How to create a brilliant moodboard: Five expert tips

I love creating moodboards – in fact, I remember the first one I put together. It was the early 1990s and I was obsessed with those iconic black and white Calvin Klein adverts. They weren’t picture perfect – Kate Moss had ill posture, the male models were not physically flawless – but it was a very authentic campaign. I tore out every tear sheet featuring it and literally covered my room.

As a designer, menswear editor and creative consultant, I still create moodboards every season. Having something visually in front me helps provoke and stimulate thoughts – they’re an essential part of my process. And this is how I put them together…

1. I begin by planning concepts at the start of the season. These tend to be quite high level, ethereal and based on non-fashion drivers. In fact, often they are around socio-economic events or innovations that don’t follow fashion. For example, at WGSN one of our big concepts is “Edgelands” – the notion that people are leaving cities for smaller places or the periphery. We translate this social shift and analyse the impact on fashion and trend.

wgsn moodboard

2. I divide the concept into two smaller trends, usually by figuring out what would work for the mens and young mens markets. Each trend should be able to stand on its own – it should be very distinct and you should be able to see that, without question, in your moodboards.

3. I take it offline. Your eye has a much bigger scope than your computer screen and there is something romantic about having something tangible to move around. The vastness of the internet is something I definitely take advantage of, but with moodboards I find it helps to be able to stand back and look at them.

wgsn moodboard

4. For me it’s all about research. You should never be afraid to dive deep and get lost – your best moodboards will result in starting with an open mind. This is important: don’t start having already decided the end result. You’re on a journey but you shouldn’t know the destination. Personally, I love Japanese magazines and my bookmark of Tumblrs is about three miles long. Look at art and fashion. A moodboard I just created includes some amazing imagery of tiles – I want to relate that to laser burnout.

5. How do you know when it’s finished? Unfortunately there’s no solid answer – you just know when you’ve got it right. Until that point, it simply looks like something is missing.

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MORE: Want to know more about Edgelands, one of our key forecasts for S/S 17? Subscribers can see every report here.

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