When it comes to looking like a reputable brand and impressing the pants off retailers, a killer look book is king. A look book is basically a visual representation of your brand, designs and the overall ‘lifestyle’ of your label. At it’s most basic, a look book should show off the designs being worn in everyday situations by models. But a look book can be used as a valuable piece of branding to really sell the lifestyle of your brand to potential customers and retailers.
If you have a look at any of your favourite t-shirt labels websites you’re likely to find a link to their look book, and it will more than likely be made up of a bunch of stylised photos of the designs being worn by models in different settings.
Why do I need to make a look book?
Technically, you don’t. You could rock up to meetings with potential retailers with a sweet looking line sheet and get your gear stocked. You could also build an awesome online store that showcases your designs beautifully. But a look book not only makes your brand look reputable, serious and professional – but it can also work to really instil your brands theme and ‘coolness’ to your target market.
In terms of retailers, having a look book to compliment your line sheet will give the store owner a real sense of your customer and hopefully show them that your gear suits their demographic to a tee…excuse the cheesy pun.
What should your look book look like?
Whether you decide to have your look book professionally printed and bound or compiled in a ring-bound folder is up to you. The one thing that is certain though is that you have to use a professional photographer. Now, this doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money. Ask around and you’re likely to find a friend or friend-of-a-friend who has photographic experience and is willing to help you out. You’ll also need models – again, I’m sure you know some good looking people who would be more than willing to share their beauty with you.
As I mentioned earlier, a killer look book does two things – it shows off your designs in their best light and it sells your overall brand to the public. To do these two things well you need to be keenly aware of both your target market and your overall branding. For example, if your line is geared towards rock climbers, you might shoot your models scaling mountains, training and doing other groupey-mountainy things – that way the images you take are going to speak directly to your customer and say “hey, those people are like me. That brand was made for me”.
The look book could consist of as many photos/pages as you like, but I would recommend keeping it to around the 5-10 mark. I would also recommend some subtle branding to really tie it all together, like watermarking each page/photo with your logo.
I’ve put together links to a few awesome look books for you to get some inspiration. Note how the images really sell the theme of the brand and give you a solid idea of the target market – take note of how the photos and the branding work together to speak directly to that market.
tip: you can also check on local college notice boards to find photography students and models who are willing to work with you.
When you’re starting out, budgets can be tight and you may not have enough in the bank to rock out a killer look book. Don’t panic. Like I said, you don’t technically need a look book – but it is something I would definitely recommend saving up and having made. It really does give a whole new level of legitimacy to your brand and shows you’re serious and in the business for the long haul. That can really push customers and retailers towards you.
As a final note, when it comes to making your look book – have fun with it. You’ll have models, photographers, helpers and all kinds of stuff happening and it’s all for you and your brand. It’s going to be one of those times when you can really sit back and see how far you’ve come.
As always, thanks for taking the time out to read this article and feel free to comment and share.