Trend Research for a Successful Portfolio Project

Have you read the introduction, as well as the other posts in this series? If not, I recommend starting here.

Developing a portfolio project with a specific company in mind shows the hiring manager that you are able to adapt your style to the company’s existing brand image. Since your job experience is minimal at this stage, it is important to show the manager that you can create prints and graphics for someone other than yourself! After researching the company’s target market and choosing a target season, the next step involves finding trends and concepts that are appropriate for the company.

I covered many of these points in my post, “5 Super Sly Tips to Forecasting Trends in YOUR Market,” but today’s tips are specifically for those of you developing projects to land your first job!


Identify images that will resonate with your customer

At this point, you should have a fairly in depth understanding of the end-use consumer. To help you stay focused, make a list of all the images that you think will resonate with this customer.

For example, in Step One I mentioned that my customer really loves to kayak, so it is pretty safe to assume that she is drawn to nature-inspired prints. My customer may be drawn to: birds, leaves, water, flowers and textures. Having this list created before you begin any trend research allows you to stay clear on the goal at hand: creating a project to land your first job or internship.


Research trends in a focused manner

With your customer mood board and list of images in hand, it is time to begin your trend research! I hope that Pattern Observer can be a beneficial resource throughout the design process. When using Pattern Observer, you can either browse through the different categories that apply to your market (on the right-hand side of your screen) or you can use the search tool to find prints from various seasons. I also encourage you to check out Stylesight and Pattern People for additional inspiration.

As wonderful as blogs and trend services are, I think it is important for you to do your own research without someone else’s filter on what is trending. You know your customer and need to see the big picture, not just a blogger’s interpretation of the trends. To do this visit sites like and where they post most of the recent runway collections.

Throughout this research process, constantly refer back to your customer mood board and your list of images. Are these trends in line with the customer? Can these trends be interpreted in a way that will resonate with your customer? Are they appropriate for the season that you chose in Part Two?

If not, ignore the trend or set it aside for a future project. Remember to stay focused on the task at hand and think of the customer who you know so well!

Develop a Trend Board

Similar to your customer mood board, quickly compile the strongest trends onto a board for use during the design process. This can be done in illustrator or photoshop and doesn’t need to be finalized until later on in the design process. For the time being, this mood board will just be used to help you stay on track during the design process.

I would love to see the trend board that you develop this week! Please feel free to post your mood board (or a link to your board) on the Pattern Observer facebook page and tell us about the trend and why it is appropriate for your customer.

Enjoy! Michelle

The next post in this series can be found here.

P.S. If you are enjoying this series then consider joining us for The Sellable Sketch!

At Pattern Observer we strive to help you grow your textile design business through our informative articles, interviews, tutorials, workshops and our private design community, The Textile Design Lab.

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