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How to create a fashion portfolio for university

  • Written byMariana Jaureguilorda Beltran
  • Published date 04 December 2022

Are you interested in studying fashion and need to get yourself and your portfolio ready?

Finding your creative identity may be the answer. You can start by having a look at our how to start a career in fashion story for inspiration, but you should also consider our Fashion Folio Course.  Gina Grunwald and Saranya Umanshaka took our Fashion Folio course and are now enrolled in BA Fashion Design programmes at Central Saint Martins. We caught up with them to see how they are doing.

What is a Fashion Portfolio?

As with any creative field, fashion design uses portfolios to showcase skills. It can include illustrations, fabric swatches, photos, and artwork, but above all, it needs to tell a story. A portfolio is a must, whether you are a designer already in the field or a student who seeks entry into a fashion design school. In essence, the portfolio is your visual resume.

What is Fashion Folio?

Fashion Folio is an 11 week highly intensive fashion program where students produce a portfolio to apply to undergraduate and postgraduate studies, employment or personal development.

This course will push your understanding of fashion and challenge your ideas of how to design garments. You will work hard and find inspiration in new and unexpected areas. Fashion Folio is a full-time course with both directed and independent study. You will be provided with one-to-one sessions on a weekly basis – helping you to identify your strengths and weaknesses and gain resilience to overcome limitations.

What should a Fashion portfolio include?

If you are just starting, this can feel overwhelming, especially if you haven't worked on bigger projects. The process is always the same, collect, edit and select your best projects. Try to categorize your work in tags, by theme or type of execution, this way you will give consistency and sequence to a project series.

Once you have an accurate overview of the best projects that represent your professional work, start curating the images that are going to be attached to the projects. The fashion and lifestyle industries place a high value on aesthetics, so be sure to create a balanced selection of images that enhance and showcase your creative outlook.

6 tips for your portfolio

  1. Show your range. Include pieces that show your ability to work with different materials, themes and techniques.
  2. Process over perfection. Include some unfinished work to show us how you research and develop your ideas.
  3. Create a strong narrative. Building a story with an impactful beginning and end will ensure you leave a lasting impression.
  4. Be decisive. If you can't explain a particular piece, don't include it. How you edit your work shows us your ability to work to a brief - a key skill for all creatives.
  5. Explain your vision. Include labels to guide us through your creative processes and vision.
  6. Take control. Show us what you want us to see, not what you think we want to see. Your personality, individuality and passion are your most powerful tools.

Gina Grunwald was accepted onto BA Fashion Design with Knitwear at CSM after completing the Fashion Folio/

“This course has equipped me with very good and basic tools in fashion and textiles. It also helped me to focus on who I am, and what it is that I really want to do what is special about me? And then further, most importantly, I think the opportunity to find special and very close mentors, like this is extremely beneficial in your creative process of every day,” she said.

Gina is currently in her second year at CSM. During the pandemic, Gina relocated to Zurich, her hometown, far from slowing her down, it gave her the time to start her own sustainable fashion business.

“GINA GRNW is a brand and social business. It presents itself as an alternative platform with a strong zero waste and upcycling DNA, challenging the destructive mainstream world of fashion,” she explained.

GINA GRNW does things differently. The unique studio pieces are entirely made out of upcycled acrylic glass, which gets locally sourced as offcuts from plexiglass factories.

Taking Fashion Folio, helped Gina find her creative identity and gain all the skills needed to progress onto her BA of choice.

Sarnya Umanshaka attended Fashion Folio and progressed onto BA Fashion Design Womenswear.

“I was building my portfolio for entry to a degree at CSM. Fashion Folio taught me how to put together a portfolio, how to build a project and a collection. As well as, think about research, design, development, experimentation – all the things you need to make a collection.”

Sarnya felt a lot more confident and capable after taking stage 2 and stage 3 of Fashion Folio.

“I really enjoyed it. I met loads of wonderful people. The tutors were really interesting, they guided you and encouraged you to do things your way and to be independent and proactive. Overall, it was life-changing for me, because I developed so much over the course of six months," she said.

She talked us through one of the first projects she worked on during her first months on the BA Fashion Design at Central Saint Martins.

“During my first three months on my BA’s first year, I worked on the white show. In the brief, we could choose between three pathways in terms of concept: Lovers, borderlines and history of art. I chose to go with a theme of lovers and looked at arranged marriages.

I used my parents as an anecdote.  I developed a concept and a garment based on my mom’s stance and opinion of love. I ended up making a chair, which sounds strange, but she used it to describe herself sitting back and watching people make arrangements for her. So that is what I spent the first three months of CSM. I learned how to turn a visual narrative and design idea into something 3D and physical," she said.

Are you a budding fashion designer, but not sure where to start? Head over to our website to find out how our Fashion Folio course can help you get your start in the fashion industry.

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