Think of a lookbook as a visual guide to a brand. In the world of fashion, lookbooks have been an important part of the marketing strategy for many years. Basically, they’re a sort of catalogue that is sent to buyers for them to get an overall feel of the collection. Through lookbooks, designers show potential buyers how their clothes should be worn.
This is the traditional lookbook. In recent years, though, the lookbook has had an incarnation in video form thanks to YouTubers and fashion bloggers. These ‘lookvideos’ are less about featuring a particular brand and more about presenting different outfit options for different occasions and times of the year, for example.
In this blog post, we’ll be talking about the first version. Also, there’s another similar publication called a line sheet which tends to get confused with a lookbook but they have different purposes.
- The Difference Between a Lookbook and a Line Sheet?
- The Benefits of a Lookbook
- How to Design a Lookbook
- General Tips
The Difference Between a Lookbook and a Line Sheet
A line sheet also features the pictures of your garments but it is a much more technical document. It’s not meant to inspire but to inform. On a line sheet, you’ll find information such as the SKU (stock keeping unit), colours, fabrics, sizes, the wholesale price (without VAT) and the recommended retail price.
Another difference is that line sheets don’t feature models. Usually, the pictures just show the garment lying on a flat surface and at other times they’re just sketches.
Are lookbooks for everyone?
Before you decide to make a lookbook, stop and think if it is the right project for you. Will you be able to get a good ROI (return on investment) from them? Would you be able to get any business out of it? Lookbooks take a lot of time and resources so make sure you have a good plan before embarking on this journey.
The Benefits of a Lookbook
Some people might think that nowadays thanks to Instagram, a lookbook might not be necessary anymore but that would be like saying that thanks to Linkedin we don’t need business cards anymore.
Gets you Noticed
Unlike social media, a lookbook is a medium where you have complete control from start to finish of how it looks and the way it’s perceived.
Makes you Look Bigger
If your lookbook is well produced, then it might make your brand look bigger than it really is. This is a strategy many fashion designers use when they’re first getting started.
Will Serve for Years to Come
Even though the main purpose of a lookbook is to sell the upcoming collection, it also works very well as a way of archiving your work.
How to design a lookbook
Here’s a step by step overview of how to design a lookbook.
Step 1 – Planning
Spend some time thinking, what do you want your lookbook to look like? More often than not, the answer will come by thinking of your ideal customer. Who do you want to wear your clothes? What do they look like? What do they do? This is also a good moment to design a mood board.
Step 2 – Sketching
Sketch your layout. While nowadays we’ve got Adobe software that can do almost anything for us, sketching by hand is still the best way to get an early feel of what your printed product might end up looking like. Try not to include more than two images per page as it might start to look cluttered.
This is also a good time to start writing a description of each group. Even though lookbooks don’t have as much information as line sheets, they still contain written information on each garment. Try to keep the descriptions between 30 and 60 words.
Step 3 – Production
Once you’ve got a pretty clear idea of what you want, it’s time to start the production. This would be the time to hire a model and a photographer (if you don’t possess the picture-taking skills). Different lookbooks have different requirements. Large productions may require to rent a venue and a several days shoot while others may be done in a single afternoon in a well-lit room.
Step 4 – Editing
Once you have all of the images, it’s time to put them together. The process will vary if you do it yourself or if you hire a designer. If you hire a designer, make sure they understand your vision very well. If you do it yourself, then you’ll need to get acquainted with design software such as Photoshop and Indesign. If you can’t afford Adobe prices, then don’t worry because there are others free tools you can use
Spend a long time working on the cover. This is the most important part of your lookbook since it will be the first thing people see. Also, buyers receive hundreds of lookbooks all the time, if they’re not attracted to yours, they will never crack it open.
Step 5 – Publishing
Once the design is done, it’s ready to be uploaded to the internet for everyone to see. Platforms such as ISSUU and Flipsnack are free and easy to use. The good thing about them is that it mimics how you flip real pages and don’t look like stiff PDFs.
I would also strongly advise you to have a physical version of your lookbook. The world is going digital but, consider this, it is harder for a buyer to ignore a real, space-taking object on their desk than it is to skip an email. Lookbook’s make great business cards.
Nowadays there are online drop shipping businesses such as Vistaprint which can send your lookbooks right to your door or you can stop by and visit your trustworthy printer.
Here are some general tips to keep in mind while you’re making your lookbook.
Keep it Simple
Lookbooks are meant to showcase your products right and centre. They’re the star. This is probably the only time where you’d want the clothes to wear the model and not the other way around. This means that anything else that might distract from the garments needs to be eliminated. Usually, lookbook’s feature very minimal layouts and the models standing in front of a simple background.
Start and Finish with a Bang
Much like a runway, a catalogue needs to start with a strong look and finish with one too. We tend to remember the first and last thing we see. This is particularly important if you’re printing the lookbook because the first and the last pages are always the most seen in any publication. This is why they’re the most expensive pages of a magazine to advertise on.
Your lookbook will be the first impression many people — and hopefully a buyer — will have of your brand. You don’t want it to look cheap, now do you? It might be hard to find the budget, especially when getting started but it is important to do so if the end goal is to stand out.
We advise not only invest in a photographer but also a model, graphic designer and maybe even a makeup artist. And don’t forget about the print. You may have the best possible team bur their work will all go to waste if it all comes down to a cheap, low-quality print.
Use Close-up Shots
If an outfit has a special detail that’s worth highlighting, don’t be afraid to use close-up shot.
Here are some lookbook examples from different brands and designers.
This French label is known for its minimal and anti-trend style. This is reflected in their lookbook which is simple but at the same whimsical due to the strange poses of the models.
Pharrell Williams was joined by fellow celebrities Pusha T and VJ Mian, among others to create this unique lookbook for the Superstar footwear silhouette.
Reflecting the values of the brand, this lookbook is as minimal and sober as it can be. It goes to show you, you don’t need a lot to make a good-looking spread.
This is a classic example of a lookbook. Its spread doesn’t feature more than two images and it only offers the necessary information of the garments displayed.
The sportswear giant made a lookbook to promote their redesigned model which features not models but women from different fields. When done well, models are not always necessary.
Urban Outfitters Lookbook
Thanks to a fun layout, this American brand makes its lookbook stand out. It is a good example of how to use colour.
The darling of the Inditex group has rebranded its lookbook’s and called them ‘stories.’ It gives it a fun little twist.
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