March 25, 2023

How to create a fashion lookbook: a fashion designers guide

Theren Moodley
Theren Moodley
Co-Founder
A decade's worth of fashion experience across; product design, development, sourcing & logistics

A fashion lookbook is the next stage in the design process, one step after research and mood boarding 🖼️

It's where the color palette design ideas, fabric swatches, sketches, images, and clothing inspiration of the moodboard are refined and organized to present a new collection catalog to clients.

Clothes, handbags, graphic elements, accessories, as well as more inspiration, the graphic elements used in the fashion lookbook all help convey the brand's emotional connection to it's target market and potential customers.

Whether a digital lookbook or printed lookbook, for clothing brands and designers it's a key milestone in the product development process.

In this blog, we'll share insights from our textile design community to explain:

  • How to create a fashion lookbook
  • The role of the lookbook in the design process
  • Key elements of the fashion lookbook
  • Fashion lookbook examples

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Blazer jacket, fabric, sketch, color palette in lookbook example on make the dot
Fashion lookbook I created for FW23

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Discover more below 👇🏽

📜 Creating a Fashion Design Lookbook: Step-by-Step Guide

First up, our community member and fashion insider, Ish will take you through the fashion lookbook process.

If moodboarding is stage one in the process, creating a fashion lookbook is two. It contains more quality images, additional accessories, maybe models as well as more inspiring content. A consitent quality theme throughout is key for me.

Step 1: Define the Concept and Theme

The concept, lookbook design inspiration, and theme of the fashion lookbook links directly to the overall world of the brand and clothing line.

It's the starting point in the design journey that will eventually become a full clothing line collection.

So it's crucial to keep the brand guidelines in mind when deciding the overall theme.

A few things a fashion designer should consider in this part of the process:

  • Design ideas and the latest trends
  • Example photographs or images as inspiration
  • Style elements and design story of the project

From moodboard to fashion lookbook, for the fashion industry, a consistent design theme and what inspired the collection begins here.

Sarah from Nike will explain more

For our cities collection one season we all visited cities around the world to take photographs and take in the vibe. We then had to design products that represented the key themes of those cities, as well as our core values.

Step 2: Create your moodboard

We've written extensively about the mood board inspiration and creation process, from how to create a fashion mood board for summer 23, to the challenges designers face.

In summary creating a moodboard involves:

  • Finding the style inspiration and images online and offline
  • Adding and organizing that content on a moodboard
  • Presenting that inspiration and brand style visually

Moodboarding is the next stage of lookbook design inspiration, explaining what inspired the new collection.

Fashion designers will add photographs, fabric swatches, and color palettes to their mood boards, visually building up the story and style of the collection.

Of the 500+ textile designers in our community, mood boarding is their favorite part of the process.

A place to stay up to date with the fashion industry and latest trends, maximize their visual creativity, and model how that inspiration for the clothing line may come together.

Step 3: Bringing together the fashion lookbook

Whether a digital lookbook or printed lookbook is chosen, the last step involves turning the moodboard content into a coherent branded fashion lookbook.

It will contain:

  • Organization of the content into neat, clean sections
  • Tips on the page or website on how to style outfits within the collection
  • Styling direction reflecting the overall brand identity
  • Content explaining each item or style choice in the collection
  • A consistent color palette, typography, and design
  • Photos of sample shoots with models

Some designers and stylists may also include:

  • Shop sales
  • Technical stats
  • Showcase products
  • Product descriptions of the brand

All within the lookbook design.

I've also added some fashion lookbooks examples later on in the blog.

⛓️ The difference between a moodboard and a fashion lookbook

Although used interchangeably there are noticeable differences between fashion lookbooks and mood boards that are important to understand.

  • Moodboards - This is an earlier stage of the design process and contains lots more ideas and inspiration, while fashion designers or stylists are building up the ideas for the collection. They are used almost always internally.
  • Fashion lookbooks - These are more visually appealing, are built on a simple background or white background, and are an organized collection of the key concepts from the moodboard. Used externally with customers their aim is to increase sales and can be used in a magazine, website, or shop. Lookbooks, therefore tend to be more versatile for a brand.

As sales of most fashion pieces today are the result of online business, increasingly digital is the method of choice for creators.

Digital fashion lookbooks examples, much like digital moodboards are the chance for brands to share their lookbook design with the world.

Customers the world over are able to potentially purchase their clothes designs on one page, instantly.

Speaking of digital, check out our blog on the best digital products for the moodboard process.

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Moodboard example on make the dot for color palettes and dystopian future inspiratione
Moodboards are more chaotic and focused on themes and vibes

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Checkout the sample moodboard I made here

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💡 The Importance of a Fashion Lookbook

The lookbook design helps create a model beauty to visual identity and communicate the creative message of the brand in an appealing and structured way to its customers.

Similar to a storyboard in animation, digital lookbooks are a prime example of visual storytelling through written and visual content.

Brands will use looks in a number of ways.

  • A catalog to sell directly to wholesale customers such as department stores
  • As an advertisement in a magazine
  • As marketing or PR assets for social media and websites

Whether in digital form as a digital lookbook, or physical it's a versatile key asset for brands to promote their collection.

🔧 Best Practices for a Fashion Lookbook

A few things to keep in mind in your lookbook design:

  • Ensure the lookbook design has a clear theme that aligns with the brand's message
  • Create a mood board that brings to life the design story with key elements
  • Use the best online mood board maker or digital lookbook creator
  • Keep in mind distribution and prospective virality when creating the fashion lookbook
  • Be concise, clear, and deliberate in the quality and what is created

Finally, next up some fashion lookbook examples, you can use in your next fashion lookbook.

🖼️ Fashion lookbook example

Check out an example digital lookbook I created for a 2023 New World Vibe theme.

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New world vibe collection fashion lookbook SS23
New world vibe lookbook for SS23

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Have a look at more lookbook design inspiration and examples here on Behance, Pinterest, and Dribble.

Have an example physical or digital lookbook you'd like to share?

What's your favorite lookbook design?

What's your next lookbook gonna contain?

Will it be physical or digital?

Hit us up.

✌🏽 Conclusion

A branded fashion lookbook or design lookbook is a powerful tool for showcasing the latest fashion trends, styles, and designs.

It distills the brand's creative workflow and visual identity of a collection in a way that is more structured than a moodboard.

It's the next step in the process, providing a product catalog for sales, marketing and branding for a fashion brand.

Having the correct theme from the start, and keeping that. brand guidelines and identity are crucial elements that separate good, from bad fashion lookbooks.

Like our topic on lookbooks?

Checkout our other topics on moodboards and the fashion design process.

🙋🏽‍♀️ FAQs

Q1. What is the purpose of a fashion design lookbook?

A. The purpose of a fashion design lookbook is to showcase the latest fashion trends, styles latest trends, and designs within a design collection while creating a strong visual identity for the brand.

It can be used to sell directly to brand whole customers such as department stores, or in online websites, advertising, or magazines.

Q2. What are the key elements of a fashion design lookbook?

  • Organization of the content into neat, clean sections
  • Tips on the page or website on how to style outfits within the collection
  • Styling direction reflecting the overall brand identity
  • Content explaining each item or style choice in the collection
  • A consistent color palette, typography and design
  • Photos of sample shoots from a professional photographer

Some designers and stylists may also include:

  • Shop sales
  • Technical stats
  • Showcase products
  • Product descriptions of the brand

Q3. How do you create a successful fashion design lookbook?

  1. Create the concept and themes making sure it's consistent throughout the process
  2. Build a mood board with fabric swatches, color palettes, and sources of inspiration
  3. Organize and distill the key content in that mood board, adding actual collection photos, style suggestions and text explanations to create the fashion design lookbook

Q4. What's the difference between a moodboard and lookbook?

  • Moodboards - This is an earlier stage of the design process and contains lots more ideas and inspiration, while fashion designers or stylists are building up the ideas for the collection. They are used almost always internally.
  • Fashion lookbooks - These are more visually appealing, are built on a simple background or white background, and are an organized collection of the key concepts from the moodboard. Used externally with customers their aim is to increase sales and can be used in a magazine, website, or shop. Lookbooks, therefore tend to be more versatile for a brand.

Q5. How can a fashion design lookbook benefit a brand?

A. The lookbook design helps create a model visual identity to communicate the creative message of the brand in a visually appealing and structured way to its customers.

Similar to a storyboard in animation, lookbooks are a prime example of visual storytelling through written and visual content.

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