What is a lookbook? (Plus importance and how to create one)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 14 November 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A lookbook is a collection of images that demonstrate a brand's clothing, accessories or other products. Its main aim is to serve as an introduction to the brand and its aesthetic, as it helps potential customers to understand the brand's style and identity. Learning about lookbooks and how to create them can help you build your employer's brand. In this article, we answer 'What is a lookbook?', outline how to create one, list the industries that use lookbooks and discuss their importance.

What is a lookbook?

To answer 'What is a lookbook?', it's a visual collection of clothing items that fashion professionals often use to present a brand to others. Typically, this presentation takes place in front of a camera or on a mannequin, which allows the viewer to see multiple angles on each article of clothing when worn. Lookbooks are also popular amongst consumers who want to see how different outfits might look on them before purchasing them. In some cases, a lookbook encourages sales.

Related: How to become a fashion stylist: a step-by-step guide

Why are lookbooks important?

Lookbooks are a great way for brands to demonstrate their products in an engaging, visually appealing way. Brands use them to promote their aesthetic, explain the product line's story or simply show off new styles. This explains to both customers and critics alike how their pieces differ from their competitors. Lookbooks are also great for social media marketing, as they allow brands to easily share photos of their looks, which helps create excitement around the product. For example, they may use one lookbook to create various looks that appeal to larger audiences.

How to create a lookbook

Here's a list of steps that explain how to create a lookbook:

1. Create a mood board

To create a lookbook, start by making a mood board. This is a collection of images that help designers create a cohesive look and feel for their new product line, brand or business. Fashion designers often use mood boards to create new collections, as they help them determine what kinds of colours, shapes and textures they want their designs to convey.

A mood board contains any type of visual media, including photographs, paintings and drawings, which all relate to the product you're trying to create. For example, if you're creating a new line of shoes, you may decide to include some photos of different styles.

Related: 12 project ideas to boost creativity and productivity

2. Choose your models

The next step involves choosing the right models, as this often makes the difference between a successful campaign and one that falls flat. During this step, consider whether you're choosing models based on their looks or their skill set. For example, you may decide to pick a famous model to create interest in the brand and reduce the risk of the campaign failing.

Related: How to become a model

3. Select the clothing and accessories

Next, make sure the clothing and accessories you choose complement the brand's theme. Start by choosing clothing and accessories that align with the target audience's age range, gender and style preferences. For example, if you're selling items for businessmen, use more formal items, like suits, rather than casual t-shirts and shorts. Also, take into account what types of things work well together. For example, if you're selling winter jackets, you may want to avoid summery pieces.

4. Plan your shoot

The next step involves planning your shoot. You may do this by thinking about the kind of images you want to capture and then deciding on an appropriate location and props. During this step, ensure your location has good lighting and background options. Hiring a photographer with experience in shooting at your chosen location is also a good idea, as this helps save time and money due to them knowing how to effectively use the space. Also, if your clothing line is all about comfort, consider conveying this by using blankets or pillows in some shots.

5. Take pictures from different angles

Taking pictures from different angles helps you gain a more comprehensive look at the clothes and models in your lookbook. For example, if you're taking pictures of a jacket, you may want to take pictures from the front, back, left side and right side. Doing this helps you to see how the jacket fits on the model. Moreover, this may allow you to identify any necessary changes to make to the clothing line.

Related: How to become a catalogue model (with steps and salary)

6. Create a lookbook mock-up

The next step involves creating a lookbook mock-up. This helps ensure you include all the necessary information for understanding each clothing item. The title is the first thing that people see when they open your lookbook and it's crucial that it has a clear description of the piece.

When doing this, include as much detail as possible while also trying to keep it concise. This helps maintain the reader's interest while also allowing them to understand what they're looking at. The description tends to explain what the product is and what you can do with it, including details like how durable the product is and whether it's machine washable.

7. Send the mock-up to a designer

Next, send your mock-up to a designer to prepare it for printing. Often, photographers don't have the necessary skills or experience to create a promotional product that's both eye-catching and high-quality. They may also lack the available funds to hire someone with these skills. The designer makes sure the layout is correct and that there are no spelling or grammatical errors. They also ensure the branding is consistent throughout so the final product looks both professional and polished.

8. Print copies

Finally, ensure you have physical copies available of your completed lookbook to distribute to existing or potential clients. Often, it's much easier and more professional to give someone a hard copy than an online link. Moreover, it's usually easier to refer back to a specific page in a physical lookbook. As you create your lookbook, make sure everything looks good in both physical and digital forms. This means checking how things look in black, in colour and when printed.

Which industries use lookbooks?

Alongside the fashion industry, the following industries often use lookbooks:

Automotive industry

Lookbooks play a key role in the automotive industry. They help companies to identify what types of products to produce, how those products look and what kind of message they want to send to consumers. This is especially useful for highlighting to customers the differences between trim levels, as it allows them to convey the specifics of the additional listed features. The automotive industry uses lookbooks to demonstrate its latest designs and technology. Moreover, car manufacturers use them to promote their brands, which helps them gain more customers.

Related: What is automotive engineering? (With career info)

Real estate

Real estate agents use lookbooks to sell properties. In this industry, a lookbook acts as a collection of photographs that show the inside and outside of a property and its relevant features. These pictures give prospective buyers an idea of what the property looks like and the potential changes they can make to it. This means they're also useful for helping sellers to understand how to present their homes.

The designers and photographers responsible for working on these lookbooks provide sellers with guidance on lighting, staging and decorating ideas. These are all crucial elements to highlight to make a home more attractive to buyers.

Related: Real estate definition (with types and investment tips)

Event planning

Event planners also use lookbooks to demonstrate their work, attract new customers and gain exposure for their events. They make lookbooks to promote their events or services, which helps distinguish them from their competitors. A lookbook is also a great way for event planners to show off the types of events they've previously hosted and what kind of experiences they currently offer clients. Lookbooks are also useful for companies that want to increase their brand awareness and build a better reputation in the industry.

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