Some undergraduates enter a fashion degree with dreams of becoming the new Stella McCartney or Vivienne Westwood. However for the majority this never materialises. If you’re considering a fashion degree or are about to graduate, what other career paths are open to you?
This is a key role within a retail chain, as you’re responsible for what goes into the stores. You need to identify the new season trends and what will appeal to your customers, to ensure that you buy the right pieces. This is a varied role; from travelling the world to meet with designers to checking stock levels across the stores.
Within the role you’ll work with designers and other departments to decide on the new collections. You’ll need to know what elements are important to the store’s consumers, such as price point or quality of the product, as well as having an in-depth knowledge of where the brand is positioned in the market.
In addition to a keen eye for detail, a fashion buyer also needs to have a head for numbers to keep the stores profitable. You’ll need to work within any budget restrictions and understand profit margins, so that goods are bought and sold for the right price.
A merchandiser will often work alongside a buyer and in smaller companies the roles might be carried out by the same person. You’ll predict upcoming trends and liaise with the buyers and designers to decide how much of a particular item to buy. Part of the role will centre on maximising the profits of each individual piece, so you need to have financial accuracy and good business acumen.
Once the stock is in store, you’ll monitor performance indicators and work with the distribution department to ensure that the stock levels are right. Merchandisers will also communicate with the stores directly to discuss promotional activities and set out how individual ranges are to be merchandised.
Retail Store Manager
Managers of big fashion brands need to have an extensive knowledge of the industry and a fashion degree is a good basis for this. As well as keeping up to date with trends, you’ll be responsible for making the store welcoming to customers so you’ll need to understand exactly what they’re looking for and which items will sell well.
The performance of your store will depend largely on its profitability. In order to achieve this you need to have the right levels of stock available, anticipate future trends and needs and keep abreast of what competitors are doing.
The role will also involve a range of administrative tasks, including working with current staff, interviewing new recruits, maintaining health and safety policies and having excellent levels of customer service.
The fashion industry doesn’t just stop with designers and there are a whole range of options open to graduates.