Updated: Oct 21, 2020
Whether you're a student or a job applicant everyone who hopes to be a professional designer must have a killer portfolio that can outshine the competition. But, there is a secret that not many people understand...Having beautiful designs, colors and fabrics are NOT the most important parts to making a great portfolio. Sorry to burst your bubble but in the real world you will only spend about 10% of your time (per year) creating new designs.
The majority of your time will be spent on tweaking your designs in order to get them production ready or making technical sketches and technical files. Therefore, your portfolio should reflect that you understand what it REALLY means to be a professional designer. You will need to highlight that you know how to create designs within a specific brand identity, that you can communicate your ideas clearly and professionally, and that you understand how a garment is put together down to the last technical detail.
Just like you need to start your day on the right foot with a healthy and hearty breakfast, you also NEED to start your portfolio on the right foot with RESEARCH. It's the foundation for your entire portfolio, so you need to give it serious thought. Your research will dictate the mood, general color combinations and theme of your entire collection within your portfolio. It's also a great way to focus all of your design ideas.
For fashion designers our gift of creation can also be our curse... Too much of it without a direction would lead to chaotic nonsense, and chaotic nonsense does not a professional portfolio make. Whenever you seem stuck or losing control of your collection try to refer back to your original research, and design within these parameters.
In the professional world we look at several different areas of the industry to gather our inspiration for our collections. Then we sometimes compile a booklet of our favorite finds and create a theme around it. For example, I added an image above which is from a trend booklet I created for an outerwear client I worked with in the past. It shows one of the main trends I had noticed from many different brands, and we had a very many military inspired pieces throughout our collection due to this research. Here are a few of the finalized designs:
There are so many other areas where you can search for trend and research inspirations. Here are some examples:
I think that Vogue.com has an amazing registry of all the latest and greatest runway collections, with professional insight on each season. They have a wealth of knowledge on their website and its is all free. Gotta love it!
Two words "Great Gatsby"...This movie really made waves throughout our culture. we saw dark lips, beautiful updo's, long flapper-esque dresses and even art deco interiors. So keep a look out for the next big trend that might be a hit.
Premiere Vision, Tex World, Salon de la lingerie are just to name a few.
Street bloggers are on the ground looking at how real people are wearing what designers have created. By seeing what people buy and how they wear it, you can create better outfits that are geared to sell quickly.
There is so much to gain when looking at what is trending in the art world. The colors, the movement, and the messages all contribute to our culture. What will you find to inspire your collections
Can the interior prints, fabrics and colors be translated into fashion? The answer is yes, if it is done well...so keep a sharp eye of any strong trends you might see, or simply look to interior design for general inspiration.