How to Start a Career in Fashion Merchandising
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Fashion merchandisers are responsible for creating store displays, fashion buying, attending fashion shows and expos, marketing, and even forecasting upcoming trends. The field may sound glamorous to fashion industry hopefuls, but fashion merchandisers put in a lot of hours and the work can be extremely demanding. Having a true passion for the field is only the beginning of having what it takes to become a fashion merchandiser.
A standard classroom setting is not the only way to obtain education in this field, although it may help your chances of snagging a position over the competition to have a fashion merchandising degree. Other ways to learn more about the field are by taking a continuing education class in fashion like the ones offered at Parsons in New York, taking some online fashion independent courses, or even following trends and designers to get a sense of how the fashion market and trends change.
Being in a fashion merchandising program at a reputable fashion school can really help your chances of getting an internship if you let your adviser know your goals and that you are serious about performing well. If you aren't enrolled in a program, it's still possible to get an internship. Networking with fashion buyers, designers, boutique owners, and especially established fashion merchandisers by sending emails and even stopping by to speak with them with your information in hand can help your chances of interning with a great fashion company to gain some experience in fashion merchandising.
There are several entry level jobs in the fashion merchandising field. You can gain industry experience by working in a fashion retail store, working as a fashion marketer, and even working as a fashion design assistant. Since the scope of work for fashion merchandisers is so broad, it helps to work in different areas of the fashion industry when you first enter the field. It may sound counterproductive to your goals, but honestly it will help you to get a better understanding about how important everyone's part is in getting the product into the consumer's hands. Those with some formal training in fashion merchandising will have a better chance of getting hired into better-paying, more sought-after jobs, but people who have no educational background in fashion merchandising can get hired as well. It helps for those without a fashion degree to wow industry leaders with their natural skills, such as the ability to spot trends.
One of the most important skills that a fashion merchandiser should have is an ability to negotiate and sell. If you can't sell your abilities and skills to prospective employers, how can you expect them to trust you with selling their products? Polish your resume and make it stand out. The fashion industry is a creative skill, so have a little fun with adding some flair to the design of your portfolio, while keeping it professional. Also, dress the part when you meet business owners and designers. Fashion is an overall competitive industry, so every little detail counts. There will be several other people who have the same information on their resume as you, so it's up to you to sell prospective employers on your uniqueness.
Christina Caldwell is a contributor for online publications such as Women's eNews and Little Pink Book. Her work has also been featured in the popular U.K. magazine "Black Heritage Today." Caldwell holds a bachelor's degree in marketing and communications.
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