Fashion Moodboard: what it is and how to create an effective one

Article written by:
Corrado Manenti
Help us spread the word!
Share this article:

Table of Contents

Fashion Moodboard: some tips on what it is, why it is used and why it can be useful before you start creating a collection.

The moodboard is without a shadow of a doubt one of the most classic tools used at the beginning of every fashion collection. Here on Be A Designer it is definitely one of the most searched terms in our articles.

IN THIS ARTICLE WE ARE GOING TO SEE:

  1. Origin and definition of the term Moodboard

  2.  The Moodboard in the creative process with the Fashion Business Designer Canvas?

  3. Principles of moodboard construction

  4. Practical examples of moodboards in fashion

  5. Six tips to create an effective moodboard

  6. From moodboard to collection narrative concept

  7. Conclusion

Discovering the Moodboard

The term untranslatable into Italian wants to describe a physical space where we can group and put together ideas that will then help us to develop a collection.

As you well know if you are a designer, or as you can well imagine if you are approaching this world, the creative process in the design and subsequent creation of a fashion collection is long and changeable!

The best way to codify our inspiration in a tangible way and draw guidelines for the realisation of the collection is precisely the creation of one or more Moodboards.

 

Origin of the term

Let us start with the origin of the term: moodboard? which is in fact a translation from English: it consists of two words and could be literally translated into ? mood indeed ?mood? and board which means board, table, surface.

fashion moodboard - Fashion moodboard: what it is and how to create an effective one - 1

A moodboard is therefore a collection of images sometimes even physical objects that represent an atmosphere a feeling, an emotion, an imagery and our personal way of seeing the world.

The moodboard acts as a sort of filter through which we see reality and perceive it, the stimuli, the colours, the inspiration, so it is intimately connected to our emotionality, to the experiential sphere and is a fundamental element of the our brand narrative.

An effective moodboard is not only an artistic or creative expression but also a tool that underpins the stylistic consistency in a fashion collection: It defines, by means of a series of more or less allegorical or coded images, the concept or series of concepts that we intend to convey through our collection.

Even if you start from a well-defined inspiration, the initial artistic cue must be refined and well modelled, so as to defining guidelines and the concept behind the initial idea from any unnecessary digressions, which could lead to deviations from the emotion one wishes to convey.

The moodboard in the creative process with the fashion business designer canvas

If you don't know me yet, I am Corrado Manenti and in addition to being founder of BAD Be A Designer, I invented a method for building your fashion brand called FASHION BUSINESS DESIGNER. 

Like a real map, each time we delve into a concept we go to see where it appears on the canvas.

As you can see from the graphic below we are in the second dial dedicated to collection design i.e. the conception and design part of what will be your collection.

In my approach moodboards go hand in hand with storytelling to create what will be not only an emotional concept but a real narrative that will accompany us not only in the realisation of the products, but also in the communication!

[ If you are not familiar with the canvas and want to find out more, you can sign up for the Fashion Business Academy in the your private area and access the free video course where you will also find all the downloadable materials]

fashion moodboard - Fashion moodboard: what it is and how to create an effective one - 2

We need it to find the emotional thread

that will guide the creation of the

fashion moodboard - Fashion moodboard: what it is and how to create an effective one - 3

In my approach moodboards go hand in hand with storytelling to create what will be not only an emotional concept but a real narrative that will accompany us not only in the realisation of the products, but also in the communication!

WHAT COMES FIRST IS BRAND DESIGN

[I also talked about Brand Design in this article]

fashion moodboard - Fashion moodboard: what it is and how to create an effective one - 4

The intention of this first quadrant is therefore to give direction to the collection by pointing it in the right direction.  The purpose of a moodboard is similar to that of a container. It serves precisely to collect (in an orderly manner) in one place, usually a flat space or a wall various elements, fabrics, colours, to find the emotional thread which will guide the creation of the collection sketches.

Always remember that every tool we use always follows human psychology in fact from a cognitive point of view:

The main purpose in making a moodboard is to create a Gestalt? that is, a collection of different elements where the whole is more than the individual parts.

In simpler words, The images that make up the moodboard have a symbolic aspect, conveying a certain message to the viewer.

For example, the set of colours and intensity that the images contain, which will be the input for deciding the colour range that will make up the collection.

In addition to key colours, the fashion moodboard can contain photographic examples of finished garments as well as sketches of the garments that will form the collection. Through shapes, shadows and various figures. 

It is always good to define whether the collection will have stiff, strutting garments or soft draping, stretchy fits or oversized but firm fabrics, and so on.

fashion moodboard - Fashion moodboard: what it is and how to create an effective one - 5

How to make a moodboard

Composing the moodbord is an exercise that may seem simple, but care must be taken so that the result can be a useful tool.

The collage of images and concepts should not be too labyrinthine or vague, but harmonious and schematic.

fashion moodboard - Fashion moodboard: what it is and how to create an effective one - 6

Some thematic nuclei from which to build the moodboard

THE MOODBOARD STARTS WITH THE BRAND AND MUST RESPECT ITS ESSENCE

The moodboard must respect your brand essence, your communicative style, the founding values of your brand so it is always useful to rethink the work done in the BRAND DESIGN every time we make a new collection.

If you are on your first collection the problem is less because normally your brand values will be fresh in your mind, and your customer will not have a real point of comparison as your brand is just starting out. As we proceed with the collections we will always have to be mindful of our past choices and our brand values as creators. Consistency is what gives value to a brand:

Branding, which we always remember from the ancient Norse, from the Vikings who branded cattle to claim ownership.

We too must metaphorically 'brand our products' with our unique and recognisable style dictated by our brand. This is why the moodboard must always respect the essence!

THE MOODBOARD MUST BE IMMEDIATE AND EXPLICIT

The moodboard is the first step in making your idea tangible, so it must be easy to use:

a moodboard is not an intimate thing it is a working tool that you will have to share with the professionals who will help you realise your products, who will turn your idea into a prototype.

That is why it must be neither too heretical nor conceptual. The aim is to produce an emotion, a suggestion On a cerebral level, the time that passes between a visual stimulus (similarly to when we look at a painting in a museum) and an emotional response is almost instantaneous, only later does the rational part, linked to the experience and vision of the individual elements, come into play. We are only interested in the first response, the "skin response", which is why the moodboard is effective when it is immediate.

WE MUST CHOOSE A DOMINANT CONCEPT OR THEME

For this reason, the best way to study the composition of a moodboard is? choose a dominant conceptwhich will be the key image that catches the eye first and to which will be added a series of secondary images creating a sort of mini-story from which to build the concept of the collection.

THE MOODBOARD IS A DYNAMIC TOOL THAT MUST EVOLVE WITH YOUR CHOICES

The moodboard is a static but at the same time dynamic and constantly changing methodology, which is why I always suggest that the moodboard must be analogue and not digital. You will always have the opportunity to create a digital version to archive later, but being able to touch different fabrics, materials and see it hanging in front of your eyes will help a lot in the creation process.

As you add elements you will realise that some will not be consistent with the natural progression of the story we are telling and will have to be removed.

It can be useful to keep track of our progress in creating the moodboard by photographing it from time to time and then analysing how and why we changed it. As with all the materials we produce during the work in progress can provide interesting insights into our storytelling and creative process.

The whole collection design phase lends itself well to this (secondary) purpose of creating photographic, video, audio, written material that tells the story of our experience as creators. For this kind of content nobody expects it to be perfect, but must be authentic.

If you are on your first collection it will be even more important that the moodboard reflects our typical customer, it might also be a good idea to make a moodboard of our BUYERS PERSONAS and hang it next to our moodboard and ask ourselves from time to time: ?my typical customer would appreciate? ?would understand this choice? ? if he saw him right now what would he say?

The moodboard is a tool that allows a story to be told in imagesIt has to give an overview of how our brand and the collection will look and what feelings it will evoke.

That is why it is important that you have in mind TWO things:

fashion moodboard - Fashion moodboard: what it is and how to create an effective one - 7

What are your brand values

What is your stylistic code your unique way of doing things and giving value to clothes

Who will be your future customers

Always remember that you make fashion to dress others (who buy your creations) and we need to know who our customers will be and get inside their heads!

fashion moodboard - Fashion moodboard: what it is and how to create an effective one - 8

It must be kept in mind that the moodboard is not a static methodology but a dynamic and constantly changing one. to be effective it must be analogue and not digital.

You can make beautiful collages of ?virtual? images but they will never be as effective as hanging them on a wall, together with fabric scraps, assorted objects and so on.

Therefore, my advice is to find a free wall or plywood board on which to start creating our moodboard.

We have a colour printer, scissors, tape, and anything else we can use. More or less like the television programmes we watched as children!

fashion moodboard - Fashion moodboard: what it is and how to create an effective one - 9

The moodboard must be ?physical, analogue?

It is a dynamic tool that we are going to modify several times

I have identified 5 thematic cores around which you can first organise your 'collection' of material and then build your moodboard are:

  1. PLACES

  2. SENSATIONS

  3. INSPIRATION

  4. COLOURS

  5. MATERIALS

fashion moodboard - Fashion moodboard: what it is and how to create an effective one - 10

Example of a "virtual" moodboard? (just to give an idea it MUST be analogue)

Every single elementWhether it is a colour, a piece of fabric, a photo taken or a magazine cutout, it has to answer questions before being included in the set:

  1. Will it help communicate my brand message?

  2. Will it provoke a positive emotion in my customers, suggesting at once that it is about them and their world??

The images help us to understand what our collection will look like and feel like, as well as which colour combinations will make up the colour chart.

The advantage of having the moodboard hanging in front of us gives us the possibility to see it several times during the day and over time.

As you add elements you will realise that some will not be consistent with the natural progression of the story we are telling and will have to be removed.

fashion moodboard - Fashion moodboard: what it is and how to create an effective one - 11

Keep track of how your moodboard evolves over time

taking photographs at the end of each session

It can be useful to keep track of our progress in creating the moodboard by photographing it from time to time and then analysing how and why we changed it.

Remember also that like all materials we produce during the work in progress can provide interesting insights into our storytelling and creative process.

As well as giving us material to post on our socials.

The structure of the moodboard collage is personal and free, but what should unite the images (or the keywords that often appear in the moodboard to clarify and make it even easier to read), is that the moodboard should be a simple, clear and simple to read collage. harmony of styleOne image must communicate with the other as if they were two individuals from different countries speaking a common language.

They may chat, argue, sing and even quarrel with each other, but it is essential that the language they share complements each other.

Every single element, whether it is a colour, a piece of fabric, a photo taken or a magazine cut-out, before being inserted into the whole must answer the questions:

?Will it help communicate my brand message??, ?Will it provoke a positive emotion in my customers, suggesting at once that it is about them and their world??

Examples of moodboards for fashion?

Here you will find some examples of preliminary moodboards we made at Be A Designer for some of our customers with a description of a possible collection concept.

Example of a sportswear brand moodboard

fashion moodboard - Fashion moodboard: what it is and how to create an effective one - 12

Here, classic women's tennis dresses are reinterpreted with fluorescent geometric inserts that slim the silhouette. Stretchy recycled fabrics, in various weights and with different technical performances, are cleverly incorporated in the garments with the aim of supporting and protecting the breasts from sudden shocks and stresses, offering the best performance during sporting activity.

The garments are designed to last, guaranteeing a fit that perfectly follows the body's movements, even after numerous washes. Again in keeping with the brand's mission, we have included pockets and zips in the garments to carry objects (keys, gym card, mobile phone, balls, etc.) in order to guarantee maximum security for our personal belongings. You can see the complete project at: www.zancobel.com

Example of moodboard brand nightwear

fashion moodboard - Fashion moodboard: what it is and how to create an effective one - 13

Abundance, elaboration and complexity are the three key words that best summarise the vision of 18th century fashion influenced by the Rococo movement in its various artistic forms.

In this project we wanted to combine the sumptuous world of French Rococo with the practicality and essentiality of underwear and nightwear. You can see the complete project at: www.pellicanonightwear.com

6 practical tips for creating an effective moodboard

To conclude six tips to create an effective moodboard:

  1. Think about your brand and what your values are, your style code, every collection must start from a lowest common denominator that is YOU! If there is no link between your collections, if there is not something that makes them recognisable and traceable to you, you are NOT making fashion.

  2. Think about who your future customers will be, their values, their places, their colours imagine where you would like to see them dressed in your articles

  3. Think about the season of your collection, think about materials and colours, let yourself be inspired by everything around you, if possible go out with your camera and create your own inspirations

  4. If you can't take magazines, cut them out, play with shapes, the moodboard has to excite you first, the next step is to create a Concept, i.e. a story where the collection will be set, so you have to like it first.

  5. However, it must be in line with your customers, if you like it. and they don't like it, it will be difficult to sell!

  6. Hang the pictures, look at them from different distances, in different daylight, replace the ones you don't like, try shifting the position of the ones you don't like

 

What to do after the Moodboard?

From Moodboard to Collection Concept how we build and tell a story through our garments.

If our clothes did not have a IDENTITYif they did not have a COHERENCE each other and if they did not have a HISTORY we would only be talking about clothing and therefore we would not be doing fashion.

Many times when I ask a designer to tell me the story behind their garments I immediately see blank stares as if I have asked them something very strange!

It is also true that if you are on your first outing you may not think you have to tell a story because it almost automatically blends in with your creations and your value system.

If you are already an established brand with a few collections under your belt, you will certainly have noticed that each collection has its own story and narrative concept that encapsulates both the moodboard that it storytelling.

If there is not much doubt about how moodboards work, a subject we have explored many times in this article, we will see how they are almost the basis of a collection concept and how to build a story that will captivate our customers and be memorable.

When the time comes to go to market, such as with a presentation at an event or an actual launch, you will discover how essential it is to have a story to tell. This will be the basis of what will be our communication and our marketing.

fashion moodboard - Fashion moodboard: what it is and how to create an effective one - 14

Every story needs its HEROES

Even in our narration we must not be WE or OUR PRODUCTS but our customers!

History is the greatest weapon we have to combat confusion, because it organises information in such a way that people are forced to listen

Donald Miller [StoryBrand]

So what are the elements that make up a story? Let's find out together!

Each collection has its own HISTORY this revolves around three fundamental elements:

1) You as creator your world, what inspired you, your brand imagery

2) The elements of your collectiondesign and modelling choices, the materials you used

3) The Customer and how you relate to the first two elements

Obviously we will see how the heroes of the story will have to be our customers and NOT US o OUR BRAND / PRODUCTS

fashion moodboard - Fashion moodboard: what it is and how to create an effective one - 15

The creation of a fashion moodboard subsequently involves an explanationThe best way to maintain coherence between the moodboard and the collection is to make it clear what you wanted to express with that series of images and concepts. The best method to maintain coherence between the moodboard and the collection is to imagine telling a story through images and garments.

A bit like the paraphrase of a poem, which makes the narrative lose its musicality and rhythm but explains and synthesises its meaning, when creating a fashion collection, the need for the paraphrase is felt. written concept of the collection, a sort of 'paraphrase' of the moodboard, interpreting its visual allegories.

Of course, as with the creation of the moodboard, The concept does not require long-winded explanations, but is composed of a flowing and comprehensive description of what the collection wants to achieve in terms of conceptuality, silhouettes, and colours.

Many collections also aim to send a more or less strong social message. Fashion designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier, Vivienne Westwood and Miuccia Prada are often involved in campaigns to raise awareness of issues ranging from politics to war and ecology.

This is why it is essential clarify any possible doubts and conceptualise their purpose in wordswithout pedantry, attempting without pedantry to set a biting tone that would intrigue the interlocutor. 

Conclusion

There is no right or wrong way to make a moodboard, always remember that the whole is more than the individual parts, so it is always the overall view that will give you direction.

Show it to friends, colleagues and ask their opinion as if they were looking at a painting or a work of art. 

Try asking what emotions it conveys? Are they the same as you imagined?

If you have made a moodboard and want MY opinion leave a comment below this article! Did you like this article?

It is a long road from idea to market, and you also have to find the right angle of attack in which to position yourself among all your competitors. 

Because to succeed you have to sweat and fight, but most of this war is fought before you get on the battlefield (the market) and above all in the minds of our potential customers even before we make a single dress.

Now that you have all the tools to create a moodboard you will realise how making fashion is a very complex subject where every single element must work to achieve the final result!

For this you MUST ABSOLUTELY read my book:

"Do you also want to be a designer?" which explains all the steps before and after the moodboard and all the mistakes NOT to make while realising your collection!

Did you like this article? Leave me a comment below and share it on your social networks with everyone who might appreciate it! That's all from Corrado! See you next article!

Do you also want to be a designer but don't know where to start?

I wrote a best-selling manual which guides you through our method to start thinking about your fashion brand in the right way, avoid costly mistakes and give you the right priorities.

If you don't know where to start, this is the best way to begin!

It is available with a special offer to this page:

fashion moodboard - Fashion moodboard: what it is and how to create an effective one - 16
4 2 votes
Article Score
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
en_GBEnglish

Discover my new classroom course in Milan:

24-25 November and 6-7 December

Be A Desinger

Be A Desinger

Usually responds within 5 minutes

I will be back soon

Be A Desinger
? Hello and Welcome!
Do you have any questions you would like to ask me?
WhatsApp