How to Become a Fashion Merchandiser



Career Path Guide

The first step in trying to become a fashion merchandiser, is to determine if this career path is a good fit for your skills, interests and personality traits. If the following description sounds like you, then you’re probably well suited for it:


• You have a love for fashion

• You are well versed in the history of fashion

• You have a keen eye and killer instincts for trends

• You have charisma and assertiveness

• You enjoy meeting new people and negotiating

• You understand colors and patterns in fabrics, and the psychology and behavior of consumers

• You are interested in a career path that allows you to combine art with business

• You have an education related to fashion merchandising or marketing


Below we've outlined what you'll need to begin a career as a fashion merchandiser. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, educational requirements, a list of possible employer types, and much more!



What Education Do Fashion Merchandisers Need?

A career as a fashion merchandiser requires expertise in both business and fashion. For this reason, it is recommended that you pursue a diploma or an undergraduate degree in fashion merchandising if you want to work in this field, as it will provide you with skills, knowledge and competencies in both of these areas. Employers may hire you without such an education, or with an education in a related field, however a program in fashion merchandising is the most directly applicable for becoming a fashion merchandiser.


An undergraduate bachelor’s program is recommended rather than a diploma, as bachelor’s programs provide more in-depth study on subjects, which equips the student with a more comprehensive understanding of different aspects of fashion merchandising. There are many schools, colleges and universities that offer diplomas, associate's and bachelor's degree programs in fashion merchandising. Subjects offered in these programs typically include:


• Fashion marketing

• Retail marketing and promotion

• Fashion buying

• Retail management

• Textile design and production

• The history of textiles

• The history of fashion

• Economics of the fashion industry


Many of these diploma and degree programs also offer internships and work placement opportunities. These programs are excellent for fashion merchandising students, as it allows them to gain real-world working experience in their chosen field, as well as develop invaluable fashion industry contacts. 





What is a Fashion Merchandiser?

A fashion merchandiser is a professional that works in the fashion industry; the term “fashion merchandiser” is a general term used to describe a professional within a larger category of people who buy, sell, manufacture, or promote fashions.


Depending on what capacity a fashion merchandiser works in (such as design, production, marketing, sales, etc.) they may hold a variety of career titles, such as fashion buyer, fashion director, retail store manager, textile merchandiser, fashion designer, showroom sales representative, product development manager, catalog production manager, and merchandise display artists, among others.



General Job Description

In general, fashion merchandisers are responsible for sourcing, purchasing, promoting and selling fashion items, such as clothing, shoes and accessories. This may involve developing promotional campaigns, displays and advertisements, directing manufacturing, as well as creating marketing or sales strategies for the fashion industry or the retail environment.


Their specific responsibilities depend on their job title and the interest of their employer, as some fashion merchandisers may work for manufacturers, distributors or producers, while others may work for retailers, advertising agencies or design studios.


Regardless of a fashion merchandiser’s specific position however, their general goal is to determine what fashion products consumers want, produce those products, and sell the maximum amount of those products to consumers, at a rate that is profitable for their employer.


Fashion merchandisers must analyze current market trends, and predict future fashion trends, in order to determine which fashions and garments that a particular store should stock. Once the necessary market analysis is complete, they must make the necessary preparations to ensure that the merchandise is accessible and appealing to consumers. This means they must ensure sales forecasts have been made, pricing has been analyzed and set, and the product displays in retail stores are effective.


To gain the market knowledge necessary to accomplish their goals, fashion merchandisers must rely on their own research, as well as reports produced by other professionals in the fashion industry.



Typical Job Duties

The daily, weekly and monthly tasks will vary among each specific profession that are part of the blanket term “fashion merchandiser”. In general however, fashion merchandisers are responsible for carrying out the following duties:


• Maintain current knowledge of fashion trends

• May be responsible for sourcing fashion items and negotiating wholesale purchase contracts

• May attend fashion shows and similar events to identify emerging trends and designers

• May work with retail managers to organize visual displays

• May be involved in setting retail prices for clothing items and accessories

• Liaise with other industry professionals, such as those in marketing, design, sales and production

• May be responsible for analyzing financial forecasts 

• Determine what fashions and garments that a particular store should stock

• Travel often and interact with buyers, suppliers and/or manufacturers

• Follow strict budgetary restrictions, when involved in fashion buying or production 

• May be involved in the manufacturing process of textile materials, including quality control or managing the activities of employees



Who Employs Fashion Merchandisers?

Fashion merchandisers may work as self-employed freelancers, owners of their own business, or as part-time or full-time employees of an organization. Their employment type will vary based on the capacity in which they work. For example, retail store managers will likely be employed on full-time basis, whereas many (although not all) fashion designers are self-employed.


Fashion merchandisers may be contracted or employed by almost any organization involved in the fashion business, ranging from designing, producing, promoting, and buying and selling fashion items such as clothing, accessories, jewelry, cosmetics and shoes. Such types of organizations typically include:


• Advertising agencies that work with fashion designers and retail organizations

• Fashion design studios

• Textile and fabric manufacturers

• Fashion publications (print and online)

• High fashion houses

• Fashion show production companies and individual fashion shows

• Media organizations (online, television or print)

• National department stores

• National retail chains

• Large clothing manufacturing and distribution companies

• Small retail stores, including specialty and consignment stores

• E-commerce stores

• Trade shows and farmer’s markets

• Their own retail stores, advertising agencies and other businesses

• Their own freelance businesses





What Skills Do I Need to Become a Fashion Merchandiser?

To be effective as a fashion merchandiser, and perform your job duties with competence, you need to posses a certain set of skills, including:


• A good understanding of retail math

• Well versed in the history of fashion (helps in trend forecasting for future consumer demand)

• An understanding of colors, patterns in fabrics and the psychology and behavior of consumers

• A keen eye and instincts for trends

• Able to look ahead to future projects while keeping an eye on current business

• Able to build good working relationships with suppliers

• Able to choose merchandise that will meet customer needs while also maximizing profits

• Able to maintain current knowledge of market demands

• Ability to negotiate for the best prices



What Characteristics Do Fashion Merchandisers Need?

To enjoy performing the duties of a fashion merchandiser, you'll need to have certain personality traits. Taking enjoyment from your daily, weekly, and monthly duties as a fashion merchandiser is important, as it helps you maintain a positive attitude towards your work, which can lead to having a long and successful career.


• A love of fashion

• Charisma and assertiveness

• A capacity to work very long hours

• Able to handle professional criticism

• Willingness to keep up with fashion industry changes

• Take enjoyment from blending art and business

• Enjoy advising customers and clients

• Willing to travel for work



Fashion Merchandiser Jobs - Current Postings

Our job board below has "fashion merchandiser" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.




Typical Salary Level

The salary level of fashion merchandisers can vary greatly. For example, that of a freelance fashion designer who is in the first few years of their career will likely differ substantially from that of a veteran marketing executive from an established retail organization. The following factors typically affect the salary level of those in this profession:


• What area of fashion merchandising they are in (i.e. buying, marketing, designing, etc.)

• Their level of education

• Their level of experience and aptitude

• The size and type of their employer

• The region in which they work


Fashion Merchandiser Salary Canada: According to the 2013 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey (the latest figures available at the time of writing), Albertans in the Retail & Wholesale Buyers occupational group earn an average salary of $45,891 per year. The Survey also states that the average salary level of workers in the Theatre, Fashion, Exhibit and Other Creative Designers occupational group is $24,101 per year, and that of Retail Store Managers is $59,779 per year. Unfortunately, no similar statistics were available from reliable sources for other Canadian provinces or territories at the time of writing (July 13, 2019).


Salary - United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual salary of American workers in the Wholesale and Retail Buyers, Except Farm Products occupational group is $58,210 per year. The BLS also states that workers in the First-Line Supervisors of Retail Sales Workers occupational group earn a mean annual salary of $41,450 per year, and that of Fashion Designers is $73,570 per year.



Similar Careers in Our Database

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to "fashion merchandiser", as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


Fashion Buyer

Fashion Designer

Marketing Coordinator

Retail Manager

Sales Representative




Please use the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a fashion merchandiser.


Occupations in Alberta:Visual Merchandiser.” (March 31, 2019). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved November 19, 2019.

Business & Financial:Purchasing Managers, Buyers, and Purchasing Agents.” (September 4, 2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved November 19, 2019.

Academics:What is Fashion Merchandising?” (n.d.). LIM College website. Retrieved November 19, 2019.


Please Note: Much of the information for this career guide was gathered from actual job postings, which due to the brief nature of their online presence, are not listed here as sources.



Scholarships for Becoming a Fashion Merchandiser

The “Relevant Majors” section below lists fields of study that are relevant for getting the required education to work in this field. You can search for relevant scholarships by finding those majors on our Scholarships page.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Relevant Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point for getting started in this field. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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