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What is Fashion Merchandising?

Puja Lalwani
Among the many careers in fashion designing, fashion merchandising is one that encompasses everything that the fashion industry has to offer. Take a look at its job description and employment outlook.
Fashion merchandising is an interesting career option for those of you who are interested, not only in fashion design, but also the business activities involved in the field. You should know that, simply a passion for fashion is not enough to pursue this as a career.
You have to be passionate about what you do, and there is a lot of action involved on the business front. Simply put, the fashion industry is not as glamorous as it appears, and in careers such as fashion merchandising, the glamor is extremely low, and the hard work involved, equally high.

Job Description

The prime job of a fashion merchandiser is to bring together all areas of the fashion biz and manage it. The main roles involved are those of designing, development of new and unique products, production, and creating and developing sales and marketing plans.
While these are the broader roles, some fashion merchandisers have specific roles pertaining to one particular area.
  • Attending various fashion shows to pick up the latest in style, and utilizing this knowledge in the development of new products.
  • Analyzing and predicting trends and fashion clothing styles, and collaborating with fashion designers to create and introduce new and unique products in the fashion industry.
  • Working with suppliers to strike cost-effective deals for production.
  • Developing marketing strategies that will enhance overall sales.
  • Working in close contact with other professionals in the industry.
  • Managing the retail store by designing the store layout and engaging in visual merchandising (enhancing sales through store displays).
  • Working in close contact with the media, by utilizing photography, magazine publications, and other such techniques to promote new products and the store.
  • Analyzing fashion trends to develop products to cater to a target or niche market.
As you can see, designing is only one aspect of this field. All these skills will be taught to you during your course. However, they can be really developed and honed only when on the job. A school cannot prepare you for real-life situations and issues that you may have to face on the job. However, it will give you a strong knowledge base to be able to analyze and effectively deal with various situations.
While most of the requirements are taught at a school, you do require some basic skills that will give you the edge in this job. For one, you must have a strong passion, not only for fashion, but also for business and finance. As you can see, this job is not only about designing apparel, it also includes a host of other essential functions too.
It would be helpful if you had good communication skills, because a lot of this job depends on clear and effective communication. Analytical skills to predict upcoming trends in the fashion industry are important, as are creative thinking abilities to apply this knowledge in a unique manner.
It is also important that you have the knowledge of the history of fashion and its various trends over time. Having good decision-making and problem-solving skills are imperative, though these are skills that are learned by experience.
Knowledge of brands that make up the fashion industry is important & if you do have a true passion for fashion, you would probably already know about what's hotĀ & what's not. Apart from these, certain aspects that will be taught to you in school are accounting skills, use of basic software such as MS Office, the basics of colorsĀ & design & marketing skills.

Employment Outlook

As much as the fashion industry continues to grow, the job outlook for those wishing to enter here, including fashion merchandising, is not that bright. This is because, the demand for professionals in this industry is lesser than the number of people available to fill up these positions. This still does not mean that you cannot pursue it as a career.
If you do have a true passion for this field, there is no reason this should dissuade you from pursuing your dream career. The idea is to be as creative and innovative as possible. Your personal talent, skills, and abilities are what will get you a good salary, and will give you an edge over your peers in this field.
As long as you are sure that you are meant for the fashion industry, nothing should dissuade you from pursuing fashion merchandising, and making the amount of money you truly deserve.