How to Make a Killer Portfolio. 4 rules you should follow to hit the mark.

20 March 2019


Tons of words could be spent on portfolio preparation. And rightly so: there isn’t one single, specific way to prepare it and much depends on WHAT you are presenting. The kind of project you are attempting to communicate demands, first of all, for an objective look from the outside. Often designers do not realise how engrossed they are in their project and take for granted things that should be explained, because from their own perspective everything is so personal and clear that it’s self-explanatory.


“But someone who knows nothing about your work, has never met you and doesn’t have a clue about what you’re capable / not capable of will inevitably hit a dead end looking at your unexplained sketches and materials” says Barbara, founder & director of ITS. So, first advice: put yourself in the position of explaining your work to someone who knows NOTHING about design, fashion or creativity in general. If you can convince them, you can convince anyone!


Which easily translates to: don’t prepare a hundred-page portfolio! Again there’s no dictated rule here, just common sense. Imagine a jury that needs to go through hundreds and hundreds of portfolios to decide the next generation of ITS. Time becomes a serious concern and flipping through huge portfolios makes things worse. We often see young designers fitting into their books EVERYTHING they have about their collection because they are unable to make a selection: and that’s already grounds for a decision by the jury. They’ll think you lack the ability to select the strongest elements to communicate your work, and will be annoyed by having to piece together huge streams of information to get the final picture.
The message you are sending has to be strong, clear and most importantly CONCISE. It will be appreciated, it will look professional, you will communicate that you have a very clear idea of your work and that you don’t waste time on additional information that adds nothing to the clearness of your presentation. It’s not about taking out information, it’s about putting all the information AND NOTHING ELSE…


What you really don’t want is to get jurors hooked on your project and then leave them with no pictures of finished outfits/pieces. Like being hungry and having a lock on the fridge. And this opens for a debate, because your timeframe (particularly if you are in your graduation year) for the development of your collection might simply clash disastrously with the ITS deadlines to apply: by March 17th you could still be in a very early stage of development and all you can include in your portfolio is research, concept, sketches and… that’s it.
In such cases, the first advice we can provide is to contact us directly via email to see if there’s possible alternatives concerning sending pictures of finished pieces you might have right after the deadline and BEFORE the finalists’ selections. We’re flexible and always available for help (maybe that’s the reason why “Support” is in our name?). Another solution is to strive for technical drawings which really give an idea of what the final collection will look like, adding a selection of photos of your strongest past work to convince the jury that your technical abilities are unquestionable and that you KNOW how to produce what you claim in your research, concept and sketches.


The best way for your portfolio to be discarded is to organize your material in a messy, incoherent way. And there’s not much space for interpretations here, the order of things has to be the following: present yourself (CV), tell us about your concept and what inspired it (research material), sketch out a lineup, then dive into each single piece/outfit through an artistic sketch and a technical sketch. Include samples of fabrics/materials so the jury can touch and feel what you will use. If you have out-of-the-ordinary techniques (weird or unseen stitching, revolutionary knitwear, jaw-dropping material bondings…) you might want to include samples of that too. Finally, include pictures of finished pieces (if you have them, see the above chapter “complete the pictures” otherwise).

For all the rest, the ITS 2019 Entry Requirements and the constantly updated FAQ section on our website are your destination. But if you’ve read up to here, you now have precious insider tips on what you need to do and how you need to do it. And not just for ITS, consider them as general rules for any portfolio you will need to prepare in the future.

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