biz tips :: creating a look book

MelanieKimmett_LookBook_July2012_3Mélanie from Pretty Paper Please is back today as part of our wholesale and consignment series to talk about the ins and outs of having a “lookbook”, how to create one, as well as weighing its importance. Catch part one, two, and three by clicking the links!To those of you who aren’t familiar with the concept of a lookbook, Wikipedia describes it as a “…collection of photographs compiled to show off a model, a photographer, a style, or a clothing line.”

If you’ve ever watched Tyra Banks’ Next Top Model series, you might remember the contestants were building their lookbooks with every new photoshoot, episode to episode.

In the fashion world, this particular lookbook is then brought around to meetings with potential clients, such as fashion labels, photographers or model agencies. These photos provide the model with a story or some context, helping the client imagine them in their clothing, future photoshoots or a new face at the agency.


No, there’s no disputing that the term “lookbook” is deeply rooted in the fashion world. But in the last several years many other industries have adopted its concept and applied it to their own needs. After all, we all have a story to tell. And in this crowded, advertised world we live in, it’s important those of us with our own product lines provide some context into what makes us special, and help us stand out amongst our competitors.

In any great story, the storyteller wants to create a feeling, a setting. They’ll have characters, scenes and some sort of dialogue. The storyteller may want to speak to their audience in a way that is relatable and real or maybe create a whole new dialogue instead – anything that demands attention and garners them an audience. Using the lookbook format to tell your story through pointed-visuals (and some text) invites your audience into a romanticized world that is unique to you and your product line.


I planned, styled, photographed and designed my own lookbook last year and I’m currently working on this year’s new book as well. I’ve also been using (a digital publishing platform) to host my lookbook online. It’s much easier to email a link around then having to worry about the size of the attachment and risk having your email fall into a junk folder.

If you don’t feel as capable of designing, photographing or organizing your own lookbook, I’d advise approaching designers and/or photographers to help you in this area. If you’re going to invest your time in the development of a lookbook, you should probably be open to investing your money as well. Believe me, people appreciate and notice the effort when you’ve done it right.

As I’ve previously mentioned, it’s not imperative everyone with a product line create a lookbook, but it will certainly give you a professional edge when you finally approach prospective shops.

Context is key when you’re trying to reach a desired audience. You want your audience (including prospective shops) to imagine themselves in your world, and hopefully if all goes well, they’ll eventually invite you into theirs.

next week: Create your own Line Sheets + Product Catalogue

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Comments (3)

  1. Krista Gibbard

    I cannot thank you enough. I’m in the process of developing my own line, and I’ve found good information on the business side of things hard to come by. I follow these eagerly!