About the Fashion Merchandising Major
Studies in fashion merchandising combine both creative and analytical thinking to buy, sell, manufacture, and promote clothing and accessories. In this interdisciplinary field, students study fashion marketing, product development, planning, and management to acquire the skills needed for a career in global retail operations. The retail industry is very fast-paced and constantly changing, requiring professionals to keep up with and forecast trends. It's also the one of the largest private employer sector, employing over 42 million in the United States alone.
Fashion merchandising programs offer students a professionally oriented curriculum. An increasing number of programs have been emphasizing fashion in a global context and include unique opportunities to visit corporate offices and participate in study abroad programs in cities considered to be "fashion capitals," such as Milan and Florence in Italy, and Paris, France.
Graduates work for fashion brands and designers, large department stores, small boutiques, e-commerce retailers, wholesale trade and manufacturing companies, among other employers. Graduates find work in fields ranging from fashion buying, sales, marketing, public relations, styling, or event planning.
The curriculum for fashion merchandising programs is professionally oriented and typically consists of a combination of liberal arts and business courses. Effectively working in the business side of fashion involves understanding how to analyze target markets and using those insights to plan for future seasons. Students immerse themselves in classes like merchandising mathematics, finance, retail management, economics, marketing, production and distribution, and fashion history. Students learn leadership and management skills, how to analyze and forecast trends for upcoming seasons, how to apply and use industry-related technology, and how to apply insights to brand strategy and product development.
Internships are very valuable because they give fashion merchandising students a chance to apply what they've learned in the classroom to practical, real-world experiences as well as make important connections. Students that have an internship under their belt are likely to have the most success finding employment after graduation. Internships are available with major retail companies, fashion brands, small boutiques, showrooms, and wholesale distributors. Department stores like Macy's and Nordstrom offer structured retail management programs for students interested in areas such as store management, buying and planning, product development, and design. Another plus is that retail employers often promote from within and offer students jobs upon completion of their internship.