From major department stores to tiny boutiques, retailers rely on fashion merchandisers to spot the season's hottest trends and select what they carry in their stores. Fashion merchandising is an ideal career for someone fascinated by the fashion industry -- but a love of clothes alone isn't enough to snag a job in the field. An eye for design, keen business sense and strong communication skills are all necessary to ensure that only the most fashionable garments make it into consumers' hands.
Fashion merchandisers have a well-rounded education in both business and fashion. Associate's and bachelor's degree programs in fashion merchandising exist nationwide through colleges, trade schools and design academies. You'll take classes in basic accounting, business communication, color theory and basic fashion design to help you learn the ins and outs of the industry. While an associate’s degree will get your foot in the door, most positions beyond entry-level require a bachelor’s degree.
Merchandisers are well-versed in all aspects of fashion -- from garment construction to textile types. As a fashion merchandiser, your job is to predict what consumers want before they even step into the store, so the more know you more about fashion, the better. Fashion shows, industry magazines and industry blogs are all resources you should take advantage of to keep you up-to-date in fashion trends so you can make predictions that are spot-on. After all, stores make it or break it based on inventory, so it's essential that you're able to select merchandise that's sure to sell.
Fashion merchandisers are in charge of displaying clothing in a way that entices consumers to go into stores. Once you've selected inventory and you're in the store, you need the know-how to tie complete outfits together so that consumers are interested in buying more than just a single piece of clothing. Your eye for detail will be put to the test as you build front window displays and select the perfect accessories to complement display outfits.
In addition to fashion knowledge and education, you need some key personal qualities to truly succeed in the industry. Time management skills, the ability to travel, strong social skills and a positive work ethic are all important for your success as a merchandiser. Superior organization skills are valuable because you'll be dealing with multiple projects and carrying out various tasks at the same time.