A lookbook is a collection of beautifully styled photographs that shows off your clothing line. Done well, the book places your products in a real-life context, providing styling inspiration and helping shoppers envision the items in their closets. Whether you’re selling directly to customers or distributing your clothing to stores and websites, the lookbook is a valuable marketing tool.
Storyboarding Your Lookbook
When it comes to a clothing lookbook, a little planning can save a great deal of time and effort. Storyboarding ” laying out the visual sequence to tell a compelling story ” can help you get organized. To start, choose a theme to serve as the unifying focus for your lookbook; if your clothing line has a contemporary professional vibe, for example, you might use a “weekday city chic” theme. In this example, you might plan outfits for attending a board meeting, hailing a cab, reading on the subway, working late, and enjoying an after-work cocktail. Your storyboard can be as simple or as complex as you like, but it’s helpful to include a sketch of each page of the book, as well as notes about the pose, setting, props, clothing items, accessories, and hairstyles. Consider adding photos of individual items to make sure that the colors and textures work well together.
With the theme, outfits, and overall vibe in place, it’s time for model selection. Depending on your budget, you can work with an agency or find friends and family members to act as models. This choice depends entirely on your brand aesthetic ” if you design clothing for everyday wear, “real people” models in a variety of sizes and shapes can demonstrate how your pieces work on all body types. If you’re going for a more editorial, high-fashion look, however, professional models might be a better fit. As you choose models, do so with the specific outfits and settings from your storyboard in mind.
Staging the Lookbook
Before your models and photographer arrive, take time to set the scene for each page of your lookbook. Set up props in the studio or select a shooting location, and ask a friend to wear the correct outfit and stand in for the model. This process allows you to step back, examine each scene critically, and adjust the setup, outfit, props, or location. That way, you can make the most of the photographer’s and models’ expensive time on the day of the shoot. Take photos of your final staging choices so they’re easier to replicate later.
Working With a Photographer
A photographer can make or break your lookbook, so it’s important to find the right fit. If your goal is to maintain your existing branding and marketing aesthetic, your easiest option is to hire the person who shoots your clothing. Alternatively, try searching through portfolios of local photographers to find someone whose style matches your vision. It’s a good idea to meet with the person in advance to discuss your storyboard, set expectations, talk about editing, and establish a timeline. On the day of the shoot, you can help by bringing a shot list that includes all of the images you want to capture.
Distributing Your Lookbook
After you add captions and product names to the retouched images from the photographer, your lookbook is nearly complete. Digital publishing tools such as Issuu make it easy to design and embed the lookbook on your website, but a simple PDF can also work in a pinch ” from there, you can share via social media and email. For trade shows, consider working with a printer to create beautiful physical copies. Distributed effectively, a beautiful lookbook can be a valuable brand ambassador for your clothing line.