Apparel and Accessories Merchandising

If you have an eye for fashion, are creative and enjoy working on elaborate projects, a career in apparel and accessory merchandising may be right for you. For more information about job duties and prospects, earnings potential and educational requirements, read on.

Is Apparel and Accessory Merchandising For Me?

Career Overview

Apparel and accessory merchandising professionals buy and sell items to be sold in stores, boutiques and other shops. In the fashion industry, trends come and go in the blink of an eye, so apparel and accessories merchandising professionals must be aware of both current and future fashion trends. As a professional, your days may be spent determining what products to buy for resale, which includes attending fashion and trade shows to learn about the latest trends. You'll also interview potential suppliers, review orders and follow up with purchasers to ensure they're receiving their shipments.

Apparel and accessory merchandising professionals may work alongside other purchasing agents, production supervisors and fashion designers. If you're interested in this field, you should expect to work more than 40 hours per week, especially when meeting production deadlines. Longer hours might be expected during holiday and back-to-school seasons. You might also need to attend conferences.

Employment and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for retail buyers, purchasing managers and purchasing agents is expected to grow by 4% between 2012 and 2022, which is slower than the national average for all occupations. The BLS also reported that the average annual wage for wholesale and retailer buyers was $58,210 in May 2013 (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Work in Apparel and Accessory Merchandising?

Educational Options

You can find fashion merchandising associate's, bachelor's and master's degree programs at schools around the U.S. Some apparel and accessory merchandisers have earned a bachelor's degree in business. In a fashion merchandising associate's degree program, you gain basic industry knowledge that can serve as the foundation for a more comprehensive bachelor's degree program in apparel and accessory merchandising.

Coursework

As a student in a fashion merchandising degree program, you may take courses in fashion fundamentals, fashion history, forecasting and consumer behavior. You might also study fashion marketing, merchandising mathematics and retail management. Four-year fashion merchandising programs can include instruction in business, sales, customer relations, management and creative technology. You may also pursue industry internships or study abroad in a fashion-centric city like Paris, France. At the graduate level, a master' degree program in fashion merchandising program can help you acquire the background and skills you need to obtain a management position in the industry.

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