Apparel Entrepreneurship How To Create A Mood Board


Mood boards are a great way to set the visual direction for a project, but they don’t need to be static PDFs anymore. Modern mood boards can include video, motion, or even sound. You can easily share them online with your clients and your team to get feedback. And instead of sitting in a folder gathering dust, they can stay flexible and can evolve.


What is a mood board?

A mood board is a visual summary of inspirational images, objects, material swatches, trims, or product examples that explain the concept and feeling of your brand, collection, or customer. It is basically a brain dump of whatever you are inspired by. The inspiration can be a topic, a place, a color scheme, a material story, or entirely functional, based on the activity of your customer. You can either do it on the computer or on a big hardboard. They don’t need to be boring PDFs, you can add videos and sounds, and they are easier to share with your team than if they are static and physical on a wall or a hardboard. I love to touch things and feel the textures, so a physical board or wall is my thing. Try both till you find your favorite way of working.


Why do you need a mood board?

Because this will make you stay consistent and focused on your brand values. You will have it “in your face,” and you will be reminded of where you are going. Before designing your garments, the images and objects on the board will help you steer in the right direction, design-wise.

When you are finished, make an edited digital version. It will serve as a fantastic communication tool, and it will keep your team on the same page as you. The mood board is a living document and should be changed season to season because like you, your brand will evolve. Regardless of the evolution, it should always be consistent with your values.


How to make a mood board

The quick and easy way would be to buy highly-priced trend forecasting books. I know you’re smarter than that and that you want to do things YOUR way. Otherwise, a significant risk is that your stuff will end up looking like somebody else’s because you have the same inspiration. Create your own universe, with your values and taste and make your individual trend forecasting.

Pinterest and Tumblr are fantastic online sources for pictures or just type your search word into google and see where that takes you. For more “live” inspiration go on a trip, go to galleries, exhibitions, the library or to a music festival. Buy fashion, design, and architecture magazines that catch your eye. Your board doesn’t necessarily have only to include garment pictures, it can be a modern architectural building, a beautiful sculpture, a vintage shoe, a breathtaking view, a specific film, a song, even a conversation.

You are writing down words that pop up in your head and put them on your board. For some people, words are more inspirational than images.

It is very easy to look at what other brands are doing and to pin pictures of referential garments. Give yourself a challenge, and DON’T include competitors products on your board.

You can also pin material swatches and trims you like. You can make small mock-ups for exciting design solutions. Pin anything that will evoke some sort of feeling. It could be a good idea to give your board a title, like a phrase or a name. This can be used in your marketing.

No matter how many pics and things you have on your board at the end, edit. The pics that don’t speak to you that much or that are not precisely on “topic” should be taken off the board. Consistency is key. Too many different things can give a messy impression. With time you will learn how to curate.

To make sure you are consistent in your head and not only on your board, present the mood board to a team member or a friend. Saying things out loud will force you to think what makes sense, and what doesn’t follow the red thread.

One more crucial thing: Have fun! This part, before the product development phase is essential and will dictate the tone of your collection. Give yourself a couple of weeks, don’t stress or force it, and trust the process. Take a step back, look at it from afar, and open your brain up for the input flow that it will give you. Take notes and even sketch if you get immediate ideas.


Now onto some tactics on how to create a mood board:

1. Decide your objective

What is it that you want to achieve? Do you want a “literal” board with exact colors, materials, fonts, or product pictures, or do you want an inspirational, vibe setting mood board? You could also start with one, the vibe and mood-setting one, and finish with the actual final one where you have edited and given OKed everything on it.


2. Think about a direction

Before you start pinning and selecting pictures and things, think about the direction of where you want this to go in. Do you want to go punk rock or free spirit? But what you shouldn’t do is be all over the place with your things on the board. Remember there should be a red thread and consistency on everything.


3. Big picture to detail

Add, for example, pics that set the space for your inspiration. What is the place for your product? Is it the beach, or a city? Then continue to add pics related to this topic. You set the tone and vibe of where your products will be used and add pictures and references that inspire you all the way down to details like a button, for example. Remember that the pictures you add can also be consistent in color to take the inspiration to the next level, or add color swatches directly.


4. Composition of the board

To indicate the importance of the pics you can work with size. The more important pics can be bigger and the less important ones a bit smaller. Add colors, fonts, materials swatches to create a balance. It should feel comfortable to the eye and remember, we see things from top left, to the right, then down left towards right. Like we read. You can also group related pictures for a stronger impact.


5. Add notes and sounds for more profound inspiration

Mood boards are more visual, but this can be highlighted by notes and sounds, even smells. 

Do put poems, or quotes on your board if you feel it helps you and strengthens your project. 

Do you have a particular song that you want to be connected to this project, then add it or play it. Do you have particular smells, add those too. Everything that increases your inspiration and takes you to that final “dream” helps.


6. Trust your intuition

You will know for sure what you like and what you don’t like. If something is NOT speaking to you, then don’t put it on the board. Make two piles if you have to, one that is 100% and one with 80%. The 100% you put on the boards, edit and see what happens. When you are done, take a look at your 80% pile and see if something from there should fit in better. 


7. Sleep on it

When you think you are done, you are not really done. You might have worked a lot on it, and you might also get tired of seeing it, but sleeping on it one night will give you a new different perspective. You will probably change some things or not, but at least, you will be more finished with one night’s sleep view. 


And finally, enjoy, this is one of the best parts about having your own brand, the playing, the dreaming, the visualizing, and the conceptualizing.