Traditionally, a lookbook functions as an extension of a brand; the choice of models, backdrop, stylist and photographer all play a key role in the brand’s story and how it develops. If executed well, a label eventually becomes synonymous to its lookbooks. For example, the youthful visuals shot by Willy Vanderperre for Raf Simons season after season have become distinctly recognizable. However, for big fashion houses and corporate brands (such as Dior or Nike), maintaining a consistent aesthetic is crucial to the brand’s heritage, not to mention tough approval processes from various personnels tend to water down innovative ideas. On the contrary, streetwear and DIY brands rooted in counter-culture are less bureaucratic and more free to experiment. The focus is still on creating a coherent look, but there’s more room to try out new concepts as they’re not trying to appeal to the masses. Such is the case for someone like Tyler the Creator whose brand is an extension of his shamelessly unpredictable character.
Some of today’s most unique and unconventional fashion labels may not be the most popular at first, yet their eventual acceptance is largely to do with the cosign of mainstream platforms. Low-fi and glitch art made its way from the early days of the internet, to Tumblr, before being adopted by street brands like C.E. and now adidas. This trickle-up effect is a recurring pattern which drives creativity forward. Below we put together a list of 10 unconventional ideas which may seem odd at first glance, but help rethink the standards of lookbooks.
Blackfist’s “Hurt So Good” Released on Pornhub (NSFW)
Probably one of the more controversial items on the list, this one comes to us from former model Bradley Soileau’s brand, Blackfist. The video is his take on the ’80s thrash skate scene and film The Toxic Avenger. His choice to release it on Pornhub comes as no surprise, as he’s described his brand as being for those “who wake up every day and say, I want to be loud and angry, or, I want to get fucked, or, I don’t really give a shit what I look like…” Considering Pornhub is a site most wouldn’t admit to using, the choice to release a lookbook here may work to the brand’s detriment in terms of exposure, however it speaks volumes about what the brand itself stands for. Another name seen experimenting with the platform is FUCKTHEPOPULATION, which took things a step further with full uncensored porn. Naturally NSFW, it can be viewed here.
Been Trill and Pretty Puke’s 360 Experience
In Been Trill and Pretty Puke‘s collaboration with Coca-Cola, the director and photographer said he chose to shoot the lookbook the way he did because he felt “The 360 video is a byproduct of today’s culture. It represents the future, the millennial, the Tumblr kids.” Though 360 videos have been more popular in the music industry, they may soon become a regular format for fashion as well.
Hood By Air’s “Drone Portraits”
HBA has found a good balance in making a certain level of experimentation work in its favor, despite how popular it’s become. In the same stream as Been Trill and Pretty Puke’s 360 video, Hood By Air gives us another innovative approach to shooting, this time with drone technology. The result is quite subtle, and perhaps the technique would’ve gone unnoticed if the viewer didn’t know about it. Nonetheless, this lookbook is innovative because it paves the way for other brands to experiment with the possibilities of such a readily available form of technology.
Benny Gold’s Repurpose of Google Street View
Bay Area streetwear brand, Benny Gold took the practical aesthetic of Google Street View and appropriated it for its 2016 spring/summer lookbook. The photos charmingly recreate the blurred faces, uneven panoramas, and awkward candid moments of the tool to bring to life a day with SF skaters in a narrative. The aesthetic and concept of this lookbook are a bit unexpected for Benny Gold, however they definitely add to the brand’s quirky personality as its reminiscent of Tumblrs like these.
CLUB CANT TELL’s “COLLECTION 001 PART 1” Released on Snapchat
Travis Scott’s creative director, Corey Damon Black, debuted his clothing line CLUB CANT TELL earlier this year. The brand carries a sort of limited and temporary feel to it, as the clothing itself was released in small numbers, and the lookbook was published via Snapchat — making the only way it could be preserved was through screen shots. A provocative lookbook for a couple reasons; it made use of an unexpected platform, and the final result was not the polished studio aesthetic most are accustomed to.
Veneda Budny’s Self-Styled “The Selfie Stick”
Technically this one is more of an editorial than a lookbook, however it makes the list because like the CLUB CANT TELL example, this one delivers an unexpected yet accessible aesthetic. The photos totally remove the elements and preparation which go into a typical shoot — there is no professional photographer, no stylist other than the model, no location scouting, no studio and no retouching. It’s also completely democratic in its approach, considering anyone can shoot a lookbook this way.
Alternative Styling for ytinifninfinity
Ytinifninfinity (infinity spelled backwards then forwards) is an internet-influenced brand by 23-year-old Victor Barragan in New York. The brand’s ready-to-wear lookbook makes the list for a couple reasons; the styling and the mood shots. Where a lookbook is usually styled in a way that highlights a piece of clothing’s best features, Barragan has styled his photos with complete disregard for this. Instead, the designer has opted to tape his shirts to his model’s chest, have his jackets worn upside-down, and purposely dirty his shoes before shooting them. As for mood shots, most brands are seen peppering atmospheric architecture or landscape images throughout their lookbooks. Barragan’s approach to this is quite different, however. Coming from both a weird and playful place in his mind, he has placed images of pierced food, and irrelevant tech alongside the fashion shots. Whether you get it or not, it definitely makes a statement about the conventions of fashion.
Garbstore Poses ”Face/Off”
Facelessness in fashion is nothing new. It’s seen in online forums as well as professional shoots – either as a style choice, or a budget issue if the model’s face doesn’t totally fit a theme. Garbstore‘s lookbook for Palace, Brain Dead and Say Hello however, plays with this idea in an almost satiracle way. The clothes are ridiculously styled backwards, and tied around the model’s face, while the poses are for the most part very unnatural. Whether it was Garbstore’s intention or not, this lookbook makes a comment on the seriousness of lookbooks.
Lui’s Kitschy Still-Cuts
Japanese brand Lui’s, shot their 2015 spring/summer lookbook in a quirky still-cut style. The final product is a kitschy, up-beat video you can’t look away from. Though not particularly experimental in styling and setting, the lookbook does raise a bar for the conceptual possibilities when collaborating with a good director.
HIDDEN CHARACTERS’ ”The Duality Of Man” Swamps Models For Figurines
HIDDEN CHARACTERS delivered a highly art directed lookbook for their 2016 spring/summer collection. Unlike most lookbooks, the Duality of Man series features a dark narrative, one which visualizes the necessary evils a man must endure as part of a secret society. The choice of using hand-sculpted figures rather than live models ironically adds a juvenile element to an otherwise heavy story. An incredibly thought-out lookbook, this one achieves a new level of art direction and shows the possibility of a world without models.