Fashion Merchandising

As its name suggests, fashion merchandising lies at the intersection of fashion and business. As professionals, merchandisers turn concepts into fashion products and presentations for brands, maximizing their competitive edge with visual marketing techniques.

There is a strong design element to this job, always filtered through business priorities. Merchandisers may organize stocking and presentation of products in stores and window displays. In some positions, they must know the steps of apparel construction, including methods of basic tailoring and clothing alterations, textile manipulation, and complex color, pattern and texture coordination.

As marketing professionals, merchandisers identify and predict fashion trends, direct the launch of product lines, and help manage retail stores and boutiques. They attend fashion shows and expos, maintain connections with vendors, create marketing campaigns, develop buyer personas, and analyze consumer trends to grow sales. They are experts in the complex relationships that link brands, consumers, products and culture.

As business people, merchandisers shop the competition, conduct extensive market research, stay abreast of consumer trends, and help brands anticipate demand ahead of the sales seasons. They must keep up with hot designers and their signature styles, the biggest players in the industry, and major developments in the global economy.

Fashion merchandising is fairly broad. The discipline encompasses many possible areas of emphasis, from product manufacture and buying to marketing and sales. Work could focus on the retail side of the business or the production side. Merchandisers are employed domestically and in multinational corporations. They may work in mainstream apparel sales or "high fashion." Some don't work in fashion at all, but in related industries like hospitality or home furnishings.

Both fashion and business are incredibly competitive sectors. Fashion merchandising is physically, psychologically and emotionally demanding. Not surprisingly, the highest pay can be had in big cities associated with high fashion, such as New York City and Los Angeles. Fashion merchandisers may be paid an hourly wage, a fixed rate per idea, a salary or commissions on sales. Working conditions and benefits vary by the job. Note that the possible range of earnings is wide.

It's helpful to have or cultivate excellent interpersonal and assertive communication skills in this sector. Merchandisers who are genuinely passionate and devoted to the profession will be most satisfied with this career choice. The ideal fashion merchandiser is energetic, independently motivated, organized, creative and yet analytical, able to efficiently turn abstract concepts into real products that people love.

About Fashion Merchandising Programs

Accreditation

The National Association of Schools of Art and Design, or NASAD, is responsible for accrediting many high-quality art and design programs in the United States, including those focused specifically on fashion merchandising. The best schools are also commonly recognized by regional groups, such as the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges.

Regulation

Fashion merchandisers must be aware of government regulations that apply to garment manufacturing, including materials labeling and marketing claims laws. International merchandisers must also learn transnational rules, tariffs and duties relevant to moving products across national borders. Although fashion merchandisers are not licensed as professionals by U.S. states, they may still need licensure for certain import and export activities.

Educational Options in Fashion Merchandising

Merchandising programs are offered at all postsecondary levels of education. It can take between one and six years to complete all coursework, depending on one's educational pathway and career goals.

In some cases, practical experience can serve as a substitute for formal training. For example, some retail facilities offer fashion merchandising training as part of a long-term job offer. It can be difficult, however, to secure these positions without pre-existing connections.

Earning a higher education in this field can open up otherwise inaccessible job opportunities. Combining formal education with extensive experience and networking will enhance employment opportunities. Students should become immersed in the world of fashion to maximize their odds of landing a post-graduation job.

Practical Training

Internships, summer programs, study abroad and other forms of practical training are worthwhile complements to a fashion merchandising degree. Most applicants will need to create a portfolio of their best work and industry experience to present when applying for internships and other practical training opportunities.

Students attest to the value of study abroad programming, which brings them into the daily grind to observe supply chains and global markets in action. Study abroad participants may get a chance to meet international business leaders and government officials. They can learn the ropes of overseas factory management, from quality assurance in shipping to global marketing.

Generally speaking, those with the most credentials, experience and proven industry success will advance quickest in this field. The ability to deploy and creatively incorporate emerging technologies will also make merchandisers more competitive.

Postsecondary Degrees

Degrees in fashion merchandising are issued with several different names, including Fashion Marketing and Management, Fashion Retailing, and Retail Management. Students might earn, for example, the Associate of Applied Science in Fashion Marketing or the Bachelor of Science in Fashion Merchandising. Many high-caliber merchandising degrees can be earned at vocational art and design schools.

Why earn a degree in fashion merchandising? An associate's or bachelor's degree in this discipline is sometimes used to complement a design degree, especially for those who want to start their own business. A master's degree can qualify one for employment in educational institutions, such as museums, colleges and universities. Students who want to work higher up the ladder should consider earning a master's degree in fashion merchandising or retail management.

Specialization

While specializations in this field are not standardized, there are plenty of areas of emphasis, many centered around specific job descriptions. These include visual merchandising and visual brand design, fashion forecasting, store design, presentations, purchasing management, marketing, wholesale buying and retail buying.

Visual merchandisers, for example, may work for lifestyle magazines or ad agencies, in television broadcasting or any area in which skilled visual communication is key. Merchandisers may also target segments of the industry focused on buyer demographics, such as men's fashion, women's fashion or sports apparel. There are many possibilities; job titles vary by employer.

Featured Schools

Programs offered:

  • Fashion Marketing & Management (BA)
  • Fashion Retailing (C)
Locations:  Durham

We found 197 schools offering fashion merchandising degree programs in the U.S.

>> See all 197 Fashion Merchandising Colleges in the U.S.

Fashion Merchandising Schools By Total Enrollment

1
Miami Dade College
Miami, FL  |  Total Enrollment: 46834

Degrees Offered: Less than one year, One but less than two years, Associate's
2
University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
Minneapolis, MN  |  Total Enrollment: 45481

Degrees Offered: One but less than two years, Two but less than 4 years, Bachelor's, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's, First-professional degree
3
Houston Community College System
Houston, TX  |  Total Enrollment: 40929

Degrees Offered: Less than one year, One but less than two years, Associate's, Two but less than 4 years
4
City College of San Francisco
San Francisco, CA  |  Total Enrollment: 39386

Degrees Offered: Less than one year, One but less than two years, Associate's, Two but less than 4 years
5
University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign
Champaign, IL  |  Total Enrollment: 38465

Degrees Offered: Two but less than 4 years, Bachelor's, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's, First-professional degree
6
University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ  |  Total Enrollment: 34488

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's, First-professional degree
7
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT  |  Total Enrollment: 32554

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, Master's, Doctor's, First-professional degree
8
Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College
Baton Rouge, LA  |  Total Enrollment: 31527

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's, First-professional degree
9
University of Georgia
Athens, GA  |  Total Enrollment: 31288

Degrees Offered: Associate's, Bachelor's, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's, First-professional degree
10
College of Dupage
Glen Ellyn, IL  |  Total Enrollment: 28862

Degrees Offered: Less than one year, One but less than two years, Associate's

Browse All 197 Colleges With Fashion Merchandising Programs


Title City State Enrollment
Abilene Christian University Abilene TX 4739
Adrian College Adrian MI 1081
Ai Miami International University of Art and Design Miami FL 997
Alexandria Technical College Alexandria MN 2192
Allan Hancock College Santa Maria CA 12110
Antonelli College Cincinnati OH 350
Art Institute of Charlotte Charlotte NC 194
Art Institute of Colorado Denver CO 2090
Art Institute of Philadelphia Philadelphia PA 2516
Art Institute of Seattle Seattle WA 2561
Ashland University Ashland OH 6055
Austin Community College Austin TX 25735
Bauder College Atlanta GA 598
Bay State College Boston MA 608
Berkeley College West Paterson NJ 1994
Berkeley College White Plains NY 615
Berkeley College New York NY 1640
Bowling Green State University - Main Campus Bowling Green OH 18096
Bradley Academy for the Visual Arts York PA 465
Brenau University Gainesville GA 2266
Briarwood College Southington CT 518
Brigham Young University Provo UT 32554
Brookdale Community College Lincroft NJ 11552
Brooks College Long Beach CA 1618
California Design College Los Angeles CA 279
Centenary College Hackettstown NJ 1335
Central Michigan University Mount Pleasant MI 26845
Central Washington University Ellensburg WA 8050
Century Community and Technical College White Bear Lake MN 6937
Chaffey College Rancho Cucamonga CA 15220
Champlain College Burlington VT 2530
Chicago State University Chicago IL 6914
City College of San Francisco San Francisco CA 39386
College of Dupage Glen Ellyn IL 28862
College of the Sequoias Visalia CA 10251
Columbia College Columbia MO 7948
Community College of Philadelphia Philadelphia PA 15953
Community College of Rhode Island Warwick RI 15583
Cuesta College San Luis Obispo CA 9496
Dakota County Technical College Rosemount MN 3086
Davis & Elkins College Elkins WV 668
Davis College Toledo OH 434
Delta College University Center MI 9358
Delta State University Cleveland MS 3875
Dixie State College of Utah Saint George UT 6350
Dominican University River Forest IL 2317
Draughons Junior College Inc Nashville TN 158
Eastern Kentucky University Richmond KY 13285
Eastern Michigan University Ypsilanti MI 23561
Edmonds Community College Lynnwood WA 8094
El Paso Community College El Paso TX 18001
Evergreen Valley College San Jose CA 12404
Fairmont State University Fairmont WV 6496
Fashion Careers College San Diego CA 90
Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising - Los Angeles Los Angeles CA 2648
Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising - San Diego San Diego CA 213
Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising - San Francisco San Francisco CA 663
Fashion Institute of Technology New York NY 10813
Ferris State University Big Rapids MI 9847
Fisher College Boston MA 1513
Fresno City College Fresno CA 19351
Fullerton College Fullerton CA 19993
Gateway Community College New Haven CT 4157
Genesee Community College Batavia NY 4521
George Fox University Newberg OR 2635
Grand Rapids Community College Grand Rapids MI 13400
Greenville Technical College Greenville SC 10786
Harding University Searcy AR 4337
Herkimer County Community College Herkimer NY 2591
Hesser College Manchester NH 2766
Highline Community College Des Moines WA 6327
Houston Community College System Houston TX 40929
Houston Training School - South Houston TX 284
Icm School of Business and Medical Careers Pittsburgh PA 675
Immaculata University Immaculata PA 2922
Indiana Business College - Indianapolis Indianapolis IN 634
Indiana University of Pennsylvania - Main Campus Indiana PA 13410
International Academy of Design and Technology Tampa FL 1325
Iowa Western Community College Council Bluffs IA 4503
John A Logan College Carterville IL 7675
Johnson & Wales University Providence RI 9172
Johnson & Wales University - Florida Campus North Miami FL 1620
Joliet Junior College Joliet IL 11334
Judson College Marion AL 321
Kent State University - Kent Campus Kent OH 21924
Kilgore College Kilgore TX 4000
Laredo Community College Laredo TX 7322
Lasell College Newton MA 841
Lindenwood University Saint Charles MO 6056
Lipscomb University Nashville TN 2528
Long Beach City College Long Beach CA 20926
Los Angeles Trade Technical College Los Angeles CA 18164
Los Angeles Valley College Valley Glen CA 17393
Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College Baton Rouge LA 31527
Macomb Community College Warren MI 22001
Madison Area Technical College Madison WI 14474
Madonna University Livonia MI 3968
Mars Hill College Mars Hill NC 1219
Marygrove College Detroit MI 5744
Marymount College of Fordham University Tarrytown NY 938
 1 2 >