Should new grads create a portfolio targeted to specific company they are applying for?

Hello all!
I hope that you’ve been having a good start of Spring…
I’m a new fashion design grad and my current portfolio is mostly experimental /minimalist

I’m looking to apply for outerwear brands (because I’m from Canada and in Canada only outerwear / athleisure are growing now & have openings…), yet nothing in my portfolio goes into tech wear…

I’ve spoken to one of my teachers and she told me I should just do a portfolio (2-3 pages) that is specifically dedicated to the brand I am applying for. For instance, make a whole Arc’teryx portfolio with a suggested lineup. She also says that companies may as well tell you to do some projects during the interview process anyways.

My main worry is that this can become very time consuming; as a perfectionist, I could become so addicted to such self imposed project alone I don’t spend as much time applying or stuff… Then again, I feel like my portfolio is enough? That companies/recruiters are able to tell if one knows Adobe very well, can do design research, is able to interpret a concept and make some 3D development, that one can be trained in outerwear?

Or, perhaps outerwear is so specific that I SHOULD do a project on that to show I’m able to appreciate tech wear? In addition, my internships were mostly in ready to wear / women’s wear and more on the creative side.

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I wouldn’t design specifically to the brand in your portfolio, project requests during interviews are common so if they ask you to design something for the brand, then do so. Personally, I like to do a “capsule” collection (2-3 pages: mood/Color CADs/ Some tech call-outs etc.) in my portfolio that is geared toward the brand/product but not a direct brand proposal. I feel it is still important to show your personal creativity, especially with more conceptual brands (less if you’re getting into the low-budget mass market).

I wouldn’t cater your entire portfolio to the brand, though if you do swim and are applying for an outwear brand I would adjust to being heavier in what they do specifically but also show your versatility.


Agree with @bbygrlrachel - don’t design a collection JUST for Arc’teryx, but if you are applying for positions in outerwear, then you NEED to have some outerwear in there, to show that you can do it, and also that you have a passion and drive to work in it.

Don’t sweat over every detail. If you’re a recent grad, you’re probably applying for design asst jobs where you’ll mostly be sorting fabric swatches and possibly doing CADs or care label layouts. (Sorry- don’t get discouraged, but it’s true). No one will scrutinize your capsule outerwear collection over if you used the right stitch detail on a pocket, or if your olive green is the absolute correct shade from WGSN trend reports. Most likely, a recruiter will click through the whole presentation in 10 seconds. BUT- during those 10 seconds- they will have 1) grasped that you have a desire to work in outerwear 2) That you have a good working knowledge of illustrator/photoshop, 3-D renderings, etc and 3) You have a general eye for the aesthetic and look for outerwear/tech style items that would be an asset to the brand.

This will give you a leg up, so to speak, over people who show swimwear and wedding dresses, etc.

Think of this capsule as a homework assignment- that it’s something that you do to get a grade, so you can take the next class in your program. Don’t kill yourself- but make sure you have some designs, mood boards, color palettes etc that capture what Sw25’s outerwear and tech side look like. Yes- you may also have to do a specific project, after you have an awesome 1st interview, and in your case, with your limited experience, you should absolutely do that- though I recommend never emailing a project- it is always better to present it yourself- either in person or via zoom- as selling your ideas is just as much a part of the job as the design aspect. (Plus, there are ARE places that steal your designs- always best to be proactive).

Fashion companies are myopic- most of them will only judge you on your experience and designs on how it pertains to THEM. Yogawear companies want to see athletic stuff in your portfolio; swim people want to see swimwear. You’re young- all this stuff is experience and soon you’ll have a portfolio bursting with a variety of things to show. Best of luck!


I agree with the other two responses. I would also say, as a new graduate, who understands that their book is very experimental, I would suggest to create more than 2-3 pages of a “real” stuff. School work will only take you this far. Most employers want to see how you would deal in a real world (i.e. as @twirlgirl pointed out, sorting swatches, making CADs), so spend your time adding some of the “real world” groups in your book. And those things can be still within your style aesthetic, you don’t need to all of a sudden become Valentino if your aesthetic is Rick Owens. Good luck with your search!


Thank you for your feedback!!!
Yeah I think that making a specific portfolio for each brand I am applying to will be too time consuming. I do fear doing all that work and still not being considered for interview, even if that brand is my top choice. Would you think it’s a good idea to present a 10-page portfolio with a 2-3 page “outerwear” spread, and then 1 more creative project, then another one perhaps more skills based?

Thank you so much for your encouragement and feedback!!
Thinking about it as one more school homework that needs a grade is awesome - I’ll use that mentality when I schedule time to do it!
I thought so myself… how can I convince the recruiter (or even myself) that I want to go into outerwear if I’ve never touched the topic in any of my design work before?
When you mention CAD renderings or photoshop, do you think presenting ~3 technical colored garment flats with stitch lines would be enough? I’m thinking a capsule collection that is anywhere between 5-7 lineup collection.
Again, thank you s much for all your help! I see that you’ve answered my previous topic inquiries as well!! It’s extremely helpful in a time like this. :blush:

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Thank you @stilista !
It’s a relief that you confirmed how I don’t have to change my style completely.
While I enjoyed my school work, I don’t think that the recruiters looking at my portfolio would make the bridge between some of my designs and their own brand. How long would you suggest the book to be, if 2-3 pages of ‘real’ stuff is in there? Would 10 pages be standard?

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You could probably do about 8-10 groups for your first book (you want to impress and show that you’re prolific and have a lot of ideas). What’s important when getting a first job is to show your range. Have a casual group, have a swim group, have an active group, an evening group. At times, recent grads tend to only have a very special (graduation project related) portfolio, but it is important to look outside of that narrow view. And, yes, absolutely, stay within your own style and aesthetic. That’s what we look for when we hire. Your sense of style merged with the current trend and being able to apply it to our specific company. At least that is how I used to hire.


I suggest creating a portfolio website w/ Drop down tabs on the main page or images linked somehow to pages that show the different categories of your work. I have found this especially helpful when applying by email because I can link that specific category that the company needs to see.

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