Being a fashion merchandiser — isn’t that the ‘job’ that makes apparel look pretty on the mannequins in retail? Today, a merchandiser must be well versed in their own business’ protocol as well their competitors. A career in merchandising involves a concrete knowledge of the manufacturing process, and how to buy, promote, and ultimately sell fashion goods / services. Additionally, a fashion merchandiser knows great details about the textiles process, from fiber type to fabrication techniques best for any particular fabric.
The necessary skill sets required for such a rewarding, fast paced career as a fashion merchandiser may be achieved by understanding trend forecasting, having an acute analytical ability, and being able to effectively communicate. While more scientific than fortune telling, fashion merchandising jobs do have a forecasting element. In order to improve your accuracy, you’ll need a thorough knowledge of past fashion trends and an awareness of current industry developments. A good sense of style obviously helps you; however, you must also determine how things fit into a budget and whether they meet the functional needs of consumers. Other criteria may also influence your fashion merchandising decisions, so you will need to be able to analyze a complex set of issues and stand behind your choices. From negotiating with manufacturers to getting your marketing message out to customers, there is ample opportunity to exercise your powers of communication in the fashion merchandising field (Description of Fashion, n.d.).
Last month, Wade College welcomed to the fall 2014 trimester a large, new group of first term students, as well as our continuing students. Wade College students quickly grow accustomed to a wide variety of industry opportunities at Wade College, beginning in their very first trimester. These opportunities range from one-day volunteer opportunities at industry events to short-term and long-term internships and paid work opportunities, to permanent placement in career-related, full-time positions with notable DFW-area companies.
The start of a trimester can bring students anxiety from trying to find a job, whether it’s to help pay for school or to gain the necessary work experience to ready a resume for a full-time career in fashion, interior or graphic design. Career Services at Wade College gave students a jump-start with their job search by bringing employers on-campus through our fall 2014 job fair. Employers and their representatives included Terry Costa, Dillard’s, Michael Kors, LOFT, The Army & Airforce Exchange, The Limited, Sunglass Hut, and ZURI Furniture. Job opportunities presented included part-time jobs, full-time jobs, and internships. Students from all levels and concentrations attended, dressed for success, with polished resumes in-hand. They had the opportunity to network with employers and learn about job opportunities that they each offered. Employers were impressed with the preparedness and professionalism of our students, each making a good first impression. Many students received scheduled interviews and, to top it all, several of them landed the JOB shortly after!
Job fairs are a one-stop shop. They are part of the job search resources offered by the Career Services department for Wade College students to meet one-on-one with employers at one time and at a convenient location on-campus. All in all, it was a success, especially when students become employed in positions that not only help pay their bills, but also enable them to gain industry experience while pursuing their studies! We are fortunate to have such a stellar Career Services department with tremendous industry connections at Wade College!
If you are considering enrolling in an art or design school, most likely you will need to have a portfolio of work that you’ve done to show the admissions committee. Current students will also be asked to assemble portfolios of the work they have completed while in school. At the end of your program, your portfolio will be reviewed and assessed for completeness and creativity.
At Wade College, Associate of Arts students do not need a portfolio for admission, but they are required to develop one while in school. A portfolio is required for those students enrolling in the Bachelor of Arts program. Associates degree program students participate in the Professional Portfolio Critique at the end of their fourth trimester. Students’ portfolios are first critiqued by faculty and then by an outside panel of industry professionals.
Are you panicking yet? Don’t worry—Wade College offers an entire class that will teach you how to assemble and market your portfolio. Not only do you want your portfolio to shine for your end-of-program review, but it will also need to impress those potential employers!
In addition to the Portfolio Planning and Design class, the Wade College library offers a number of books on planning and assembling your portfolio, whether you are a fashion design student, merchandising student, graphic design student, or interior design student.
Stop by the library and check out these books:
Portfolio Design, by Harold Linton
Design Your Fashion Portfolio, by Steven Faerm
Portfolio for Fashion Designers, by Kathryn Hagen
Portfolio Presentation for Fashion Designers, by Linda Tain
The Portfolio (DVD)
Developing and Branding the Fashion Merchandising Portfolio, by Janace Bubonia-Clarke
Design Portfolios: Moving from Traditional to Digital, by Diane Bender
Designing Your Fashion Portfolio: From Concept to Presentation, by Joanne Barrett
Graphic Design Portfolio Builder: Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator
Portfolios 01: An Essential Primer for Today’s Competitive Market, by Maura Keller
Building Design Portfolios: Innovative Concepts for Presenting Your Work, by Sara Eisenman
Portfolios for Interior Designers: A Guide to Portfolios, Creative Resumes, and the Job Search, by Maureen Milton
Winning Portfolios for Graphic Designers: Create Your Own Graphic Design Portfolio Online and In Print, by Cath Caldwell
No Plastic Sleeves: The Complete Portfolio Guide for Photographers and Designers, by Danielle Currier
Creating Your Digital Portfolio: The Essential Guide to Showcase Your Design Work Online, by Jan Clazie
How to Create a Portfolio and Get Hired: A Guide for Graphic Designers and Illustrators, by Fig Taylor
If you are not a Wade College student, check your local library or Amazon for these titles and help yourself create an amazing fashion design portfolio, merchandising portfolio, graphic design portfolio, or interior design portfolio.
I taught at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York for six years and in that time I came to discover how important an institution’s connection is with its professional industries. I taught graduating seniors who were completing internships at high profile companies like Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren or Calvin Klein. While these students were fortunate to have these opportunities, there were many students, typical of large institutions, who are left without career services opportunities. When I was recruited by Wade College , a small, private merchandising and design institution in Dallas, TX, I immediately connected with its similar philosophy of remaining connected to the institution’s industries and employment opportunities. The difference, however, is in Wade College’s size. What’s incredible is the number of job opportunities that come from the adjacent Dallas Market Center and the Design District, across the street. Unlike the Fashion Institute of Technology and similar institutions where enrollment spirals into the thousands, a boutique institution like Wade College can really service every one of its students with meaningful industry experience that often leads to gainful employment. As a native New Yorker, I did not realize, before relocating, how sizable the fashion and interior design industries are in Dallas. The Dallas Market Center is the largest collection of wholesale showrooms in the world. The Design District is among the largest collections of interior design wholesale resources in the country. And Wade College, among the oldest creative institutions in Dallas, is literally in the middle of it all. You can’t imagine how exciting it is to be a part of this kind of demand! I take great pride in seeing my students – all of my students – engage in every fashion, interior and graphic design opportunity that comes our way.