The Curse Of The Lookbook

Written By bryanboy

I can’t stand lookbooks. I can’t. They come very handy on a retail level. You know, you go inside a store to browse merchandise or sift through a brand’s latest offerings from the lookbook on the counter. But other than that, they’re a big no-no.

I often find myself throwing away countless of paper lookbooks from different designers and brands. I proactively (and politely) refuse taking them with me. Sure, leafing through something tactile and tangible helps fully visualize a brand’s vision or point of view but really, I just find it wasteful more than helpful.

I don’t usually take goodie bags but at a recent event I attended, a publicist insisted that a fellow blogging colleague and I take one in spite of our refusals. To spare ourselves further talk, we took one each before going to my hotel room for a night cap. Lo and behold there are not just one but several paper (very expensive paper) lookbooks inside. I asked my friend what was she going to do with them and she asked me where the trash can was. “If I need images, I can just go to their website,” she said.

In this digital era we live and work in, everything should be easily available online — images, press releases, information, etc.

It makes no sense carrying twenty pounds worth of paper with you when you’re already fighting tooth and nail with airline check-in staff to avoid those pesky and dreadful excess charges TO and FROM a trip.

I had the final straw not too long ago after receiving a press packet from a company touting “eco-friendly” bags. They unsolicitedly gifted me a sample, a canvas bag wrapped in plastic bag, inside a fancy cardboard box, with — yes you guessed it — a paper lookbook of all their other eco-friendly bags. I cannot help but wonder what drugs they took.

What’s wrong with sending a press release, via email, with a link to a downloadable, PDF lookbook? Don’t email huge file attachments; send a link instead! For those who insist on wanting something tangible, why not send a cool USB stick with images or PDF files inside them?

I think it’s about time for lookbooks to go digital.

Just think of the trees people, just think of the trees.


  1. very intuitive. yea i totally agree with you, digital era. all the PRs should heed your advice! lookbooks just look nice and are NOT eco-friendly. even at retail level, they could have a projection screen or computer display of a digital lookbook, works as well?

    magazines are totally/slightly different of course. what’s your view on that BB?

  2. Cindy Ha

    I couldn’t agree with you more! On the same vein, invitations to Fashion Week Shows should also go digital too. I always cringe when I have to throw away fancy, expensive, and beautiful invitations at the end of each season. Most of the time, I can’t throw them out and try to repurpose them as hand made Thank You/ Birthday cards. But yes, think of the trees please!

  3. OR having digital lookbooks on site where you can upload it onto your usb!
    there are never-ending possibilities for retailers to go green yet the use of paper (in gift bags and lookbooks) is so excessive I’m not sure when the greater world will ever learn.

  4. you know, here in norway, most companies are fully digital. worst case you get a CD. of course, the amateurs still do the paper versions!

  5. I couldn’t agree more!!!I think that going will bring companies or brands to a level that is more appealing to todays generation. Also, it could be a very wise way for those same companies and brands to save money, plus it’s a lot less of a hassle for us to deal with

  6. WOW. After years of hearing of Bryan Boy be it in Teen Vogue or on Fashion Toast, I finally made my way to this blog. Very first post I have read from you and I am already hooked. Go Bryan Boy.

  7. love the idea of the cute usb! there should be an app for lookbooks as well…oh and there you go lookbook on the go on my iPad…innovate people INNOVATE!

  8. I love this post. straight forward, astute and amusing – – – and SO RIGHT!!


    (but i must confess…. i’ve always loved fancy pages. I used to choose books as a little girl always always by the texture of the pages inside!! (fyi – beatrix potter books were always my #1s – i still remember those slick white shiny pictured-up pages….DELICIOUS!!! <3 LOL) :)

  9. Denise Horton

    Which online retailers have the best digital lookbooks in your opinion?

  10. Well, if the lookbooks in question are for forgettable crap then yeah. But I´d like to collect all the glossy & gorgeous Lanvin lookbooks for my bookshelf to keep. I´ll pay you the postage to ship them to me! :)

  11. You make such a great point. I hate throwing away my lookbooks simply because I can’t stand the thought of so many trees dying in vain. I refuse shopping bags as often as I can when buying from different departments in the same store. You’ve made such an impact on the world of fashion, and I hope this shows too.

  12. Jason Barnes

    I have to disagree darling. I think you’re missing the luxury that comes with a paper lookbook. Everything is digital today. We are in the digital age. Yet it is the details such as those gorgeous paper books that keeps a certain pedigree that pertains to fashion and its roots. I love this time with a new phone everyday, haute couture that represents robot deities, but at the same time, one glitch and its gone forever. Not like with books; the journey that a bok can take can last for centuries. That even includes fashion plates from the 1700’s that were the first lookbooks my dearest boy. Give it a second thought :)

  13. everything can’t be digital. Interesting point though. What happens when a customer uses the lookbook?

  14. A lookbook / invitation by mail, which you can not hold with your hands, feels more artificial imo. But I totally agree with you in an eco-frienly perspective.

  15. someone told me a while back that there are actually more trees now in the US than there were 500 years ago hence the trees are not so much the issue HOWEVER the waste and energy in putting together a paper lookbook is probably a bigger consideration.

    i think younger people are more open to receiving information digitally. i had a boss before who was in his 60s and he can’t take anything digital. i guess it all depends but i do prefer my info digital.

  16. A look book is like a corporate annual report, not interesting but it is a historical document of one year in the course of the history of the company.

    Look books are exactly that… the feel of the season to be remembered over time… browsed and savored for years to come, a path made for the brand. Those of you who have the benefit of receiving hundreds of look books treat them with the respect they require for the hours of labour involved at all levels of the brand.

  17. Steven Wright

    if only they had sexier glossy tablets we could have small LED look books, or an LED “look book” where we could download multiple users lookbooks

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