As a fashion management professional, you will be responsible for the oversight of the advertising, branding and sometimes the creation of a company’s fashion products. Fashion management professionals often are responsible for reviewing the reactions of consumers to new fashion products and fashion product campaigns. Many fashion management professionals also are responsible for the operations of retail stores, as well as supervising employees.

What Is Fashion Management?

Fashion management involves a complete understanding of marketing and how to sell, along with the skills of purchasing fashion goods and managing inventory. Students who earn a degree in fashion management will receive a good overview of how the entire fashion industry works, including what comprises an attractive garment to how to do a proper runway show, to how to analyze new fashion trends.

This career field also involves the intricate aspects of actually operating a fashion company or small business. Working in the fashion management field requires good business sense, an analytical mind, and a good eye for discovering fashionable designs that can be marketed successfully.

Some of the duties of fashion managers may include:

  • Engage in the study of current and past fashion trends to anticipate designs that may appeal to customers
  • Decide on the possible theme for a new fashion collection
  • Use CAD programs to devise new designs
  • Go to trade shows and manufacturers to get fabric samples
  • Choose colors, fabrics, styles and embellishments for all new garments and accessories
  • Work with designers to come up with new prototype designs
  • Show design ideas to other stakeholders and managers in the company
  • Market new designs to clothing retailers

Larger fashion and apparel companies may have a large team of designers that are managed by a creative director or fashion manager. Some fashion designers may specialize in clothes, shoes or accessories. Others may devise designs in all of these categories.

Many fashion management professionals and designers may create designs by hand, but many now use computer aided design or CAD to make their designs. It is helpful to use CAD because it allows designers to see their new work in a virtual way.

Opportunity

The need for fashion management professionals and fashion designers is mixed in the US market. The Bureau of Labor Statistics or BLS reports that employment in this field will rise by only 3% by 2026. This is slower than average when compared to other jobs.

Much apparel today is produced overseas because it is less expensive. This is why employment for fashion management professionals and fashion designers is slated to decline by ⅓ by 2026. This will reduce the growth of overall employment growth in the US.

However, it is anticipated that employment for fashion designers and managers in retail is going to grow by 22% by 2026. Retailers are starting to sell clothes that are more fashionable. This causes an increase in demand for fashion managers and designers to come up with new designs for shoes, clothing and accessories for the mass consumer market.

Generally, fashion management professionals with a formal degree in fashion design or management, strong fashion portfolio and demonstrable work experience have the best chances to land a job in this field. It also is common for many in the fashion industry to relocate to California or New York City, as this is where many fashion companies are located.

Career Paths

As of 2016, there were 23,800 fashion designers and managers in the US. The largest employers of these professionals were:

  • Piece goods, apparel, merchant wholesalers: 32%
  • Self employed professionals: 19%
  • Manufacturing of apparel: 11%
  • Video and motion pictures: 9%
  • Management of enterprises and companies: 8%

Many fashion design professionals may work for wholesalers or manufacturers that market apparel lines and accessories to large retailers, and other marketing organizations to distribute the products to stores, catalog firms and various online retailers.

Some workers with a fashion management degree may also work in these jobs:

  • Art director
  • Industrial designer
  • Purchase manager

Salaries

BLS states that the median annual wages for fashion design professionals is $65,100. The lowest 10% earned $33,700, and the top 10% earned in excess of $130,000 per year. Also, wages in this field vary based upon the industry in which you are employed:

  • Motion pictures and video: $79,100
  • Management of enterprises and companies: $76,300
  • Manufacturing of apparel, shoes and accessories: $68,200
  • Apparel and piece goods: $62,800

Below are some of the best paying cities for professionals employed as fashion management professionals and designers:

  • Boston: $82,800
  • Columbus OH: $81,600
  • Louis: $74,800
  • Salt Lake City: $71,600
  • Oakland: $71,100
  • New York: $70,200
  • Los Angeles: $69,800
  • Houston: $66,100
  • Seattle: $63,700
  • Philadelphia: $61,000

Some of these cities, such as New York and Los Angeles, have much higher costs of living than others. This is something to bear in mind as you are considering where to work in the fashion industry.

Employers

With a degree in fashion management, you could be in line to work for some of the best fashion design companies and retailers in America. Below are some of your best bets:

  • H&M
  • Tommy Hilfiger
  • Levi Strauss
  • Gap, Inc.
  • Zara
  • Gucci
  • Farfetch
  • Berluti
  • Zalando
  • Adidas
  • Calvin Klein

Bachelor’s Degree

The most common degree program in this field is the Bachelor of Science in Fashion and Marketing. Another common degree is the Bachelor of Science in Fashion and Retail Management. Students in these undergraduate programs will explore the marketing and business principles that are important in the fashion industry. You also will typically need to gain experience in the field through an internship in a fashion retailer, design house, or fashion wholesaler. Some of the courses you can expect are an overview of the fashion industry, product planning, consumer behavior, managerial accounting and the principles of marketing.

Master’s Degree

A master’s degree in fashion management is built to provide you with an advanced skill set in the fashion industry, with a global and entrepreneurial focus. Students in this master’s program will boost their creative and managerial skills in the fashion management industry. A master’s in this field may be a Master of Arts, a Master of Science, or even an MBA with a focus on the fashion industry. An MA degree is more focused on creativity and business, while the MBA is more focused on management of fashion organizations.

Online Degrees

There are fashion design and management degrees that can be earned at least partially online. You will however usually need to commit to undergoing an internship with a fashion-related organization to complete your degree. This can be done either in the city where the university is located or in your own area.

Admission Requirements

To be admitted into a master’s program in this field, below are some requirements you can expect, but they will vary depending upon the university:

  • Fashion portfolio
  • Official transcripts
  • GMAT or GRE scores may be required
  • Two or three letters of recommendation
  • 0 GPA
  • Resume with fashion related experience

Curriculum

Below is the curriculum required for the Lim College online master’s degree in fashion merchandising and retail management:

  • MPSR 651 – Advanced Fashion Merchandising
  • MPSR 652 – Consumer Behavior in Fashion
  • MPSR 653 – Fashion Retail Management
  • MPSR 654 – Fashion Branding and Promotion
  • MPSR 655 – Principles of Visual Merchandising
  • MPSR 656 – Retail Merchandise Management
  • MPSR 657 – Technology in Fashion Merchandising and Management
  • MPSR 658 – Product Development in Fashion from Concept to Consumer
  • MPSR 659 – Internship in Fashion Merchandising and Management
  • MPSX 700 – Developing and Exercising Influence in Organizations
  • MPSX 701 – Developing and Exercising Influence in Organizations

Financial Assistance

Earning a degree in fashion management is a serious time and financial commitment, but you can get financial help with the following grants and scholarships:

  • CBC Visual Arts Scholarship: $3000
  • Helen Brett Scholarship: $5000
  • Lyly Koenig Mendez Memorial Scholarship: $1000
  • Nellie Martin Carman Scholarship Fund: $2000
  • YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund: $5000
  • Vectorworks Design Scholarship: $3000
  • FIT Study Abroad Scholarship: $1000 to $5000
  • Cindy Edelstein Jewelry Design Scholarship: $5000

Associations

Students who want to make a career in fashion management can boost their career prospects by joining some of these fashion management related associations:

  • American Apparel and Footwear Association
  • American Apparel Producers’ Network
  • Fashion Group International
  • International Textile and Apparel Association
  • National Retail Federation
  • Council of Fashion Designers of America
  • Fashion Business Incorporated
  • Costume Society of America
  • United States Fashion Industry Association
  • Fashion Industry Association

The fashion management industry is highly competitive, and those who wish to enter it will have an advantage if they earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree in fashion management or merchandising.

References

Henry Steele
Henry Steele
Henry is Editor-in-Chief of Business Student.com. He is a seasoned business professional who regularly consults with local business's throughout Southern California. Henry pursued his undergrad in Business and Economics at the University of San Diego and gained valuable life changing experience through a unique internship upon graduation.

BusinessStudent.com provides students of business with the opportunities to get ahead in their career.