A lot of people write to me about what to put into a portfolio when applying to fashion business or marketing courses, so I have decided to compile a list of suggestions. But before you go through the list and frantically start writing business plans and creating assortment sheets, the best piece of advice I can give you is to read the portfolio requirements. Most courses will either have requirements or will give suggestions as to what you include in your portfolio. If they don’t , I strongly suggest you contact them and ask for suggestions. Only then should you resort to this list, or consult it for filler ideas, if your portfolio already fills requirements but needs a few more things to impress. First and foremost, you should bring them what they ask for. Then by all means show off your business and marketing skills with a few of these:
1. Shop Reports: The course director on one of the degrees I taught on was a really big fan of shop reports and she was right to think that a shop report is a very good way to assess a student’s skills. A good shop report should firstly be concise, lots of bullet points and subtitles, this is not an essay. Include things like store name, location, opening hours, brands sold, type of layout, merchandising, customers, change rooms, marketing, service, product, price point, and more. Great images, charts, tables, and maybe even a SWOT demonstrate that you are an observant individual who understands what people are looking for when they research retail. If you are feeling brave, add in some recommendations for improvement, you can get creative here, but be sure to justify the recommendations.
2. Trend Boards: Trend boards can be a great way to show you are able to identify or forecast trends, which is a valuable skill in the fashion world. Whether you are identifying or forecasting trends, timeliness will be an issue here. You don’t want to create a trend board for a future trend and then show it to someone 12 months later when it is no longer relevant (unless you can prove you were correct in the forecast!) Identifying trends could be either through catwalk or social and cultural trends, using art, music, street style, lifestyle, and technology. Forecasting should also use cultural and social “landmarks” but will also require some intuition in order to predict how what is going on now and what is about to happen will impact how we will be dressing in 6-18 months. Either way, your board should include a really good trend name, a few words describing it, some key words, and lots of visuals of inspiration, silhouettes, materials, styling and anything else relevant to communicating the trend to your market. You may also want to consider whether your board is aimed at designers or consumers.