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What is Fashion Merchandising?
Fashion merchandising involves developing an understanding of the fashion industry, including anticipating consumer demand and identifying growing trends in order to take advantage of market conditions and to release products in order to take advantage of such demand. Individuals working in the field will use a variety of research models in order to extrapolate information for use in the decision making process. Marketing, business, merchandising and analytical skills are all utilized by individuals when attempting to track market forces. Individuals in this field may find themselves specializing in a particular area of fashion merchandising or focusing on a specific market group.
A degree in fashion merchandising prepares an individual with the skills necessary to track market trends, identify new fashions, approximate costs and evaluate demand for various products in the fashion industry. Fashion merchandising is a growing field; certificate and degree programs have become more commonplace and often explore the business side of fashion. A fashion merchandising program will impart multiple skills ranging from the artistic to business.
Individuals enrolled in a fashion merchandising program will be exposed to various fashions, trends, and design principles. Utilizing case studies, students will learn about how trends may impact the market, and how new fashions may be introduced into a given area. Students will also learn about manufacturing pipelines, how to develop and maintaining relationships with various suppliers and manufacturers, as well as understanding the process for production and the costs associated for orders of varying size. In addition, business courses will be taken, providing understanding of basic economic principles and managerial methods.
A curriculum in fashion merchandising may include:
- Import and Export
- Production Methods
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As it is a burgeoning field there is no standard degree for entry level positions, and talent carries a significant amount of weight. Positions requiring cost-benefit analyses on production, and equivalent statistical reporting may require higher levels of education or several years of experience. A fashion merchandiser must constantly be on the lookout for developing trends, and must be able to examine previous fashion trends to predict product purchases for stores, or production runs for designers. Individuals in this field should be able to distinguish themselves by demonstrating industry knowledge and accurately understanding the forces that are in effect when considering marketing solutions and production options.
Some possible career paths include:
- Fashion Advertising Agent
- Event Planner
- Store Buyer
- Promotion Specialist
Job Growth, Salary, and Related Fields
Job growth in fashion merchandising is expected to grow significantly faster than average over the next decade. This is due to burgeoning markets locally, nationally, and internationally. The desire for professionals who understand fashion production and can identify trends in the market is expected to increase as the ability to deliver goods to previously untapped markets increases. This is coupled with an increased interest in fashion by the middle class which will increase the demand for varying fashions in the future.
The average salary for someone with a degree in fashion merchandise is $60,700 per year, but can vary wildly based on career path, experience, and employer. The outlook for the industry over the next ten years is steady with an expected 7,200 fashion merchandisers expected to join the ranks of the profession.