Our five-pronged approach focuses on your individual strengths to develop your unique qualities towards making you an exemplary pi- designer.
Table of Content:
Whenever we ponder and admire Anne Hathaway's role in the movie "Devil Wears Prada," or Sonam Kapoor in "Aisha," or even Serena van der Woodsen in "Gossip Girl," we often credit the fashionistas for making them look stylish and striking. Fashion designers are the creative minds behind original clothing, accessories, and footwear. They conceptualise designs and patterns, drawing inspiration from upcoming fashion trends. But this is just the first chapter.
Fashion merchandisers are the minds which script these oscar-worthy blockbusters. They are the experts who curate garments and introduce them to consumers in specific retail settings. It can be anything from high-street fashion which sprints from the ramps of Milan to a Zara store in New Delhi or an Adidas Indian cricket team Jersey which is launched simultaneously for the press and shoppers at Myntra. By leveraging their business acumen and fashion knowledge to position clothing in various retail formats, fashion merchandisers generate profit strategically.
Some individuals may confuse these two roles, but a clear distinction exists between a fashion designer and a fashion merchandiser. A fashion designer is responsible for the garment's concept; while a fashion merchandiser brings these designs to life with a vision of the market, demography, and brand.
Moreover, a fashion merchandiser focuses on meticulous planning and the presentation of a merchandise to potential consumers. Not only do they consider fashion aspects but also emphasise the business, marketing, and visual merchandising of garments.
Fashion merchandisers meticulously plan for upcoming fashion trends, collaborate closely with designers and manufacturers, and determine the quantities required for upcoming collections. Pricing decisions, pricing strategies to be incorporated to maximise profits, and inventory management ensure the right products are available at the right time in the right quantities.
These professionals also apply both the art and science of product display and devote attention to in-store, offline, or online marketing strategies to boost sales. They bridge the gap between designers and retailers.
Entering the field of Fashion Merchandising can be achieved through education, practical experience and networking. Discussing this in the further paragraphs,
Aspiring fashion merchandisers can embark on their journey by enrolling in diploma or degree courses in fashion merchandising and fashion marketing or pursuing a bachelor's or master's degree in business administration from a fashion-centric institution. Some knowledge in this field gives an edge over those who are starting without any prior education in this field.
Many schools offer Diplomas, Associate or Bachelor’s degrees in fashion merchandising.
- Diploma: A diploma in fashion merchandising can help one enter into the fashion industry. It can give a specialised knowledge about the industry and industry insights. It can also help out with networking. With a diploma in hand the credibility of the student increases. It can be a way to get a resume or job interviews.
- Bachelor’s: A bachelor’s in fashion merchandising can help get extensive knowledge about merchandising and other aspects of merchandising like buying, retail, marketing, operation, visual merchandising etc. This can give a strong foundation to do well in industry. It can also help one create a portfolio of work to show to potential employers.
Real-world experience can be gained through on-the-job training, internships, or freelancing work, which can lead to certificates that enhance prospects for full-time employment with fashion brands.
They can work for a fashion brand or label in the merchandising department to get a fair understanding of what exactly happens behind the scenes. For instance, one can work as a content creator for a brand, understand the functioning of the merchandising department, and figure out one’s niche. One must start following brands on social media; they always post about hiring interns. One must not focus on the salary or stipend one’s getting at the beginning of the career; rather, one should primarily focus on the learning.
Establishing professional relationships within the industry can open doors to hidden job opportunities, including trade shows, fashion events, and brand gatherings. This can help one get freelancing projects or internship opportunities to kick off. Or one can be a part of the core team as part of an ongoing project. Getting a formal education or having prior experience can help ease this step.
Internships provide first-hand exposure to the daily operations of a fashion label or brand, facilitating a deeper understanding of various departments and responsibilities. They also help individuals determine their specialisation. For instance if one wishes to work with a D2C brand, one can choose the merchandising department to start with but after gaining the insightful experience one can choose the departments one has interest in.
Prior to committing to a comprehensive course, individuals can gain fundamental insights into merchandising by completing short-term online courses. Various colleges and ed-tech startups offer six-week certification programmes to impart foundational knowledge.
Volunteering at fashion shows and events offers behind-the-scenes insights into fashion labels and retail displays. For instance, volunteering as a visual merchandiser at a retail store equips individuals with the skills to create window displays that maximise sales and promote brands.
Locating an industry professional who has experience working with fashion brands or labels can provide valuable guidance and advice for navigating a successful career path in fashion merchandising.
One can read the case studies and success stories of fashion merchandisers online so as to understand the skills and qualities required to get into the field and sustain it.
Fashion merchandising is a diverse field, and here are some of the key career opportunities you can pursue after completing a course. Now, let's delve into the other prospects of a fashion merchandising career in the context of a brand like Uniqlo: Using the case study of Uniqlo as a brand, let us delve into the processes and mechanisms of a career in fashion merchandising as listed below:
At Uniqlo, a buyer is tasked with finalising merchandise selections for various retail outlets, taking into consideration consumer demographics, trends, and market demands. The buyer also manages inventory, sales, and profitability at each store.
They also take care of assortment planning, i.e., deciding the breadth and depth of product types and categories to be kept in the store. For instance, they decide what percentage of each category of tops, bottoms, footwear, accessories, and dresses are to be kept in what quantities and colour/size variations.
Uniqlo's visual merchandisers are responsible for crafting eye-catching and logically structured window displays and in-store layouts to attract customers.
They focus on lighting (to create focal points, to highlight products), signage (posters, graphics, banners), seasonal changes, and planogram development (which involves deciding the positioning, levelling of shelves, racks, and displays within the store).
Uniqlo's planners handle demand projections through data analysis, ensuring efficient inventory management, pricing strategies, and seasonal discount strategies.
They also focus on stock forecasting, stock replenishment, and open-to-buy planning (a designated amount for buying new inventory). They also plan markdowns or any promotional planning to push merchandise to consumers.
The role of a fashion marketing manager at Uniqlo encompasses market research to inform campaign decisions, both online and offline. To tap online consumers, Uniqlo has a separate content creation team that helps in suggesting blog posts, online advertising, and social media posts. To tap offline consumers, they have a team that specifically focuses on billboards, newspapers, and/or magazines.
They are also responsible for maintaining the brand image, overseeing public relations, event management, email marketing, website optimisation, and influencer marketing. Recently, Uniqlo announced Katrina Kaif as their brand ambassador, which means this was carried forward by the marketing team.
Uniqlo's stylists are responsible for selecting outfits and accessories for photoshoots. They collaborate with photographers, models, makeup artists, and directors. Additionally, they conduct closet audits to identify gaps in merchandise and meet customer expectations.
Consultants at Uniqlo assist customers in retail outlets, offering personalised clothing recommendations based on individual preferences. Their efforts contribute to achieving store targets.
At Uniqlo, retail managers oversee daily store operations, ensuring optimal inventory management and customer satisfaction while striving to meet financial goals.
The fashion industry is a vast landscape, offering numerous opportunities in various sectors. Success in this field hinges on acquiring a solid education, accumulating part-time or full-time experience, and cultivating a strong business acumen. In an evolving landscape, new trends in fashion merchandise include:
With growing environmental consciousness, fashion brands are adopting eco-friendly practices in production, driving the emergence of green marketing. Adidas has collaborated with Parley for the Oceans to design a sneaker made from recycled plastic. Parley and his team collected plastic from coastal areas in the Maldives, and then it was shipped to Adidas's supplier in Taiwan, which upcycled the plastic and transformed it into a yarn fibre, which created Parley X Adidas products.
Fashion brands are rethinking their packaging to provide something that is biodegradable and recyclable. Nike has come up with “Nike One Box,” a packaging concept where the shoe is shipped to customers in only one package without the need for outer packaging. This also led to no logo packaging. Through this initiative, Nike has cut waste by 4% since 2020 and is also targeting 10% by 2025.
The rise of online shopping has transformed the fashion industry, compelling brands to establish a robust online presence to retain market share.
As data availability increases, merchandisers rely more on data analysis for customer preferences, personalisation, price optimisation, and inventory management. Zara’s success depends heavily on customer data and market research to determine trends.
In a digitised world, brands strive for an omnipresent presence across online and offline platforms, which helps them push products to customers to maximise sales. Lenskart has come up with an omnichannel presence by developing a 3D virtual trial room to give customers the experience of a store at home to select glasses that best fit their faces. The glasses that suit the customers can be bought through apps, websites, mobile websites, or stores.
Brands these days are pushing merchandise through social media platforms to directly or indirectly improve the shopping experience and make it easier for consumers to select and shop.
For instance, Topshop, a UK-based brand, does digital billboards that are connected to the company's social media platforms, which were showcased at London Fashion Week, the inventory of which is present at each store.
Secondhand or rental clothing is grabbing eyeballs. Several fashion brands are launching their own websites to resell clothes in an economical and sustainable fashion. Levi’s has launched Levi’s Secondhand, its first buyback programme, asking customers to purchase secondhand apparel on their website. Levis is collaborating with Trove to handle its operations for the resale platform.
Let's now discuss the pay in this sector and how financially rewarding it is. A career in fashion merchandising is greatly influenced by the job's location, the experience that individual has gained over time, and the company they work for.
As per Glassdoor.co, if one works with an export house like Shahi Exports or Gokaldas Exports, one can get an average 4.5 LPA as a fresher. Whereas, if one works for a buying house like Impulse, Fung Group, etc., on average, they can make 5.5 LPA, and if one works with a fashion brand or e-commerce at the backend, they can make 6–8 LPA. As we move up the hierarchy, this gradually goes higher.
In summary, here are some concluding thoughts to establish clarity regarding why fashion merchandising is a good opportunity:
In a nutshell, fashion merchandising offers a fulfilling and dynamic career path with various opportunities for growth and impact. It allows individuals to merge their love for fashion with a rewarding and influential profession in a constantly evolving industry.
Did you get the clarity you were looking for? If not, here’s a quick guide on what to expect from a Fashion Business Management course. Also you could dive deeper into basics about fashion merchandising.
Don’t forget to watch this fashion merchandising project with Sarita Handa prepared by IIAD’s Fashion Business Management students.
Ever wondered how fashion retail captures your attention? Discover the secrets behind the changing sphere of visual merchandising.
Hi! I am Shraddha Kochar, I was born, raised, and have completed my education in Delhi. I have been in the fashion industry for the last 7+ years, with varied experience working in startups, national brands, e-commerce, exports and education secto ...
r. I like travelling and exploring places for food. I landed in the education sector very mystically, and since then there is no looking back. I enjoy reading about fashion & lifestyle brands, fiction, fitness, personal finance and philosophy. Keeping in mind the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) , I am trying to become a conscious and aware human.
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