Friday, 22 April 2011

Fashion + Design: A Design Story – The Making of Sweaty Betty Everyday Lookbook 2010


Graphic Design is about the creative process, from concept to production, it needs enormous of attention in details and planning. Since I haven't posted for a long time, I thought to share a design story and a bit of behind the scene with you. Let's travel back in time to August 2010...

I never realised fitness has such an important and significant role in my life until two summers ago. I've been a loyal Sweaty Betty member for quite a long time now, I pay weekly pilgrimage to their Circuit, Yoga and Pilate in-store classes. Last year, whilst I was casually shopping on their website, I noticed they were hiring for a Senior Graphic Designer – a perfect job for me!!

I lack fashion graphic design experience and to stand out from my competitors, I've decided to go the extra mile. I always have to rush to their classes after work, not giving too much time to change, so I usually incorporate my exercising gear into my workwear on exercise days. The girls at Sweaty Betty always asked me "how do you manage to look great coming here straight from work, work out, and go out afterwards?" This has inspired me to produce an everyday lookbook to illustrate my passion in fashion, understanding their brand and their philosophy, and of course, my skills in graphic design.

The challenge
This project had a very tight time frame and resources are limited – from concept to finished production, I managed to complete all this in just 5 days!

SS10-SBLB-Outfit Layout
Outfit Testsheet & Bible for Photoshoot

Day One: The Concept
• Creative & Art Direction and Concept Development – A6 20pp perfect bound mini lookbook
• Pagination Layout – 6 Themes/12 Outfits
• Fashion styling & testshots
    The idea of this Everyday Lookbook is an additional marketing material on top of its seasonal catalogue. This lookbook will be a great marketing campaign to encourage addition sales beyond customers who purchase Sweaty Betty merchandise only for exercising. I've gained significant knowledge of their target customers from observations whilst shopping and attending their weekly in-store classes throughout the years. I thought to create the "Sweaty Betty Girl" – a day in life, what would she be doing? What is her lifestyle?

    After some 48 outfits and over 96 combinations, I've nailed down to 12 outfits for the six lifestyle and exercise types.

    The six themes comprising:
    1. Something for the weekend – Boxercise
    2. Beyond the nine-to-five – Pilates
    3. Let's go shopping – Yoga
    4. A romantic date – Yoga
    5. Night out with the girls – Dance
    6. Art gallery opening – Running
    I needed to hold back on the styling from being too editorial looking, after all, this is an everyday lookbook. Creating this initial styling testshot was important for me to see what works and what doesn't. If you have eagle eyes, you will notice some accessories changes in the final lookbook.

    Printed sheets ready to create signatures
    Day Two: The Production
    • Research on bookbinding
    • Sourcing bookbinding, knitting & printing material
    • Gathering all materials/outfits needed for photoshoot
    • Copywriting 
      I have created numerous mock-ups during my education at Ontario Colledge of Art and Design (OCAD) despite I was majored in Packaging Design, surprisingly, there was never an opportunity to fabricate a perfect bound book. Many thanks to the internet and forum like Craftster and YouTube, I was able to learn sewing signatures and the art of bookbinding.

      I went to Shepherds Bookbinders (76 Southampton Row, London WC1B 4AR ☎ 020 7831 1151), for all the bookbinding materials. I show their staff and my printing material and they were very knowledgeable and helpful to advise me on ideas and materials I need for the project.

      Err... copywriting is my nightmare, I was never good at writing – I express visually. Actually, writing for this lookbook wasn't too difficult at all as it was mostly inspired from personal experiences.

      Running on the Broadwalk of Brighton
      Day Three: The Brighton Photoshoot 
      • Make-up & Hair
      • Train to Brighton
      • Location scouting
      • Photoshoot
      • Select testshot images & audience feedback

      I originally wanted to have the photoshoot around London Fields, Broadway Market and the Regent's Canal, after consulting with my friend Laura Kirkke (she's an amazing artisté, illustrator and photographer, check her out!) who photographed all images used in the lookbook, Brighton seems to be a more suitable location. This is a time I wish my sister was in London (she's a brilliant hair and makeup artist – check her out here). I had to set my hair, do my own make-up, packed all outfits and took the train down to Brighton.

      It was a sunny hot day in Brighton, we used Laura's studio as a base for changing the looks and re-styling on hair and make-up. We shoot both outdoors and inside the studio and managed to complete the shoot before dusk. Then we went through the entire film and highlighted the ones we've liked, burned images onto disk and I head back to London.

      Sample page layout from lookbook
      Day Four: The Design
      • Final decision on selecting images
      • Digital imaging & retouching photos where necessary
      • Design and layout of lookbook
      • Outwork for proofreading

      After collecting feedback on images, I finalised the images and retouched any where necessary. Finally, design layout time! The lookbook is finally coming together. Lastly, I sent to my journalist friend Zara for proofreading. Tomorrow will be finishing day.

      SS10-SBLB-FinishedProduct 1
      Finished perfect bound Lookbooks
      Day Five: The Finishing
      • Print production with home printer
      • Trim, score, sew & bind
      • Knit mini bag & sew on StayStylish label
      • Create digital lookbook where links products to website
      • Create application website

      I had to make a few copies of the book, for the purpose of testing, screw-ups and practising sewing signatures and the binding. In additional to the lookbook, I also knitted a mini version of the yoga bag I knitted featured in the lookbook. The lookbook will go into the knitted bag, complete with my little StayStylish label. To demonstrate my creativity in marketing, I have also created an interactive e-book, where one can click on the product and directly link to their website and purchase. Finally, to accompany to my application, I have also created a website where their HR department can download my covering letter, CV, link to e-book and online portfolio.

      SS10-SBLB-FinishedProduct 2
      Detailed look at the mini spines of the book
      Day Six: The Delivery
      • Finalise CV, covering letter, email application digitally
      • Travel across the city to deliver application package in person to head office

      SS10-SBLB-FinishedProduct 3
      Finished Lookbook with knitted bag

      Outcome & Experience 
      By going the extra mile, Sweaty Betty was very impressed with the hand bound lookbook and the amount of work I have put into, it was definitely the most creative job application they have ever received to date. This has landed me an interview, but unfortunately I was not hired for the job due to my portfolio being "too diverse" (I never understand why this is always a set back when I look for work in the UK!), "too corporate" and lack of fashion graphic design experience.

      It was heartbreaking that I didn't get the job. To add more to the injury, a fortnight after my submission, they held a streetstyle photo contest on Facebook where followers send in their photos of them mixing Sweaty Betty merchandise and streetwear! Since my submission, they have also started to create online catalogues similar to my e-book. Err!

      Despite all, I am very proud of this project: art direction, styling, hair & make-up, modelling, lookbook concept, design, production, finishing and copy were all done by myself. This not only makes a great portfolio piece and a design story, I fell in love with bookbinding.

      For testshots and more photos from this project, please see my Flickr set.

      Click here to view the final lookbook.

      What do you think? Have you ever gone the extra mile for an job application? How did it turned out? How do you protect your ideas?


      CallieK said...

      Can I just say they are idiots? That was a fantastic idea, love how it all came together and by stealing your ideas but not hiring the person who created them, they just proved that they have no vision at all.

      I hope you keep it in your portfolio in any case- there's bound to be some one who realizes how talented you are.

      Stylishly yours said...

      Thanks babe! Yes, it was totally heartbreaking not getting the job, especially when I also believe in their products. It's a shame!

      At least it satisfy my craving to be a stylist and to model again ;)

      bloggerkk said...

      I like this stunning Fashion Design
      Fashion Design And Beauty

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