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What Does it Take to be a successful Fashion Merchandiser?

IFD’s Featured Job Profile:  Fashion Merchandising

Article written by Ayla David, L.I.M. student, IFD intern and contributing writer

When you think about a career in fashion, design is normally the go to option for jobs. What many people forget is that fashion industry jobs are widely varied, expansive, and incredibly detailed. Just like any creative process, the fashion industry has many minds and hands working together to do everything from designing a garment  to running an entire brand. One of these sometimes overlooked but incredibly important jobs is the fashion merchandiser.

In her book, The Fundamentals of Fashion Management, Susan Dillon defines fashion merchandising as, “…the business side of the fashion world and involves finance, visual merchandising, data analysis, trend forecasting, marketing strategies, advertising principles, publicity, product development, buying and retail management.”

Now hold on, how can one individual possibly complete all of these roles? Fashion Merchandisers often manage the line planning of each collection. They might work for retail stores, costume supply, or design houses and apparel brands. Fashion merchandisers are often charged with keeping things pointed in the right direction and are asked to predict fashion trends, handle store layouts, purchase apparel, and work with design teams. The reality is that fashion merchandisers are juggling many tasks because they are always on the look out for new trends, thinking about retail strategies, target markets, consumer sales, and even could be creating the window displays for stores! The job takes passion and drive and if that sounds like a dream job to you, read on to learn more and see if this is a good fit for you!

 So what are some of the key roles & responsibilities ??

Dillon breaks down the role of a fashion merchandiser into a handful of specific operations:


● Consumer research

● Creating seasonal range plans 

● Creating mood boards 

● Identifying trends 

● Trend forecasting 

● Supply chain planning 

● Critical path thinking 

● Building seasonal calendars 

● Margin and mark-ups 

● Practical buying and merchandising exercises


Merchandisers may also work hand-in-hand with fashion buyers to ensure they buy products with maximum profitability for the coming season. It is a varied, analytical and immersive role where the merchandiser must be in-the-know about all details within their brand. Fashion merchandisers must offer customers an innovative and exciting experience and it all comes down to the main mission of the job: creating profit for the company.

So what are some of the skills needed?

Ideal skills for fashion merchandising can also depend on a brand since they give every merchandiser their own roles & responsibilities. However, below are some of the overarching skills and personality traits needed to succeed in the field. and tell us that successful fashion merchandisers are:

Excellent communicators

● Self motived

● Able to handle high pressure situations

● Always learning and researching fashion trends and competing brands

● Creative and offering up fresh new ideas

● Extroverted

● Skilled at Forecasting Fashion

● Analytical, looking at data such as consumer sales and brand needs

● Knowledgeable about target market and a brand’s demographic

● Trend-spotters

● Able to make connections (with influencers, celebrities, collaborations with other brands/designers, etc.)

Where can I find a Merchandising education?

An associate degree in business or merchandising will benefit a small brand merchandiser. If you’re hoping to pursue a major brand or haute couture merchandising, bachelors and masters degrees are what to strive for. A bachelor’s degree in fashion merchandising is most popular but you can also get a bachelor’s in business, business administration, an associates in business, fashion merchandising, fashion retailing, and many more. Every brand has different education requirements, so identify some key brands you’d like to work for then do your research to find out what specifically each is looking for- this will give you a  jumpstart towards your dream job of working in fashion merchandising! Below are some schools with fashion merchandising programs:

● Lim College

● Kent State University

● Savannah College of Art and Design

● Fashion Institute of Technology

● Florida State University

● The New School’s Parsons School of Design

● Baylor University

Wow! Fashion merchandisers truly do it all. Next time you’re noticing a brand, check out their retail and online presence, watch for their ads and promotions, think about how a fashion merchandiser helped bring that product to life….did it make an impression on you?  Was it impactful and if so, in what way?  Let the brands know through their customer service what is working and what you think could make the brand experience more meaningful to you. Fashion merchandisers enjoy the feedback and want to  hear from their followers.

To learn more about the different types of merchandising roles, crucial steps to merchandise planning, what are  5 R’s and more, check out this article from

Thanks for reading today!  Are you curious about other  roles in the fashion industry?  We will be covering lots of jobs in the industry to stay tuned

for more to come.


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