What is Fashion Merchandising?
The fashion industry is one of the largest industries present, this is because there is a lot that goes on from the creation of designs by the manufacturers down to its acceptance by the final users. As such, there are several career paths available for various talents to explore.
Fashion merchandising works towards ensuring a manufacturer or retailer has the right products available at the right price, in the right places, at the right time and in the right quantities. Fashion merchandisers serve as a sort of bridge between the designers who want their products brought to the market, and the market (retailers and consumers), who want the trendiest items in fashion.
The entire purpose of fashion merchandise to both manufacturers and retailers is to sell at a profit. For this reason, a fashion merchandiser should have a passion for fashion and business for a start and understand how to predict and respond to customers’ wants in a way that will maximize business sales and increase revenue.
It is the responsibility of Fashion Merchandisers to predict fashion trends, plan and design store layouts, purchase apparel, and collaborate with designers to align with their customer’s taste.
Relevance to the Fashion Industry
Fashion merchandising at the manufacturing stage is needed to predict the significance of trends and preferences, estimating the consumer’s demand in terms of style, size, colour, and quantity.
Fashion merchandisers at this stage would work closely with designers in selecting the fabrics, designing the packaging, pricing, and sales promotion activities, ensuring that products are affordable to the target market while making a profit for the whole chain of departments involved in the product from manufacturing to sales.
For retail fashion merchandising, their job is more focused on forecasting trends their target market would want and when they would be in demand. They would be expected to predict consumer’s needs by considering past sales and understanding and predicting correctly the fashion trends that would be attractive to their target customers.
Fashion merchandising for retailers includes influencing the arrangement and display of products in both physical and online stores in a manner attractive to the consumers, as well as promotions and pricing that would result in target sales.
Skills Required in Fashion Merchandising
In addition to a love for fashion and personality traits such as time management, an eye for detail, and a positive work ethic, fashion merchandisers are also required to have the following skills:
- Strong communication skills: Several fashion merchandising roles require excellent communication skills. The work of Fashion merchandisers requires that they negotiate with designers, get marketing messages out to customers, to convince prospective buyers; all of these duties require effective communication skills.
- Forecasting Ability: Fashion merchandisers constantly research and observe past and current trends and try to predict the products and sizes that would be appealing to the target market while making a profit for their client. To make an accurate prediction, they must be very much aware of current industry developments.
- Analytical Ability: While making decisions and predictions to suit a target market, you must also determine how well things fit into existing budgets and whether they meet the needs of consumers. It is necessary you have skills to help analyze a complex set of issues, including the client’s sales history and brand image that may influence marketing strategies alongside other decisions.
- Vast Fashion Knowledge: Fashion merchandisers are expected to be well-versed in all aspects of fashion, from garment construction to textile types. This is to allow them to give an accurate prediction of what consumers want before they even step into the store, so the more knowledge about fashion, the better. Fashion merchandisers would likely frequent fashion shows and explore resources such as industry magazines and blogs to keep up to date with fashion trends.
Careers paths in fashion merchandising
There are several career paths for people who have a love for fashion and an eye for business to explore in fashion merchandising. In most cases, more than one person is involved in the entire process, with everyone focused on particular job responsibility.
Some of the career paths in Fashion Merchandising are:
- Visual Merchandising: This role requires creative individuals with great attention to detail. They develop visual merchandising strategies for storefronts, online stores, or catalogues. They are skilled with the creativity to determine point-of-sale displays, stands and panels for exhibition, attractive to capture the attention of customers, promote products and services of fashion businesses, and stay up to date with fashion trends. These artists earn around the range of $27,129 to $62,997 annually.
- Fashion Buyer: This role requires observing fashion trends and working with designers by attending trade shows and showrooms. It is important that people who work in this role, have vast fashion knowledge and a natural ability to predict fashion trends, possess strong negotiation skills, fashion industry savvy, and retail experience. It is common for fashion buyers to build experience by working as assistants first. Fashion Buyers typically earn between$58,532 to $115,348 annually, depending on their level of experience.
- Fashion Marketing: This role requires analytical skills to assist in forecasting and making strategic recommendations for product marketing, using customer reactions to previous market trends. These professionals help their clients analyze marketing campaigns and branding efforts. Individuals in this role must be creative, have excellent communication and writing skills, and be able to handle a team. The annual salary range of professionals in these field falls between $42,282 to$99,362.
- Fashion Store Manager: A fashion store manager is responsible for the overall performance of a store to ensure it runs smoothly and meets sales target. This role may also come with the job of handling human resources and may require creating and maintaining budgets, to report to senior management. It is also necessary to have an in-depth knowledge of the fashion market, leadership skills, sales and marketing expertise, and previous experience in retail. To succeed in this role, managers should understand how to merchandise the product to be attractive to the customers, while balancing inventories as well as encourage staff productivity. The annual salary of Store Managers falls between $37,656 and $80,016.
- Fashion Coordinator/Director: This role requires an individual who would oversee the day-to-day functions of an entire fashion design department by working with creative and developmental fashion-team members to ensure all projects are running smoothly. A thorough understanding of the fashion industry, excellent networking and communication skills, leadership, and a creative mind is needed for this role. They would work with major designers to get new information on current fashion trends, organize photoshoots, fashion shows, and magazine events. Professionals in this field earn between $40,000 and $100,000 annually.
- Account Executive: This requires persons in this role to work closely with media outlets and advertising agencies to sell and promote brands to stores. Account Executives are responsible for presenting new lines to buyers and sharing product and promotional details. Account Executives typically earn between$43,112 and $86,114annually.
Educational requirements For a Career in Fashion Merchandising
A degree in fashion merchandising or a closely related field is the typical educational requirement for entry-level work in fashion merchandising. Fashion merchandisers typically have a well-rounded education in both business and fashion. Many schools offer Diplomas, Associate or Bachelor’s degrees in fashion merchandising.
Typically, Diplomas and Associate’s programs have the advantage of being shorter, but a Bachelor’s degree would be required for positions beyond entry-level.
Fashion merchandising courses would typically cover basic classes such as fashion marketing, retail marketing and promotion, fashion buying, retail management, consumer behaviour, textile design and production, history of fashion, and economics of the fashion industry.
It is also expected that during your degree programme, you will be equipped with skills relating to problem-solving, communication, business, and marketing to improve your forecasting abilities.
Universities ad Colleges where you can study Fashion Merchandising or related courses:
If you intend to study fashion merchandising or a related course either as a Diploma or a Degree programme, here are some of the universities to explore in the US:
• Fashion Institute of Technology, New York.
• Kent State University, Ohio.
• De Montfort University, Leicester UK
• Berkeley College, New Jersey
• Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, Los Angeles