Why Every Designer Needs Fashion Merchandising
Fashion merchandising is a craft that no aspiring fashion designer should dismiss. It’s not simply putting clothes on hangers and mannequins. It’s presenting your brand as a lifestyle, an aesthetic, and a persona that your customers want to be a part of.
The best fashion merchandisers are able to balance creativity with commercial appeal. They can present clothes in a fresh, artistic way while still maintaining a sense of familiarity with consumers. Like fashion design, merchandising is a creative process but it’s pointless if it doesn’t result in sales.
If you’re a designer without extensive knowledge of fashion merchandising, you may be wondering where to start. Can you gain the skills you need to adequately merchandise your own products? Or do you need to hire someone else to do it? Get the answers to those questions and more with this guide to fashion merchandising.
What Is Fashion Merchandising?
As a fashion designer, you might think that your designs are beautiful enough to sell themselves. But the plain truth is that most people will not buy your fashions if they can’t envision how they’d wear them in their own life. That’s where fashion merchandising comes in. Much like a fashion production house, merchandising brings your fashion designs to life. Its purpose is to show consumers how, when, and where they can wear your designs.
Merchandising encompasses many areas of fashion, from visual merchandising to online branding. A fashion brand cannot thrive without these elements of fashion merchandising coming together.
Our Couturiere Showroom maximizes the power of having compelling window displays.
In the world of fashion, the terms visual merchandising and fashion merchandising are often used interchangeably. However, visual merchandising more specifically refers to the presentation of fashion products both in a store and through virtual outlets.
A great example of a store that maximizes the power of in-store visuals is Anthropologie. This women’s fashion and home goods retailer is known for its show-stopping window displays and art installations throughout their shops. Anthropologie display manager Tyler Ingle states that the brand’s visuals represent an amalgamation of high and low design, mixing innovation with resourcefulness and the ordinary with the extraordinary. This eclectic blend of grand artistry and hand-crafted charm is what sets Anthropologie apart from other retailers and makes customers want to step inside the store to explore more.
Traditionally, a fashion brand would present its visuals through window displays, mannequins, and on racks and shelves throughout its retail stores. But with the development of virtual media, visual merchandising has expanded into e-commerce, social media, email advertisements, and more.
These days, no fashion designer or brand can prosper without an online presence. You need to maintain a strong, consistent visual message throughout all online channels that makes consumers want to buy your product.
The following virtual merchandising methods can help you promote your fashion line, develop your online persona, and increase your reach.
- Social Media: Simply having an online store with flat photos of your products doesn’t cut it these days. Customers want to know what clothes look like on real people and they want to get ideas on how to wear them. That’s why every fashion brand must have an account on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest. This allows anyone in the world to view your designs. Merchandising can be done by posting images from photoshoots, photos of influencers and celebrities donning your fashions, and videos showing customers how to style your designs.
- Marketing Campaigns: When launching a new clothing line, it’s important to create momentum and excitement by telling a story through visuals. Many brands do this by curating marketing campaigns centered around specific events, fashion trends, or themes. For example, if you’re launching a new swimsuit collection, don’t just have a summer-themed marketing campaign. Cater it to the theme and inspirations of your designs. If your line was inspired by summers in the south of France, launch a 1950s French Riviera-themed campaign. Create a fantasy for your customers that they can live vicariously by wearing your designs.
- Online Visuals: A fashion designer’s website and online store should have visuals that express the tone and look of the designs themselves. The graphics, colors, fonts, logos, and layout should complement the designs. Fashion designers who recognize the impact of a strong online presence should invest time learning about online marketing and merchandising. That said, many fashion designers don’t have the skills or time to maintain an online presence, so they may hire a web or graphic designer to do this work for them.
To get into the business of fashion design, you not only have to have some degree of tech savvy but you also need to have experience in fashion merchandising and retailing — or at least hire someone who does.
Finding the Perfect Fashion Merchandiser
If you’ve decided to forgo merchandising your own brand and want to hire someone instead, here’s what to look for in a fashion merchandiser.
Naturally, you want to hire a person who has some education in fashion. This can be attained through fashion merchandising programs at trade schools or with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in fashion merchandising at a public, private, or liberal arts college.
Fashion merchandising majors have a well-rounded understanding of the fashion industry. They learn about design, fashion history, consumer behavior, visual merchandising, retailing, marketing, and fashion buying. This gives fashion merchandising students a broader perspective on how the business of fashion cannot exist without creative-thinking designers and vice versa.
Receiving an education in fashion merchandising is only part of what makes a good merchandiser. Having real-world experience working in retail can be even more valuable for learning how to effectively merchandise your fashions. Interacting with customers, observing their buying habits, and having a concrete understanding of what fashion products actually sell is key to learning how to be a good merchandiser.
When you’re interviewing candidates for a fashion merchandising role, ask them about retail experiences they’ve had and what they’ve learned from them. Most people who’ve held merchandising-related roles will tell you that they learned just as much, if not more, from working in stores and interacting with customers than they did in school.
When hiring merchandisers for your brand, look for candidates who’ve held positions as visual merchandisers, retail buyers, in-store stylists, or even in merchandising retail management. Individuals with these experiences have developed the communication skills necessary to interact with customers both verbally and visually through the art of retail merchandising.
Need Expert Help in Fashion Merchandising?
If you want access to a fashion production and merchandising team all in one place, look no further than TEG. We offer a creative strategy and planning services package that makes fashion merchandising for your fashion line much easier to navigate:
Creative Strategy and Planning – $1100/style
- Creative planning intake session
- Three-phase action plan
- Weekly check-ins
- Collection development strategy
- Overall design analysis
- Merchandise and assortment planning
- Competitive analysis
- Target pricing
- Optional sustainable practice planning
This package provides fashion designers with all-encompassing, in-depth, creative strategy and planning services. Our team of in-house fashion industry professionals will help you develop a fashion merchandising plan and get you on track to successfully launch your fashion collection or overall brand.
It’s Time to Fulfill Your Fashion Merchandising Needs
Fashion merchandising is where creativity and business meet. That’s why it’s crucial to have an online and social media presence, effective in-person and online visual merchandising strategies, and access to experienced fashion merchandisers who can help you assemble your designs into profitable merchandising displays.
If you’re set on having an expert manage your fashion merchandising, be sure to hire someone educated in merchandising and experienced in retail. However, if you don’t want to go through the tedious process of looking for and interviewing candidates, there is another option. You can fulfill your production and merchandising needs all in one place by working with TEG.
Our full-service fashion development and production house provides creative strategy planning for emerging and established fashion designers alike. If you want to get your brand off the ground or successfully launch your next fashion line, we can guide you through every step of the fashion merchandising process.
In addition to creative strategy planning, our expertise provides high-quality creative services like fabric and trim sourcing that you won’t find elsewhere. Our top-of-the-line sourcing managers skillfully guide you through sampling fabric swatches, negotiating minimums and prices, tracking orders, and more.
Whether you’re an emerging or established designer, we’ve helped over 2,000 designers during the last 15+ years bring their visions to life. We’d love to help you, too!
For all inquiries and questions, please call or fill out the below form, and we will respond within 1-2 business days. Thank you!
Los Angeles: 800-916-0910 | San Francisco: 415-324-8779