How to create a fashion portfolio

Saving the unhireable fashion designer

HOW TO

Follow me on my journey where I attempt to save the world from the unhireable fashion designer. Read my entries from beginning to end on how to compile a beautiful and irresistible portfolio that will widen your client base and give you a great sense of satisfashion!          

 

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Steps to success

Posted on February 4, 2014 at 3:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Click on the Step which you are focusing on at the moment:

  • STEP 2- Control your drawing skills

Be very very quiet! We're Hunting for JOBS!

Posted on March 7, 2010 at 5:10 PM Comments comments (4)

GETTING HIRED IN FASHION- 101:

(I bet you wish this class existed at college)

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 1. Experience is Vital-

To gain a paying job in the future... You must first be willing to work for experience, which is more precious than money

  •  Search for Internships far & wide, high & low

  •  Talk with professors to see if they know of any opportunities

  •  Your college might have an internship department that can help you

  •  Ask friends who already have internships, if they can use more help

  • International internships- If you have the financial means I highly recommend doing an international internship. They will most likely be pricey, but if you can afford it there is no price you could put on international fashion industry knowledge. This will exhibit so many positive aspects about your character when presented on a resume, you can't even imagine! Here are a few organizations to help you on your search (Global Experiences , Intern Abroad )

  • Payed internships- If you are in a financial bind where you need to have a paying job, then it becomes quite difficult...but not impossible. I have a friend who attended college full time, had a paid fashion internship, had a part time waitressing job on the weekends, and comutted 2 hours every day...Mind you, she also passed all her classes with flying colors. I always wondered when she found time to sleep and she would say " I can sleep when I'm dead". Now if you aren't willing to make that kind of a commitment to fashion, then I warn you to get out now...Because this will be no picnic.

TIP- you should have a few substantial internships in order to pad your resume. For example if you are in school for 4 yrs, then every year you should get a new internship. Each new internship should teach you different things about the industry than the previous one. This can be presented on your resume and will exhibit you to be a jack of all trades in the fashion industry. Also while you are there you absolutely must LEARN, LEARN, LEARN, ask questions (but not to the point of being obnoxious) about how things work in that company, so you can get a better feel of the industry.

 

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2. Build up your Resume-

With all of your experiences you can now present who you are to the professional world

  •  Your resume should present your strongest qualities & should have structure.
  • To see how others set up their resumes you can browse around the profiles on Linked In or Google "Sample Resumes" / "Resume Templates".

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3. Create your Cover letter-

Make a professional auto-biography of who you are as a designer

  • Your cover letter should be a short and concise description of what journeys you've taken as a fashion designer.
  • To see how others set up their cover letters you can browse around the profiles on Linked In or Google "Sample cover letters" / "cover letter templates".

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4. Know what kind of job you are looking for-

  • What division of apparel do you want to go into? Sleep Wear, Swim Wear, Outer Wear, Evening Wear, Lingerie, Accessories etc...
  • What position are you looking for?
  • What kind of salary do you need?
  • How far would you be willing to commute to get to your job?
  • What kind of a company do you want to work for? small family owned, semi corporate, or a huge corporation.
  • How much responsibility are you capable of taking on?

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5. Start your job hunt!-

If you look above, where I mention how to search for an internship...you can use those same techniques when looking for a job. Professors, School, Online websites...But here are a few suggestions which are not posted above...

  • Contact past internships to see if they have any available positions or if they know of any other companies that have any available positions
  • Send emails to the HR departments of larger companies (i.e. Chloe, Ralph Lauren, Ralph Rucci...etc) Usually large companies don't post available positions because they can promote from within, or hire friends of existing employees.
  • Don't be afraid to send ACTUAL mail to designs companies. Send a little design package of your cover letter, resume, business card, and pieces of your strongest works. This makes a much larger impact than an email that they can easily delete.
  • Hit the pavement...What's harder to ignore than ACTUAL mail? An ACTUAL visit to the company!!! Go to the company of your choice, dressed to impress, With all of your fashion portfolio essentials. Ask the receptionist if you could meet the head designer of (insert design label here) for a 5 min introductory meeting. Mention "If now isn't a good time I could come back whenever he/she would like...I assure you, I will only be 5 minutes". NOTE: IT TAKES GREAT COURAGE TO DO THIS, WHICH IS WHY IT WILL BE SO IMPACTFUL

BE AWARE- People would do anything to get a good fashion job...I promised myself that if I didn't get a job within 2 months after graduation I would set up a small fashionable table in the center of the garment district (in NY where I live) full of brochures, business cards, resumes, cover letters, recommendation letters, samples of my work...etc. FOR ALL OF THE FASHION PROFESSIONALS TO SEE. It takes bold moves such as that to make it in this highly competitive industry.

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6. Interview Etiquette-

Selling yourself in person is crucial...this will ensure you to get your professional position in the industry of fashion.

  •  Dress fashionably and professionaly
  •  Speak clearly, calmly, and confidently
  •  Turn off all electronics & never answer anything during an interview
  •  Don't chew gum, Don't be dirty, Don't smell ( of filth or intense perfume)
  •  Don't be nervous...People want to hire a confident capable employee
  •  Educate yourself on upcoming trends and the latest fashion news...For example if you are looking for a job in England and the interviewer says "so how do you think the fashion world will handle Alexander McQueens death"...don't respond by saying something like "Ahh, what he died!!!" or "Who is Alexander McQueen?"
  • Speak honestly...Don't pretend that you can do things that you know you are incapable of handling, because that will not end well for you. If asked to do something you know you can not do then say that you are familiar with it and you are a very fast learner.
  • After every interview remember to send a thank you email to your interviewer

WARNING!!!!!- WHILE APPLYING FOR JOBS DON'T GIVE ANYONE YOUR SS# , ACCOUNT INFORMATION OR CREDIT CARD INFORMATION...THIS COULD BE A SCAM...ALSO PLEASE BE AWARE THAT ANY ARTWORK YOU GIVE WILLINGLY TO COMPANIES (i.e. on your website, via email, via postal mail) CAN BE USED BY THOSE COMPANIES WITHOUT COMPENSATION TO YOU. SOOO ANY ARTWORK YOU PART WITH, YOU NEED TO ACCEPT THAT IT MIGHT BE USED ELSE WHERE WITHOUT YOUR KNOWLEDGE! UNFORTUNATELY THIS IS THE WAY OF THE FASHION WORLD...CREATIVE THEFT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME AND LAWS HAVE NOT YET BEEN CREATED TO PROTECT THE INNOCENT.

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SOOO!!! GOOD LUCK TO ALL, AND TOO ALL... MAY GOD HAVE MERCY ON YOUR FASHION SOUL!

 

Who Are You, & Why Should We Care?

Posted on February 28, 2010 at 5:35 PM Comments comments (1)

This is the question that every employer secretly thinks when seeking a new employee. And...This is a question that can be answered promptly and powerfully, if you have the right forms of self promotion.

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YOUR WEBSITE- The main and most important tool every designer should have is a primary website. For an example CLICK HERE... (This is my personal website)

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1) Places to create a website-

             - Intuit.com

             - Yola.com

             - Wix.com

             - Weebly.com

             - Webs.com 

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2) Website Contents-

Your site SHOULD have:

  •  An "About Me" page ( this should include a brief description of who you are as a designer...similar to that of a cover letter)

  •  A "Resume" page

  •  A "Portfolio" page (this should NOT have all of your portfolio work...only promote the best pieces that will make the employer want to see more)

  • "contact me" page

Your site COULD have:

  • "Press" page ( this would include any of your works that have been in newspapers, magazines, websites, fashion shows, or exhibitions)

  • "Recommendations" page ( if you have any recommendations from professors, internship superiors, or old bosses...then you should advertise them)

  •  A "Links" page ( this could include any other sites you may have that promote your work in the industry...like a blog for example)

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Social Networking Sites-

These days there are countless ways to promote yourself and the following are only to name a few:

     - Twitter

     - Facebook

     - Linked In (the Facebook for working professionals)

     - ISSUU (another place to promote your portfolio with complete PDF files)

     - Google Profiles

     - Craigslist

     - You Tube

     - Blogger

What Goes Where and Why???

Posted on February 14, 2010 at 7:50 PM Comments comments (3)

AT THIS POINT- 

I think it is best to do some brainstorming about the layout/ presentation of your project in development. Please see the following questions you should be asking yourself and some suggestions I offer.




 


1. What Season(s) & year am I designing for?

You have the following seasons to choose from Fall/Winter, Spring/Summer, Holiday and Resort see pictures below





(When developing projects for your portfolio I feel it best to decide your season after having done a few sketches; Because this gives you a chance to step back and look at where your collection is going and choose the appropriate season that your designs fit in...NOTE: this is not how it is done in the industry. Once you are in the work field you have to design for the season that the industry is currently working on.)


2. How should I layout my seasons, figures, flats, mood page, swatch page etc?

Here is a basic example of how you can brainstorm your presentation layout:



(It usually takes me a solid month of contemplation to land on a clear idea of what my project will end up looking like. Please note Presentation is KEY...Oddly, it matters just as much as your designs if not more. Each project needs to be as clear and as beautiful as possible.)


NOTE: Making your projects in books is a more effective and professional way of presenting your portfolio to clients...as opposed to using thick boards as a presentation medium.


3. What makes this project interesting to look at... other than my designs and presentation?


Figure out what you can do that sets you apart from other designers...

 

  • If you have unmatched hand drawing skills, then perhaps you should fully illustrate your entire project
  • If you have amazing computer graphic talent, then promote that throughout your portfolio and create your own graphic prints on many of your designs.
  • If you have great collage abilities, then perhaps you can collage your backgrounds, mood pages, swatch board etc...HOWEVER make sure your collage isn't messy or falling apart, this looks terribly unprofessional.
  • If you are a skilled pop-up book creator (LIKE ME), then make elements of your portfolio to be pop up and/ or interactive...see examples below:
  • Portfolio Presentation Points

    Posted on January 24, 2010 at 10:15 PM Comments comments (0)

    Before I go any further I think I should specify what a portfolio should always have...

     

    1) A FEW PROJECTS THAT PRESENT YOUR WIDE RANGE OF DESIGN ABILITIES-

     Don't be fooled that you have to target your portfolio to each company you interview for. You need to show everyone your versatility. For example you never know if that company is looking for an outerwear designer with a background in sportswear...These are things that aren't always put on to job postings, so always be prepared...Some examples of things you could show would be Sleep wear, Outer wear, Active wear, Sportswear, or Swim wear.

    888888888

    2) TECHNICAL COMPUTERIZED FLATS & TECHNICAL / SPEC PACKAGES-

    Many companies these days work with Adobe Illustrator for creating CAD flats and knowing how to use this program is vital to you being hired as a fashion designer. Present your ability to use this program in the presentations you do such as I did...CLICK HERE for an example. Also It is important to show you know how to take accurate measurements and notice specific details of garments by creating "tech packs". Your knowledge of creating tech packs will be another powerful tool you can use to getting hired...For more examples CLICK HERE.

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    3) SHOW EXAMPLES OF PAST FASHION ACCOMPLISHMENTS-

    If you have ever had works that were published, put on a website, presented at a school event...etc. Examples of these accomplishments should be exhibited in your portfolio. Give your portfolio something to brag about!

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    4) KEEP EXTRA STOCK OF YOUR RESUMES, COVER LETTERS, RECOMMENDATION LETTERS, AND BUSINESS CARDS-

    This is something I would always forget when going on interviews. Sometimes your interviewer has seen your resume and cover letter at one point but they might not keep hold of it after they ask you on the interview...so you should always keep extra copies of your resumes, cover letters, business cards or any recommendation letters you may have.

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    5) ORGANIZE YOUR PORTFOLIO-

    I have seen fashion hopeful after fashion hopeful come in to interviews with larger than life folder/ portfolio/ briefcases. Try to keep your portfolio neat, organized and as compact as possible. Your portfolio is a direct reflection of you in every way, even the way work is placed into it...so don't be sloppy! 

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    6) KEEP SKETCHBOOK WORK HANDY- 

    I don't put my sketchbook work directly into my portfolio, however I keep it handy just in case they would like to see it. What I do is...After they are almost finished flipping through my portfolio I state "...and I also have a bit of my sketch book work with me if you'd like to see it" I have never had a case where they said "No that won't be necessary", but on the off chance that someone would, you should just smile and say "...oh ok"... plain and simple. I would suggest to always give them the option, because most employers want to see how you formulate your design process.  

     

    Sketch, Rinse, Repeat

    Posted on January 23, 2010 at 9:20 PM Comments comments (0)

    Now comes the most painful, and most enjoyable, part of the portfolio creation process

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    Sketching!!!!!

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    Until your fingers bleed,

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    while constantly looking at the newest trends until your mind is artistically over stimulated. The best place, I feel, to get inspiration for fashion is www.Style.com in the "videos" section. I always keep my sketchbook handy while I watch the runway shows...you never know when a particular seam line or silhouette will inspire your next collection. The most intimidating thing is staring at a blank page...Don't be afraid! Just put something down, anything. My first few sketches always look a little heinous, but after...oh I dunno..the 50th sketch, things really start to click. Your collection sketch book shouldn't be filled with just your sketches; It should have pictures of looks you're drawn to and that follow your collection's theme. Also it should have pieces of fabrics or color chips you're thinking of using. And anything else that inspires you. You are the master of your own domain, now go and be masterful. Below I have included my first few pages...please be gentle in your judgements...I told you it takes me until my 50th drawing to finally get it right...I'll let you know when I get there.

     

    When you have finished your "quick sketches" and you are ready to create your final figures which will be used in your presentation project there are many different mediums you can use. You could use any form of paints, basic pencil sketches, markers, colored pencils, or digital rendering; there are no limitations. However it would be best using the medium you are most comfortable with and / or you can create designs quickly with. For the reason of time and efficiency most of the fashion industry uses colored pencils and markers when creating illustrations (brands prismacolor & chartpack are what i use). Another very common form of rendering is with the computer, as most of the technical sketches are created using Adobe Illustrator and coloring it quick and easy.

    Customer, Who? Customer, What?

    Posted on January 17, 2010 at 6:25 PM Comments comments (3)

    As written in my post below knowing who your target customers are becomes very important once in the real world of fashion. Some designers find it easier to dress people whose style is just like theirs...This is not a bad idea. What better way to sell to someone’s personal tastes when those tastes are identical to yours. I actually find it a little strange when a 55 year old man says that he "undoubtedly knows how to sell to a 13 year old girl"! I'm not saying it's impossible, but I sure as heck think that it isn't probable. Now, often I do a draft of a mood board and customer page and I don't finalize the layout to my portfolio until the very end of my designing process. However I already know what kind of clothes I'll be designing and the overall aesthetic/ theme for my portfolio...Therefore You can get a 1st draft sneak peak of the layout of what my portfolio will be. HERE IT IS!!!

     

    I know what you’re probably thinking...doesn't look like much huh? But, I used to be the kind of designer that would put all kinds of crap on my presentation boards. However it never got the kind of reactions I received when I started making my presentations cleaner and with fewer colors. You have to realize that the person who interviews you for a job won't always be a designer, and therefore won't have the artistic mindset of a designer...so you can't always present a collage of magazine clippings and shredded fabric pieces to your interviewer. Your overall presentation should be clear and concise for all the sales people who might be hiring you, but it should also be aesthetically and artistically pleasing in order to satisfy all of the designers that might be hiring you as well.

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    Note- It is not always necessary to create a customer page for each project, however you should know exactly who your customer is when designing and creating the projects presentation. Also you want to be able to answer any questions about your customer when asked in an interview. So, know your customer like the back of your Prada sunglasses!

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    TO SEE WHAT MY FINISHED PROJECT LOOKS LIKE CLICK HERE

    Ready, Set, RESEARCH!!!

    Posted on January 16, 2010 at 7:50 PM Comments comments (0)

    Just like the most important meal of the day, which is the first one... breakfast (or so they say)...The most important step of a fashion portfolio is the first one... research (or so I believe).

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    It will dictate the mood, color and theme of your entire collection within your portfolio. It is also a great way to center your design thoughts. 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 hireable portfolio make. Whenever you seam stuck or losing control of your collection...try to refer back to your original research, and design within these parameters.

    I know that some times when professors tell you to think of a customer and create a mood board for that customer, it feels pretty unimportant. And, to be honest for class it kind of is, because you aren't designing for a customer...YET! However it becomes exceedingly important once in the industry, because if you don't know your customer then you won't have a customer. If you can figure out who your customer is (what music she listens to, what food she eats, where she lives, what her age is, what other stores she shops at) then, and only then can you attempt to sell to her...and ultimately make a sale, which let's face it... is the whole point of this screwy thing we do.

    To give you some easy examples of what I do when I'm researching you can see some pages from my sketchbook while researching for a project (click here). Also while during my blog I will be doing a whole new portfolio from scratch so you can participate while I create. Here are some of the mood images I will be using for my upcoming portfolio...which I'm still brainstorming a title for..." Evening Illumination"... "Golden Nightfall"...

    If you have a story or tips to share then please comment and tell us about it. I am not an all knowing OMNI DESIGNER...what I have to teach I have learned through my experiences and the experiences from those around me...We all have something to teach...So please speak up so the whole class (i.e. THE WORLD) can hear you.

    NOTE: For some great places to find mood images here are some sites for you:

    Google

    Flickr

    Ffffound!!!

    Prints & Patterns

    Pomme Chan

    The Satorialist

    Visualize

    Style

    - Pinterest

    AND FOR ALL YOU STUDENTS OUT THERE TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOUR SCHOOLS FORCASTING MEMBERSHIPS TO PLACES LIKE THE FOLLOWING WEBSITES

    Stylesight

    Fashion Snoops

    Doneger

    WGSN

    Sketch for Style

    Posted on January 10, 2010 at 2:35 PM Comments comments (0)

    During your schooling of basic figure drawing and presentation layouts etc... I find it extremely helpful to have a little sketchbook/ journal which you use throughout the year. I think every year you should start a new one, as to keep things interesting and fresh, but you don't have to. I found that for me and several of my colleagues drawing and writing in our books helped us to figure out our personal genuine style.

    Do you like to draw perfect smooth flowy lines that look like Laura Laine (see pic below) 

    ...Or is your style a bit more sketchy with broken contorted lines like Danny Roberts (see pic below)

    OR

    The detailed yet effortless illustrations of Renaldo Barnette (see pic below)

    Me...My style is more eclectic...I range between cartoonish Tim Burton style drawing to very commercial. I know that keeping a constant log of your work for recreation isn't so easy when you have a heap of stuff to deal with at school or work...but this is something for you that you should invest in now if you want to reap the benefits later (when you will really need it...like after graduation).To check out what one of my sketch books look like click HERE...or to see other artist sketchbooks click HERE 

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    WARNING!!! Professors will try to teach you to draw just like them, which is almost always an anatomically correct pristine fashion figure. And while it is important to know how to draw a "commercially correct" fashion figure, it is necessary to exhibit your unique artistic vision. While in school I got graded down because I refused to give my figures eye balls, and not only did I still get hired...I often received compliments on my figures. Pablo Picasso was able to create precise realistic artworks, proven by his stunning earlier pieces. However he became a legend from his unrealistic cubist works. All the while he was laughed at and scorned for his "rudimentary and child like" style. But, who had the last laugh? It is only until you fully learn and understand the rules that you can properly break them with artistic magnificence.To show you what I mean, check out the following links from some "unconventional" professional fashion illustrators:

    - Cassandra Rhodin

    - Steven Broadway

    Bella Pilar

    - Sonya Suhariyan

    Renaldo Barnette

    Swirly to Straight

    Posted on January 9, 2010 at 10:45 PM Comments comments (0)

    Okay so...Lesson #1 - If you want to be a fashion designer it would help if you can draw...Now I can't give you an extensive fashion course lesson...That is what school is for, but I can give you a helpful tip to get your drawing lines under control...All the teachers in all the world can teach you the technical basics of drawing a fashion figure or fashion presentation. But what about the non-technical stuff...How do you actually get your hand to do what your eyes and mind want. Well, it beats the hell out of me...But, here is a trick that can help to make those body parts work harmoniously.

    Get a lined piece of paper and start to draw down the lines, and do it rather quickly. Don't bother to erase JUST DRAW!!! After some time and 10 packs of lined paper later your lines will seem to be automatically straight.

    Congratulations you now have full artistic mobility of your hand!!!   OR DO YOU???

    As a fashion designer it is important to build up your knowledge of measurements just by looking at something....which means it is time to get rid of the lined paper! Get a blank peice of paper and do the same thing, draw parallel lines...But not just any parallel lines. With some time and study you should know how far 1/8" LOOKS...same goes for 1/4" and 1/2" and so on...NOW DRAW THEM!!! draw about 10 parallel lines 1/8" apart, then 1/4" etc...Then go and get a ruler and see how off you were!

    Don't get discouraged if you think you suck...We all do at first.

    THIS TIP WOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN GIVEN TO YOU IF IT WASN'T GIVEN TO ME BY MY DEAR PAL...MARIA LEE!! THANKS LOVE!

     


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