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Your guide to creating a great portfolio

Fashion retail graduates: Your guide to creating a great portfolio...

A strong portfolio is the key to getting ahead in the fashion industry and getting it right is a skill all of its own. Fortunately there are some hints that you can take on board in order to help your portfolio make you as appealing as possible to potential employers.

Think quality, not quantity

It is better to include fewer, good quality pieces in your portfolio than lots of different projects. Select the pieces you’ve worked on that you’re most proud of and which are appropriate to the job for which you’re applying. Don’t be tempted to bulk up your portfolio with a lot of fluff, your interviewer will see through it!

Do your research

Give yourself the best possible chance with your potential employer by getting to know the company prior to interview. Make sure you get to one of the stores of the company to which you’re applying, in order to physically see the product. The key is to have your portfolio spot on and relevant to the brand/supplier/retailer you are interviewing with. For example, if you are interviewing at a dress supplier to New Look, your handwriting/portfolio needs to reflect their unique style and ethos. It’s vitally important to tailor your application, as generic CVs and portfolios won’t cut it.

Show full projects

Your portfolio should include examples of your project development from initial concept right through to the finished piece. Employers will want to see not only your work, but how well you’ve interpreted the brief or project you were given. Where possible, include trend boards, colour pallets, designs and spec sheets.

Keep it tidy!

The contents of your portfolio should be clear and well presented. It should contain detailed flat drawings, but not fine art such as life drawings with the exception of your research or any actual garments. In terms of page construction, try not to use busy, distracting backgrounds and try not to leave any blank pages.  

Don’t forget the basics

Whilst paying close attention to the contents, don’t forget the portfolio itself, which should be neat, clean and professional-looking.

Size-wise, A3 or A4 is best. Anything larger than this will be hard to transport, there is more chance of it getting knocked or scuffed. It’s also awkward for your interviewer to handle and view properly.

Presenting your work

When it comes to talking through your portfolio, be confident in your work and be prepared to talk about any of your projects if or when you’re asked to.  However, have in mind a shortlist of your strongest projects that you can confidently talk about if time is short for any reason.

Whatever you do, don’t play down your work. It’s easy, especially for less experienced designers, to start a presentation with “this is only…” if you’re nervous but when you’ve spent weeks on a piece of work, you should be proud of it and present it in the best possible light.