Design Your Future in Fashion Merchandising

Read on to learn more about what to look for in a fashion merchandising program.

young fashion merchandiserFashion merchandising is an exciting, evolving career path that combines fashion design with business skills, and marketing smarts with high style. As an entry-level fashion merchandiser, you’ll work in sales and merchandise assistant positions. Become a stylist for advertising, work the floor of a chic independently-owned boutique or arrange intriguing window displays at trendy national retailers like Urban Outfitters—the possibilities to break into the business are as eclectic as your individual style.

As you gain more experience and education, you can move up to director or other top positions in your company, or strike out as a business owner yourself. Fashion merchandisers in executive positions will work with buyers to direct what’s purchased and how it’s presented to customers. In the thriving realm of e-commerce, these skills also translate into fashion-related jobs in the tech and online sales industries.

Go-getters with a strong vision, who can lead teams but who also thrive working with them, can rise to the top of this competitive and creatively fulfilling field.

Choosing a College of Fashion Merchandising

What to Expect from a Fashion Merchandising Program

A good fashion merchandising program will provide equal coursework in business and fashion, the two critical threads to knit together your future career.

You’ll want to make sure that the program you’re interested in offers course objectives like these, which are desired student outcomes at the Illinois Institute of Art—Chicago:

  • Merchandise Management: Graduates will demonstrate understanding of selection, inventory, distribution, and planning processes.
  • Technology: Graduates will demonstrate proficiency in current industry technology and software related to business and marketing.
  • Communication–Fashion Branding: Graduates will demonstrate understanding of product attributes, benefits, and consumer beliefs and values, as well as be able to distinguish national versus private label brands.
  • Marketing Context: Graduates will demonstrate skill in merchandise presentation display and in-store sales promotion as marketing tools.
  • Professionalism: Graduates will apply and articulate professional standards and business concepts related to retail and fashion industries.

What Degrees are Available

You can access entry-level jobs in fashion retail and merchandising with a high school degree, though you may want to enhance your knowledge with formal training and schooling. Serious students who wish to go far in fashion—a field where knowledge is power—can choose the level of education they’d like to pursue. The options build upon each other, as you learn more about business processes, marketing techniques and the psychology of fashion.

  • Diploma or Certificate in Fashion Retailing: In these programs, you’ll learn how to combine creative and business skills to learn how to display, market, and sell fashion merchandise. Other areas of study include consumer behavior, retail operations, visual merchandising and business skills.
  • Associate of Applied Sciences in Fashion Merchandising: Additional problem-solving and critical thinking skills round out your fashion merchandising education to propel you to the next level. A focus on business concepts and practices becomes more prominent as you earn your associate’s.
  • Bachelor of Science in Fashion Merchandising; Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design & Marketing; Bachelor’s in Business—Fashion Merchandising: The additional time afforded by a four-year degree allows you to dig deeper into aspects of the fashion and business worlds that you want to master in your career. As you can see, there are a variety of bachelor’s degree programs that cater to specific interests, whether you’d like to hone additional skills in design, business or another related area.

The Best Accessory: Accreditation

Fashion design schools are primarily accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) or the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS). They may also be accredited by one of six regional accrediting bodies.

Here’s why accreditation is important:

  • Choosing an accredited fashion design school ensures that the education you receive meets industry standards
  • Accreditation helps ensure that your credits will transfer if you choose to change schools or pursue a higher degree at another school

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