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  • Look Book vs. Fashion Catalog: Make the Perfect Choice

    look book icon
    Catalogs, Digital Printing

    Slick, full-color books, booklets or magazines that feature beautiful photographs showcasing products, clothing or designers called look books and fashion catalogs are staples in the fashion industry as well as many other product-oriented businesses.

    Businesses or designers use look books and fashion catalogs to connect with their potential customers with a very visual and artistic approach. But although a look book and a fashion catalog may sound like the same type of publication, each one is used for a specific purpose and has its own distinctive style that appeals to readers with a precise strategy.

    Fashion Industry Projects

    When fashion houses or designers want to get their products or designs in front of their customers, potential clients, or businesses, they craft a publication that is targeted at the specific clientele they are attempting to reach. These projects may be commercially available, or they may only be developed for the eyes of industry professionals, and sometimes they are also kept in-house.

    Both a look book and a fashion catalog use beautiful photography to present their content, but the layout, details, and text included in both kinds of publications support the particular purpose of each.

    Fashion Catalog Basics

    We’ve all received different types of catalogs in the mail or digitally at one time or another, including a commercial version of a fashion catalog. And the basic premise of a fashion catalog is similar to retail catalogs but with a few pointed differences.

    Fashion catalogs utilize full-color, creative photography to present designs, products, and the brand itself in a comprehensive book or booklet that compiles a season or a collection of items into one publication. The purpose of the catalog is to present the entire brand of a designer along with all of the necessary details like sizing, product descriptions, and even pricing. Fashion catalogs will usually always include:

    • A bold, easy-to-read description of the details of each product that is uniform throughout the whole publication
    • A table of contents for quick reference to all of the types of products
    • Brand information that provides a vision for the collections presented
    • Catalogs include a mix of both small and large photographs of the products as well as some of the products being used or worn in the intended fashion as a selling feature
    • Pages contain a combination of both text and photographs throughout the catalog

    When to Create a Fashion Catalog

    Designers may choose to create fashion catalogs at the start of a new season, when they have created an additional product line or at any time they need to update their brand’s product listings. Since catalogs usually are created to present to wholesalers and clients that will be potentially purchasing the products from the business or designer, having an updated catalog is critical to the commercial success of a designer who solicits sales for their product lines.

    Some design houses or businesses create seasonal catalogs that focus on the brand’s offerings for an upcoming season while others choose to create one each year with a comprehensive presentation of everything in their collections. These catalogs act as both marketing and sales materials, so many creators make sure that theirs are up to date with their latest offerings and invest in photography and graphic elements to help increase the commercial success of their lines.

    What Is a Look Book?

    A look book is also a publication designed to showcase a brand’s products and designs, but the layout and structure of a look book are very different from a catalog. These books are not intended to be a complete presentation of a designer’s entire brand. Instead, these books are more likely to be created to tell the brand’s story or the current product line.

    A designer will use a curated selection of photographs, presented in a specific order and layout, to tell the story behind the design and the designer’s inspirations for the collection. These books contain mostly photographs rather than text and are intended to evoke emotion by presenting the brand’s aesthetic to the viewer. Look books help sell the brand image rather than presenting specific pieces or details like pricing or sizing of a product.

    How to Create a Look Book

    Because the purpose of look books is to present an image and sell a feeling or emotions around a brand, the first step in creating this type of book is to clarify the brand’s aesthetic. The way a designer presents its products in this kind of book should be in alignment with the brand as a whole, but each collection may present a unique perspective that the creators used as inspiration for that season’s collection.

    Once the book’s aesthetic is confirmed, photographic elements are created to tell the story of the collection to evoke certain feelings and ideas about the brand. Pages are laid out so that they are primarily visual, with minimal or no text on most pages.

    Since the book’s purpose is not to sell specific pieces but rather the brand and collection as a concept, product details are not necessarily used. Specifics like product or collection names might be included as a small description on a photograph rather than a featured element of the book.

    These books are then formatted with a lot of white space in order to draw attention to the designs themselves, and many times these books are extremely artistic in design, feeling more like a photographic journey than a catalog of designs. This kind of publication may also include a brand detail page so that interested buyers can get more information or receive a fashion catalog that includes product details.

    Who Should Create Look Books and Fashion Catalogs?

    These beautiful and functional books are key to the success of a variety of businesses.

    Catalogs are best suited for businesses that value pricing, product utility and volume over aesthetics.

    • Beauty products
    • Fashion and apparel
    • Food and beverage products
    • Home decor items
    • Mechanical or industrial products
    • Pet products
    • Toys and other items geared toward babies and children

    Look books are primarily visual publications, so brands that use them will typically be in industries that put a lot of emphasis on the type of customers a brand wants to attract.

    • Accessories like jewelry, purses and sunglasses
    • Architecture
    • Beauty products
    • Design
    • Fashion and apparel
    • Sports apparel

    Print Your Books

    The final step in presenting your collection is to partner with an experienced printer like Dazzle Printing so that your book’s excellent quality will show off your beautiful designs. Digital printing companies like Dazzle Printing make it easy to print small and large quantities of your fashion books, and you can reorder them in quantities as low as 25 books at a time when you need more because business is booming or you have new potential customers you want to impress.

    Look books and catalogs are excellent marketing and sales tools for all kinds of businesses, and creating and printing one that will help you grow your business is not complicated when you know who you will be making the book for and you partner with a trusted printing company who can bring your vision to life.


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