Start Your Fashion Merchandising Career
Read a professional's perspective on her fashion merchandising career.
The hours are long, the work is demanding, but for Roberta Pasciuti a fashion merchandising career is just right. Pasciuti graduated six years ago from the Design and Management program at Parsons The New School for Design. She is now at Juicy Couture, working as the senior merchandiser of jewelry, fashion accessories and men's accessories.
What Exactly Is a Fashion Merchandiser?
A lot of people's ideas about a fashion merchandising career are wrong, according to Pasciuti. "So many people—especially when they are just starting out—are expecting fashion to be very glamorous and full of parties and great, fabulous clothes and all of that," Pasciuti says. "It's a very different reality. The role of merchandising is really to link all areas of fashion and manage the business."
"You're working with design, product development, production, marketing and sales. You're helping to marry the design vision with the financial goals." Pasciuti's company, Juicy Couture, which is part of Liz Claiborne, employs thousands of people.
What Is a Normal Day Like in a Fashion Merchandising Career?
"The job takes on many different personalities," she says. "You're working with so many aspects of the company that you need to be prepared for anything and be able to multitask in order to accomplish your work."
"I get to wear many hats—a fashion merchandising job doesn't let you get bored." For Pasciuti, that same unpredictability is also the most challenging aspect of a fashion merchandising career. "It goes both ways. You really have to be able to switch gears and do one thing one second and something completely different the next. You're always on."
While tasks may vary, the high level of commitment fashion merchandisers need remains constant. "You need to expect to put in at least 60 hours a week," Pasciuti says. "With a brand like Juicy, where it's really growing, you need to put in the time and effort to make it happen."
Any Advice for Students?
What did she learn in school that has been useful? Pasciuti says, "Everything. I have to say that Parsons was a really great program for what I am doing now. I came into the industry very well prepared."
Students looking for a good a fashion merchandising school should look for a well-balanced program with lots of financial and analytical courses, computer training that includes Microsoft Excel, and international business courses. While in school, she advises that "you get in a lot of internships beforehand, so you know exactly what to expect."
Is a Fashion Merchandising Career Worth It?
"It can be very rewarding. If you're passionate about what you do, you can definitely see the payoff, which makes you feel good. It's great to see an idea go from concept to actually hitting the retail stores and seeing it sell," Pasciuti says. "In a lot of other areas, you have a certain sense of ambiguity. You have a feel for what's going to be good, or you feel something's working, but you don't have that same measure of success."