4 Steps for Printing a Fashion Catalog for a Start-up

Fashion has used catalogs since before the 15th century. Many royal families had small books of fabrics and ideas the women and men could choose for court. Today we use similar guides to assist buyers.

Marie Antoinette’s Catalog

 Fashion uses both the digital “flipbook” and the paper print method. Many companies prefer the digital method of sending, yet the industry still needs to print some materials. I still know many buyers and store owners that like the print books for easy reference or photo lineups in the merchandise-planning phase. Some of these buyers plan in different methods.  Print catalogs also allow them to cut out images and build merchandising plans for the floor, or marketing plans for e-mail blasts and signage. Fashion Designers use them to inquire about current offerings and order possible samples.

In this blog you will learn the 4 considerations that a graphic designer uses to create print catalogs. Many of these tips can also be used for pitch deck printing and brochures to give to possible investors.

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Step 1: Concept of Book

Generally the color, print, and design of clothing are based out of trend boards and concepts. These same boards can be used to help articulate the theme of the collection. A graphic designer may want to ensure the proper font (simple) is chosen to match the theme.  Below is an example of a key trend site that sets direction for many large corporations. The aquatic image created the color values that a company used to design a collection with. The graphic designer will use similar approaches in creating the catalog.

If there is no theme, you are still okay. The Catalog builder found on the website allows the inexperienced user the ability to use brand photography and standard fonts for copy. This is also really useful if there is limited time to assemble a catalog. Click here to start creating.

Step 2: Color

Many beginners with limited graphic design knowledge can make big mistakes in the color area. Color has to values designers use for different reasons.

  • RGB: Use for websites, film, and monitor/TV visuals. This is rarely used in print media. Some colors in RGB are very vibrant, and oftentimes print out duller in CMYK.
  • CMYK: Use for print media, textiles, and etc. I recommend any design from the beginning is done in the CMYK color profile. This ensures the color will print accurately and the book will match the photos.

Online Design Tool

Below is an example of the color gamut for RGB & CMYK next to one another. You will notice the color ranges are less vibrant in the CMYK.

As a designer, I will have clients who want to use the RGB in print. If they want something really vibrant I will use various ways to convert one color to another. This allows me to achieve a closer match and still have the planned outcome with no surprises. It is always important to consult with the printer on color needs. For more details about color, click here.

Step 3: Photography

Quality Catalogs are dependent on good photography. This is something I have found start-ups don’t pay attention to. Some of the reasoning is fiscal, and other aspect is having an inexperienced team.

I believe a good photographer and model can shorten all processes the graphic designer needs accomplish. The retouch process is so much greater with a home camera or inexperienced photographer/model.

Good photographers should be able to provide the following

  1. Providing photos with a DPI of 300 or higher. RAW originals should also be available.
  2. They will also know how to shoot images that really accent the positives of an item. Directing model or product layout to be clean, perfect placement and etc.
  3. The color and lighting of the item will also look accurate.

If the images are good, it will be easier to assemble a selection for a catalog you may need to create on the fly.

The example below is an image that was shot in RAW, converted to 300 DPI JPEG and then reduced to a 72dpi. DPI refers to dots per inch.

Notice the clarity of details in the 300 dpi image. Small things like lace can be clearly represented. A buyer can see what the item truly looks like. The 72 DPI image doesn’t really show the detail. It looks blurry and colors seem to bleed together. Keep in mind that if an image is shot in poor quality, there is very little that can be done to increase the quality. If you spend the money, make sure your chosen photographer has all these aspects built into the contract.

STEP 4: Layout & Volume

As a designer I use Indesign to create catalogs. I am able to create spaces for every piece of copy, and creative elements. Indesign also keeps the alignment and justification balanced. The presentation also represents the level of quality the brand wants to showcase. Printing Center USA templates can be downloaded here.

Being able to have a printing partner that can offer various robust options, quick delivery, and have reasonable pricing is invaluable for any start-up or company.  PrintingCenterUSA  has delivery services that reduce the amount of work a start-up faces.

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