Fashion Merchandising  Program Description


Insider Info

dotStudents of fashion merchandising programs use creativity and an intuitive sense of what's hip to come up with the best ways to display fashion merchandise.

Grads of these programs often work as fashion buyers. Fashion buyers choose and buy merchandise, and also decide on the decor, signs, special lighting and fixtures such as stands, shelves and mannequins.

Many departments of fashion and textiles offer bachelor's degrees in fashion merchandising or fashion marketing. These programs are also offered at the master's level. Some universities and colleges also offer minors or certificates in fashion merchandising.

Typical courses include accounting, fashion retailing, theory of color, fashion show coordination, apparel construction, marketing, mathematics of merchandising, business relations, textiles, fashion buying, visual merchandising and retail advertising.

Teresa Summers is a fashion merchandising professor at Louisiana State University. She says she looks for applicants with a strong GPA, analytical reasoning skills, verbal and written communication skills and computer literacy.

Some schools offer co-op or internship programs that allow their students to get experience in the industry.

Some schools even offer on-campus experience. Judy Cameron is the fashion merchandising program coordinator for a community college. Students in her program run an on-campus clothing store.

Her students must also complete 100 hours of work in the field before graduating. They must work in a retail store and volunteer at fashion shows, wholesale showrooms or buying offices.

Cameron says you should be people-oriented, have strong communication skills and be comfortable with teamwork. Those who succeed as fashion buyers work at a brisk pace, driven by a passion for the business.

She adds that high school students should take business subjects. "Students should be comfortable with business math concepts such as percentages [and] decimals, since much of what buyers do is planning and budgeting," she says.

Summers agrees that math skills are key. "Much of what a buyer does relies on strong analytical reasoning skills," she says.

She also recommends working in a clothing store, since many firms require buyers to have store experience. "You must know your target customer in order to succeed in buying."


Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see Buyers and Purchasing Agents

Colleges and Universities
List of schools and programs endorsed by the American Apparel and Footwear Association Education Foundation

Apparel Magazine
Resource for fashion and apparel industry news

Career Threads
Great career resource from the American Apparel Foundation

Fashion Net
Links to job listings, profiles and more

Just the Facts

Want a quick overview of what this program is about? Check out Just the Facts for a simple description.