolios and samples: These can be extremely effective. This is the old style of fashion presentation, but actually seeing the products is often an excellent selling point.
  • A mini-fashion show for the client: This is a simple, effective method which shows off the fashions in the preferred environment.