Fashion is a competitive field where changing trends can make or break fashion designers and clothing retailers. Many fashion outlets, such as department stores, smaller retail stores and clothing labels, hire fashion merchandisers to buy, promote and sell products. Fashion merchandising can be a rewarding, hands-on career for those in love with fashion, but the first step in landing a job is to have a professional portfolio you can show to prospective employers and clients. This type of portfolio usually acts as an extension of a fashion merchandiser’s brand, or what they are known for, and distinguishes them from competition.
Education and Training
Develop your fashion merchandising portfolio by acquiring training, education and experience in the field. These elements can be imperative in supplying your portfolio with work samples that represent your brand. Fashion merchandising classes and internships are a good way of gaining experience to showcase in your portfolio. Also, any hands-on work you may have done as a fashion merchandiser or assistant fashion merchandiser can supply relevant fodder for a portfolio. Highlighting your best work from past training and experiences can develop a distinguished portfolio that is true to your brand.
Research the requirements of your potential employer or client and adjust your portfolio accordingly. For example, if you are applying for a fashion merchandiser position at a sportswear retailer, and your portfolio mostly has examples of your work in ballgowns, you may not be viewed as a good fit for that company. Adjusting your portfolio to suit the needs of the job by including more sportswear examples may help you get your foot in the door.
Keep your fashion merchandising portfolio on point with current trends. An outdated portfolio can negatively affect your brand and may result in fewer clients and jobs. For example, if wide-leg pants were popular a few years ago, but now slim-fit pants are popular, a portfolio full of wide-leg pant examples may hurt your chances of landing a job. Instead, keep your portfolio up-to-date with current trends by reading fashion magazines and watching fashion shows either in person or online, and translate this knowledge into the development of your portfolio through contemporary pictures of your work.
Editing is crucial in your fashion merchandising portfolio. Most fashion merchandising portfolios are a blend of written and visual elements such as pictures of work, biographical text about relevant experiences, reasons behind fashion choices in accompanied pictures, and reflections on fashion and merchandising. Poor editing in the written and visual elements of your portfolio can reflect negatively on how employers or clients may perceive you. Always check that visual pictures of your work best represent your brand, and that all text has been corrected for spelling and grammar.
Brand your fashion merchandising pottfolio by making sure it’s a cohesive package that reflects your eye for fashion. Choose a personalized theme that you can illustrate throughout your portfolio through pictures and text. For example, if your merchandising taste usually involves darker, Gothic fashion examples with a French flair, include pictures of your Gothic French fashion samples throughout your portfolio. Choosing a fashion niche and demonstrating your expertise of that niche in your portfolio will distinguish your brand and help give you a distinctive reputation.
Develop an overview of the situation in the fashion marketplace in which your business will operate. What are the fashion trends that you’ll capitalize upon? Who are the key competitors in your sector? What are the prevailing pricing structures in your sector? Where are efficiencies being realized in manufacturing and distribution? You will need to do your homework to answer these questions; in the process, you will come to know more about your business and your vision than you would have known otherwise.
Position Your Product
Determine what your product offering will be. Fashion is characterized by businesses at all levels of the spectrum from haute couture to Chinese imports. Within the fashion universe, you’ll need to determine what kind of fashion house your business will represent. Your business plan will need to demonstrate your unique product offering in words and images. Fashion trends change from season to season, but you’ll need to capture the broader essence of your product as a business liability.
You will need to select a name for your product line as well as legally trademark your label. Your design logo is part of your positioning your business.
Manufacturing Your Goods
Discuss how you will mass produce your product line if mass distribution is your business’ goals. Most clothing is manufactured overseas, and you’ll need to address the expertise of the company that will be manufacturing your fashion line in your business plan. You will need to note who your suppliers will be in your business plan.Targeting a high-end customer will allow you to charge significantly more for your designs, but your cost of goods will also be higher since you’ll need to use finer materials.
Financing Your Business
Determine your source of funding to create and manufacture your clothing line. Your business plan should reflect how you will balance those two opposing forces. You’ll need to state how your pricing and costs will result in profit or loss for a year or more depending on the extent of your plan’s scope.
Distribution of Merchandise
Discuss your plans for distributing your merchandise. Outline your plan for contacting store buyers operating in your area of the industry in person and at trade shows like Magic, the huge fashion apparel trade show. Make appointments to show them your clothing line as well as any press materials about yourself and your company. If your product is haute couture, you’ll want to reach out to specialty stores and individuals such as celebrities and offer them samples to feature in store or to wear on the red carpet.