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What Does a Fashion Merchandiser Do?

Updated on July 7, 2012

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Fashion merchandiser can be an ideal job for skilled multitaskers with a solid background in business and a true passion for fashion. Although it's not one of those glamorous fashion careers that grant you opportunities to attend grand fashion shows in New York City or work closely with supermodels, it does allow you to take part in various interesting aspects of the industry. In a nutshell, the fashion merchandising job is mainly about number crunching and profit maximizing. It's a very important position in the fashion retail industry, which requires a lot of analytical, team-working and decision-making skills. If you are more interested in the aesthetic and creative side of fashion, this might not be the right career choice for you. If you have a good head for figures and like the idea of blending fashion with business, however, you would probably enjoy the job of a fashion merchandiser quite a bit.

Fashion Merchandiser Job Description

In most retail businesses, fashion merchandisers usually work in the head offices along with the assistant merchandisers and the buying teams. Yet, in some smaller chains or independent retailers, the merchandiser may fulfill the role of the fashion buyer as well. In this career guide, we are going to discuss the responsibilities of a merchandiser only, not those of a buyer.


Traits and Skills Needed for a Fashion Merchandising Career

  • Interest in fashion
  • Analytical skills
  • Business-oriented thinking
  • Ability to be a great team player
  • Organizational and multitasking skills
  • Computer skills, especially Microsoft Excel

Analyze Previous Sales

Fashion merchandisers look into the past to predict the future. They analyze previous seasons' sales and get a clear understanding of what sold well, what didn't, what made a good profit, and what had to be discounted in order to sell. In addition, they also study their customer groups to define the average ages, purchasing behaviors and motivations to buy. All this information allows fashion merchandisers to determine what styles of garments are more likely to sell in different stores and how many items should be distributed to each store. The ultimate goal is to maximize profit and not to have any unsold product at the end of the season.

Work on Clothing-Line Plans

Apart from the number crunching and analyzing process, fashion merchandisers also work closely with the buying and designing teams to come up with a "line plan" for each new clothing line. While designers and buyers are more keen to focus on the creative aspects and fashion trends, it is merchandisers' responsibility to advise them what colors, styles or types of fabric are more likely to sell well and make profit.

Useful College Courses for This Fashion Career

  • Business Studies
  • Retail Operations
  • Communication Studies
  • Commercial Implications
  • Fashion Management

Create Pricing Guidelines

Although fashion buyers usually have final say on product prices, merchandisers' role in the pricing process is also significant. As the one with the most insight about the buying trends and target customers, the fashion merchandiser usually helps the buyer create an ideal price range, as well as predict what items are likely to sell at full prices and what items may need to be discounted at the end of the season.

Coordinate with Each Store

Once the products are ready, a fashion merchandiser lets store managers know how many of each garment are being sent to their stores. If there are products left over at the end of the season, the merchandiser will usually collaborate with the store managers to decide on discounts. Some fashion merchandisers also get involved in the displaying process by working with each store's visual merchandiser and making sure the garments are being showcased in a chic and engaging way.

Some Accredited Institutions in the U.S. that Offer Excellent Fashion Merchandising and Fashion Management Programs

Academy of Art University:
79 New Montgomery Street, 4th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94108, USA

get directions

Auburn University:
75 Technacenter Dr, Montgomery, AL 36117, USA

get directions

Colorado State University:
711 Oval Dr, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA

get directions

Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising:
55 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA 94108, USA

get directions

Kent State University:
21 Loop Rd, Kent, Ohio 44240, USA

get directions

Savannah College of Art and Design:
Savannah, GA 31401, USA

get directions

SUNY Fashion Institute of Technology:
7th Ave, New York, NY 10001, USA

get directions

Texas State University:
5702 S Interstate 35, San Marcos, TX 78666, USA

get directions

The University of Arizona:
1401 E University Blvd, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA

get directions

Washington State University:
173 bohler, Pullman, WA 99164, USA

get directions


Submit a Comment
  • Om Paramapoonya profile imageAUTHOR

    Om Paramapoonya 

    7 years ago

    @leaflefler - Yeah, it's one of the fashion careers that people don't know or talk about very much, probably because it's more on the business side of the field. Thanks for your feedback. I'm glad you find this interesting.

  • leahlefler profile image

    Leah Lefler 

    7 years ago from Western New York

    I had never heard of a fashion merchandiser before - it is interesting to learn of that career option!

  • Om Paramapoonya profile imageAUTHOR

    Om Paramapoonya 

    7 years ago

    Yes, it can be really fun. A perfect mixture of creativity and business. Thanks for dropping by. Simone :)

  • Simone Smith profile image

    Simone Haruko Smith 

    7 years ago from San Francisco

    This sounds like an incredibly fun profession. It combines business, creativity, research, and analysis in a really practical and rewarding manner. Thanks for the introduction!

  • Om Paramapoonya profile imageAUTHOR

    Om Paramapoonya 

    8 years ago

    Thanks, krsharp. Glad you enjoyed the hub!

  • krsharp05 profile image

    Kristi Sharp 

    8 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

    Yay for the map! You did a very good job of differentiating between a fashion merchandiser and a buyer. I thought it was very appropriate that you suggest reasons why this field may not be a good fit. The information is easy to read and well presented. To me, it seems that a fashion merchandiser is sort of the actuary in the group - since they are the number crunchers. Well done. -K


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