When you think about fashion, it is so easy for your mind to jump to design. Design is a lot like the lead singer of a band, but you still need backup singers, musicians, instruments and other equipment make the show! Hey, you and I both know that Beyoncé is amazing, but she CANNOT do it alone!
Now that I have addressed the obvious, we can go on to discuss what the other divisions are. I will share them with you monthly because there are too many to talk about in one post and people have the nerve to say fashion isn't a real career?!
To kick off, I will focus on some popular departments in the industry. Yes design is THE most familiar and I WILL get to that soon, but I think the other departments need more exposure and some recognition.
So, the first division I am going to talk about is....
WHAT DOES A MERCHANDISER DO?
Okay, the question is, what does a Merchandiser do exactly? Well, when you go shopping in a store, the product that you see on the racks and displays that's the Merchandising Department. Their opinions on product carries a lot of weight in the company. What they do is forecast the latest trends and observe the behavior of customers. For example, what they buy, what colors and styles. In addition, they make product performance comparisons such as, what style of shirt had the most sales. After they sort through this information, they make predictions about products that will do well and what they want to see in stores for the upcoming seasons. Next, they pitch to design, product development and production what they want to manufacture for the next quarter. They look at the types of fabrics and price ranges they want to “hit”, meaning what they want to charge customers along with overall sales profits.
To give you an example of what I mean, let’s use Kanye West’s Yeezy Boost sneakers as the product. So the Yeezy 750’s sold 150,000 units (sneakers) in the first week in the colors of black and grey, but the red 350’s barely sold 10,000 its first week.
ANALYSIS & FORECASTING
Based on this information, the Merchandiser would go back to the creative team and say “hey guys, overall the Yeezy Boosts were great! We sold out within the first month. Lets do more of those for next season and add another neutral color since the grey and black versions sold so well. Drop the red 350’s and create another two styles, a 550 which, would be a mid-range and the 150 at a slightly more affordable price.
The teams consult on it, come up with the concepts for the new additions and develop samples. If all is well, the sneakers will go into production and the Merchandising team will relaunch the product by creating a “story” of the new and updated items in the store.
Depending on the company, some of the duties of a Merchandiser vary. In spite of the differences, the goals are the same. I can tell you from experience that I have yet to see a company run their divisions identically.
Of course, there is much more to merchandising than this! However, your time and attention span have limitations so, I tried to give you the shortest, succinct version possible.