Perez Hilton may be your go-to guru for all the current celebrity fashion trends (and faux-pas), but where can we find out the latest street styles from everyday fashion enthusiasts around the world? The fashion blog LOOKBOOK.nu specifically targets these international trendsetters, which include high school students, aspiring designers and amateur photographers. LOOKBOOK.nu allows them to post images of their everyday outfits, which are then critiqued by other members according to originality, style and overall appeal.
Relatively unknown, the blog qualifies as one of the Internet’s undiscovered gems. (It has about 50,000 members, compared to Facebook’s over 400 million users). The site was founded in 2008 by San Franciscan Yuri Lee and has an invitation-only format. You can gain access to this “exclusive” site in one of two ways: 1) you track down a long-lost friend who happens to be a LOOKBOOK.nu member and ask them for a current invite code (they expire every month), or 2) you apply for a membership on your own. This entails being asked to submit a photo of your first “look,” a mini blurb addressing what you would bring to the community, and a link to your website/blog (optional), which the LOOKBOOK.nu staff use to assess whether you are “worthy” of a membership. The blog only encourages individuals to join if they will produce original and interesting submissions, stating on their website that they are not a “kiddie fashion site.” Moreover, the site enforces many rules, including the necessity for photographs to showcase the individual from head-to-toe, no obstructions to any of the clothes worn and no photos with multiple individuals. If any of these rules are ignored, your photos can be deleted, no matter how pretty they are.
Despite these restrictions, LOOKBOOK.nu is rapidly gaining exposure and popularity with the online fashion community. Overcoming these preliminary screening measures in order to obtain an account attracts many to the website as they seek the exhilaration of reading the “YOU’RE IN!” message.
Still, there’s no denying that acquiring the codes can be somewhat of a nuisance, especially if you don’t have any community contacts (some members go so far as to sell invite codes on eBay for ten bucks a pop). Thankfully, most people aren’t this lame and will often send out the codes on Facebook if you just ask. Sometimes codes are even lying around on discussion boards waiting to be found—it’s just a matter of looking in the right places to stumble across the magic password.
So what do you do once you’re part of the in crowd? You post a “look” and hope it becomes an instant hit. In the meantime, you do your duty as a LOOKBOOK.nu member and “hype” the photos that you love. When you hype a photo, it increases in popularity by one; the more hypes the picture receives, the higher its ranking becomes in the HOT section of the website.
A neat feature of the website is the LOOKBOOK interviews, in which influential members are acknowledged for their style and get a full-length interview about themselves posted on the website for other members to draw inspiration from.
The site, in conjunction with H&M, is advertising a contest (until March 17) called “The Blues,” in which members must post photos that feature eye-catching blue clothes or accessories. The winning looks will be featured on the H&M website for the fashion label’s spring collection, and the selected individuals will each receive a $150 gift card for H&M.
This past Valentine’s Day, LOOKBOOK.nu also served a humanitarian function as it donated ten cents to Haiti relief for every heart that was given to a photo (if you love a look, you give it a heart, which is one step up from giving it a hype). In the end, the Hearts for Haiti campaign managed to raise over $1500. LOOKBOOK.nu seems to be hitting all the spots. What are you waiting for, an invitation? All you need is a nerdboyfriend.