Catalogs Design

What is the Difference Between Lookbooks and Fashion Catalogs?

Fashion catalogs and lookbooks might seem similar when flipping through the pages, but they serve very different purposes. A catalog is like a detailed product list, designed to drive direct sales. A lookbook, on the other hand, focuses on inspiration and brand style. Lookbooks inspire, catalogs sell. Let’s get into the main differences between lookbooks and fashion catalogs to understand the strengths of each format and learn some design tips along the way. 

What is a Lookbook?

A lookbook is your brand’s visual mood board. It promotes your latest collection in a way that inspires customers and tells your brand’s story through curated imagery and styling. Think of it as a fashion magazine specifically tailored to your product line. 

A fashion lookbook is more than a catalog, it’s an experience. Large, vibrant images showcasing exquisite gowns fill the pages. The focus is on the beauty of the designs – the luxurious fabrics, the intricate details, the way they gracefully flow. Minimal text lets the gowns speak for themselves, creating a sense of artistry and aspiration.

For more information on how to create a lookbook, check out our blog: How to Make a Lookbook Blog.

What is a Fashion Catalog?

A fashion catalog has a complete list of products in a brand’s collection. It lists specifications that customers need to know like sizes, colors, materials, and pricing information to make it easy for customers to understand the product you’re selling and place an order. 

A fashion catalog is your essential guide to the latest styles. Browse detailed product images showcasing close-ups, color variations, and key features. Find everything you need to make informed choices: clear descriptions, sizing charts, material information, and more.

fashion catalog

For more information on how to create a captivating catalog, see our blog post: 4 Steps for Printing a Fashion Catalog for a Start-Up.

Lookbook vs. Catalog: Which Builds Your Brand Best?

A lookbook is the best choice if your products are highly visual, such as fashion, interior design, or jewelry. If your goal is to inspire customers with styling ideas, create an aesthetic mood, or share your brand’s style, lookbooks are going to be your go to. Since they focus on imagery and storytelling, detailed product specifications aren’t a necessity. 

On the other hand, if you have a large inventory, catalogs excel at displaying all your products with all the necessary details. Customers need information on sizes, materials, colors, and other specifications to make a purchase decision. If your primary focus is direct sales, catalogs are designed to make it easy for buyers to find what they need and order quickly. 

The Overview of Fashion Catalog and Lookbook Qualities

fashion catalog

Catalog Overview

Think of catalogs as your product encyclopedia. They feature detailed descriptions, clear images, and always list prices.

Catalogs are great for specific industries like…

  • Fashion / Apparel
  • Home Decor
  • Mechanical / Industrial
  • Beauty
  • Jewelry / Accessories
  • Food / Beverage
  • Pets
  • Toys

Lookbook Overview

Lookbooks showcase your brand’s style through stunning, large-scale photos. They use minimal text, avoid listing prices, and prioritize artistic imagery that evokes a mood and tells a visual story.

Lookbooks are perfect for industries like…

  • Fashion / Apparel
  • Architecture
  • Design
  • Sports
  • Home Decor
  • Accessories
  • And more!

How to Make a Fashion Catalog or Lookbook

Not sure whether a fashion catalog or lookbook is right for you? Learn how to choose the right format, craft compelling visuals, and create a layout that captivates your audience.


When you take photos for your fashion catalog or lookbook, remember that each serves a different purpose. Here are some photographer tips to keep in mind.  

For catalogs, shoot products in realistic settings and show how their functionality fits into the daily routines of you customers. 

Images for a lookbook should share your brand’s story through high-quality photos that grab attention and draw in customers. 

For crisp, clear fashion catalogs and lookbooks, always use images with at least 300 DPI (dots per inch). It is ideal to get the raw files and avoid using compressed images from websites, social media, or emails. If you don’t have the originals, ask your photographer to share them via a file-sharing service like Google Drive or WeTransfer. 


When customers receive a catalog in the mail, they’re looking for info that can help them decide if the product is a good fit to their lifestyle. Provide clear product descriptions, pricing, item numbers, and feature the key benefits of each product. Think of what you would want to see as the customer. You could include limited-time promotions or bundle deals to encourage purchases from your catalog. 

If you’re designing a lookbook, focus on stunning visuals. A collection title is fine but skip product descriptions and prices. If you need detailed information, you’re probably creating a catalog instead. 


The most popular binding options for fashion catalogs and lookbooks are saddle stitch and perfect bound books. Saddle stitch is affordable and works best for shorter publications between 8 to 96 pages. Perfect bound gives you a sleek, square spine. Your pages are glued together with a cover, making it ideal for thicker publications from 28 pages up to 2inches thick. 


When you start designing your catalog layout, prioritize balance, white space, and easy navigation. Balance images and text carefully to avoid clutter.

To plan for a cohesive and uniform lookbook, take a step back and consider the overall theme and flow. Create sketches of how you want it to look and how it should entice and guide the viewer through each section. For more information on graphic design for a catalog, see our catalog design blog.

Design for Print

When designing a lookbook or fashion catalog for print, always use CMYK color mode to ensure your images and file settings are optimized for high-quality output. When creating your print-ready PDF, set up bleed and trim areas within your design document. Bleed ensures your images extend to the edge of the page after trimming. 

Here at PrintingCenterUSA we offer free downloadable Adobe templates for your next fashion catalog or lookbook. Don’t have Adobe products? Don’t worry! Use our catalog or lookbook free online design tool to get a jump start. 

If you need more information on how to make your file print-ready, check out our blog post: Learn More.

Creating Your Fashion Catalog or Lookbook with

We pride ourselves on our top-notch customer service team and satisfaction guarantee. So, whether you decide to make a catalog or a lookbook, you will get a high-quality print from PrintingCenterUSA no matter what! 

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