In our membership community, the Textile Design Lab, we will spend six weeks working on creating portfolio lookbooks. This course will begin March 11th and will include: a live presentation on using Canva, access to WGSN for trend research, a presentation on creating lookbooks with many examples, support through our discussion forums as members create their lookbooks, access to our huge design tutorial library, and will wrap with a live review on April 16th. So you might be asking…

What is a lookbook?

Lookbooks come from the world of fashion, where photos are compiled to showcase a model, photographer, stylist, or brand’s latest collection of work. I asked this question of MaryJane Mitchell, a talented designer and Lab teammate who is going to be leading our upcoming training on how to create a lookbook. MaryJane shared this definition written by Moni Omotoso,“ A fashion lookbook is a fashion catalogue of well-styled images that convey the essence of your brand through creative storytelling.”

I love this definition for two reasons.

  1. She mentions creative storytelling. In this competitive market storytelling is everything. The stories that you tell are a big way to set yourself apart from the competition and to create a deep connection with buyers and clients. Lookbooks go beyond a collage of our patterns and mockups; it’s an immersive experience that offers the buyer insight into our inspiration, our brand, and how the end user might feel when buying, using, or wearing our designs.
  2. She prefaced images with “well styled.” Similar to the process of creating trend boards, more is rarely better. It’s not about having the most images or having the largest lookbook. Creating a strong lookbook is about making the most impact with the least number of images.

Pattern Observer Studio Lookbook

Why are lookbooks important and what are the benefits?

As stated above, lookbooks are an important tool for designers who want to connect with buyers and communicate the vision that they have for their surface pattern or textile design collection. Lookbooks are just one communication tool available to us. Our websites, social media accounts, and products are other communication tools we have to use.

In addition to being an excellent communication tool, lookbooks are a fabulous way for you, as the designer and brand visionary, to explore a focused representation of your brand. We all know that our brand needs to be cohesive, clear, and easily recognizable. But bringing this focused vision to life on our social media or websites is quite the undertaking, which means it can feel restrictive and scary to a lot of people.

Lookbooks are very beneficial to those who are at the beginning stages of their business and are trying to find their niche. In this situation, a lookbook is a really great way to dip your toe into a brand identity and style. You can give yourself time to explore because a lookbook isn’t as permanent as what’s on your website. It’s a really focused private presentation. So, it’s a great opportunity to experiment with your brand style and see how it resonates with people. See how it feels for you as you put the lookbook together. I think it’s just a little less scary than creating a whole website around one specific look.

What to include in your lookbook?

Here’s a list of images that can be included in your lookbook, but the sky is the limit! Get creative and include images that are actually a part of your design process and representative of your brand.

  • Final prints
  • Mockups
  • Inspiration images
  • Sketches
  • Photos of your design process

Want to learn more?

Starting on Monday March 11th, the Textile Design Lab will embark on a six-week journey centered around the creation of lookbooks. Participants will gain complimentary access to WGSN, enabling them to delve into market and trend research, craft their own lookbooks, and receive constructive feedback and support via our exclusive forums.

Join MaryJane Mitchell on March 19th at 1 PM EDT for a 60 minute presentation and Q&A about creating lookbooks. This session will be recorded for those who cannot attend live and made available within the Lab. Over the following five weeks, members will dedicate their efforts to developing their lookbooks, with continuous guidance and feedback provided through our private forums. The program will wrap up in the second week of April with a live critique session of the lookbooks by MaryJane Mitchell on April 16th at 1pm EDT. By signing up for the Lab, you will be automatically enrolled in this comprehensive course.

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