Thursday, March 17, 2011
How to create a fashion portfolio
If you click on the above image or go to www.janetleekim.com/portfolio.html, you can view my fashion portfolio. Often when you email people your resume and cover letter, they ask you for links to your work. However, images of your clothing are generally not sufficient. They also want to see sketches, usually both hand sketches and Illustrator flats although in New York, more often work is done on the computer. I'd seen portfolios in the past, and obviously from my own line had collections that I had done, but still felt somewhat at a loss as to how I should put it all together.
Through a personal connection, my resume was submitted internally at Gap and I met with a recruiter. I showed her a binder that contained a collection of rough sketches with swatches, a couple of lookbooks/photos of my clothes, and press I'd received. She very generously gave me constructive criticism on how to put my book together, showing me a sample of a freelance project she had on hand -- inspiration images, fabric swatches, and sketches. I think every company has a different preference for style, and in New York, which is a pretty commercial market, the style tends to be favor computer work. However, the style she was interested in, and what comes more naturally to me, was something more organic and handmade (and someone later told me, what the head designer, Patrick Robinson, prefers). She also told me that since my background was more unconventional, my portfolio should reflect that.
With that, I decided I wanted my portfolio to feel more like you had come across a sketchbook of sorts, as opposed to something that was more polished. People get more excited when they feel like they are getting an inside glimpse into your process, even if what they're actually seeing is something that is carefully constructed. I bought a moleskine notebook and started putting the book together. It took me a while to figure out how I wanted it to look, but I started with compiling inspiration images. This was a little tricky because sometimes what inspires me is an idea rather than an actual image - like how would this shape look cut out on a leg -- so I also did a Google search for images which I could pretend inspired my collection.
I looked around on the internet for examples. I didn't search too hard but didn't really find much that was helpful. What did help me, however, was to go to a portfolio seminar run by the freelance/talent agency, 24Seven, located in SoHo in New York. They run all sorts of training events to help you become more employable, including this seminar. My seminar was run by Molly Gamble, who does recruiting for Delia's.
Molly went through the different aspects of the portfolio, and general do's and don'ts. However, what was most interesting was the end part where she critiqued each person's portfolio, or whatever they had started. There were about 6 or 7 of us there. Although most of the other portfolios were more computer-based (i.e. mainly computer illustrations, laid out in Photoshop, and professionally printed), it was still helpful to see how other people had integrated the different elements. Seeing the samples really helped me solidify how I wanted to lay out my portfolio. Since I do some web design, I decided to just scan my portfolio (although I ended up doing a lot of work cleaning up the scans on Photoshop) and put it on my own site. However, Molly recommended the website Coroflot, a free site where you can upload your portfolio. Other portfolio sites that were recommended:
Places in New York to buy portfolio supplies:
- Sam Flax
- Lee's Art Shop
- AI Friedman
- Pearl Paint
- Dick Blick
I bought my moleskine notebooks at Dick Blick (I also live near there). You can sign up for a discount card and if you're on their mailing list they often send out coupons.
Besides Craigslist, you can find fashion design jobs listed on StyleCareers. Also, a lot of the bigger companies post jobs directly on their websites, and you can apply through their site.