The Most Common Business Challenge in Fashion Merchandising
June 26, 2013
•IADT General, Fashion Design and Merchandising
• 0 Comments
Whether you hope to work for a small boutique or major department store, you are required to make decisions regarding what products are purchased. As a Fashion Merchandiser, it is your job to stay up-to-date on the latest trends.
There are many things to remember when you are buying merchandise for your company, creating displays and dressing mannequins. You must be conscious of your company, your customer and your trends. With all of these demands in mind, it is easy to see why the most common business challenge in Fashion Merchandising is: What do you, as a Fashion Merchandiser, buy to sustain and attract new customers?
This may seem like an easy question. Many people may say that you should buy whatever is trendy. However, trends are very complicated and they are hard to forecast. Trends appear quickly – and fade away even quicker. Especially in retail, knowing what trends are worth investing in may be difficult. You must be careful not to over-invest in a trend. On the other hand, you do not want to miss out on a profitable trend because you invested too little or not at all.
Consider these quick tips to know what to buy for your customers:
Do Your Homework
If you can, attend fashion trade shows and runway shows. Observe the trends that are being showcased. Take the time to talk with fashion designers about why they chose certain fabrics, silhouettes and color palettes. Understanding the designers may help you better understand the trend. You may also discuss what kind of shoppers they had in mind when they were designing clothes – ask designers what else might be in these individuals closets or what other designers these individuals might be wearing. Talk to fashion forecasters to get a sense of what might be on the horizon for fashion. Observing these predictives may put you ahead.
However, as a Fashion Merchandiser, you must do more than just talk to designers and observe showcases. You must have an eye for fashion. Look to alternative sources for inspiration – including street fashion, trends in art and trends in movies. Trust your instincts as you pick out emerging trends.
Know Your Customer
As a fashion retailer, the company you may work for has a specific customer in mind. This customer has not only a unique style that the company is addressing – he or she also has a specific budget. The customer is coming to your boutique or store because they know they can rely on you to meet their fashion needs in terms of style and budget.
Is the company a luxury company? According to an article from the eCommerce platform Fibre2Fashion.com, luxury retailers target high income customers who do not mind paying higher prices for fashion. These customers are not impacted by the poor economy. Fashion is a priority to them and they are willing to pay for it.
However, your company may be a near-luxury retailer – meaning it targets customers who enjoy keeping up with the trends and wearing stylish clothes. However, these customers will settle for near-luxury because they find luxury clothing to be outside of their budget.
Your company may also be a standard apparel retailer; it may target middle and lower income customers. These customers may not follow trends explicitly or they may wait for trendier clothes to go on sale.
As a Fashion Merchandiser, it is pivotal that you know your customer. If you are working for a standard apparel retailer, you cannot buy luxury items. The clothing would be beyond your customer’s means and would not sell. To be profitable – and to maintain your customer base – you must keep them in mind as you survey trends. Know who your customers are and what they want to buy.
Keep the Company’s Style in Mind
Companies can also be categorized based on style. Know what kind of clothes the company carries and what trends they invested in previously. It may also be helpful to know whether these trends were successful or not.
This is also essential to understanding your client, who comes to your store with a specific style in mind. Customers have expectations. If you work for a hiking apparel retailer, buying the season’s newest dresses will undermine the company’s style and confuse the customer. Your company is working to attract specific customers. Investing in trends that support that attraction may maintain your current customer base and attract like-minded clients.
Knowing when to invest in a trend can be incredibly difficult. However, it is essential for retail stores and Fashion Merchandisers to do so. Keep these tips in mind as you continue to work through your degree program. Look to your Fashion Merchandising instructors for more insight – and, by the time you complete your degree, you may master the skill.