Fashion Merchandising and its Scope

In the fashion merchandising major, students learn how to manufacture fashions consumers want, and effectively sell those fashions. Students learn to sell fashions in fashion merchandising programs that are most often found in departments of home economics/human ecology or of textiles and clothing, and occasionally in schools of business. Wherever the program is housed, students usually begin the major with classes in writing, speech, mathematics, history, social science, and natural science.
During the freshman or sophomore year, they take courses such as fashion analysis and textiles, which introduce them to the terms they need to communicate with others in the fashion industry and build their knowledge of fashion products. In advanced courses students learn to organize and operate a clothing retail business; to plan, promote, and manage merchandise inventories; and to calculate retail figures for a profitable business.
Merchandising students may also study historical and multicultural costumes, a field they later draws on to develop special promotions or store events that feature a particular line of merchandise.
Many programs offer internships or field experiences for college credit. Some also offer study tours of major U.S. fashion markets such as New York, Dallas, and Los Angeles, or of European fashion centers. Fashion merchandising students also gain experience using spreadsheets and data base programs on personal computers, which are important tools on the job. Group projects are assigned in advanced courses to help students become effective team players.
The major prepares students for managerial positions in fashion retailing and manufacturing. Through course work, they can prepare to manage a retail firm, to buy goods for a firm, or to work with designers in planning the overall fashion message for an apparel manufacturer. Fashion retailing is a highly competitive industry, and the pace is fast.
Potential Careers
Graduates of fashion merchandising programs have numerous opportunities for careers with department stores, specialty stores, and catalogs. Top students can land positions in executive training programs with major retailers; after the one- or two-year training program, trainees are promoted to buyer. Some typical entry-level jobs are: merchandiser for store or catalog; store manager; personnel manager; operations manager; fashion coordinator; journalist; information director for a fashion-related company or trade association; public relations director.

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