Students 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
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
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