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Fashion Essay, Research Paper

When this assignment was first given to me I really wasn t sure how I was going to approach it. A lot has changed since this assignment was first given to me. I knew I wanted to major in Fashion but I was not quite sure which field I wanted to work in after College. This paper, although it has been a ton of work, has sort of been a blessing for me. After the interview process some ideas were brought to my attention that I wanted to follow up on. So I did a few more interviews, one that you will read about later in this paper, and narrowed down my choices of actual working fields down to two. These two fields of fashion seemed to intrigue me the most and also seem to fit my lifestyle the best. When I say fit my lifestyle the best I mean at the present time while I am still young and unattached. I feel that you are only young once and the time to settle down and have a family will always be there. You ll understand what I mean after reading this paper. We ll the two fields I have chosen to go into are either becoming a Fashion Coordinator or becoming a Retail Buyer. As you read on you will receive an in depth description of each of the jobs duties, advantages and disadvantages, earnings, preparation, future prospects, earnings, the nature of the actual job, and finally my choice between the two very similar fields. I will start first with the job of a Fashion Coordinator.

Nature of Work

Fashion Coordinators, also known as fashion stylist, wardrobe stylist, wardrobe coordinators, and fashion consultants, promote new fashions and coordinate promotional activities such as fashion shows to encourage acceptance by customers. Fashion coordinators are employed by manufacturing houses, textile firms, independently, and by retail stores to coordinate the marketing of fashion clothing. Those working in large retail stores may specialize in coordinating the work of several fashion departments to promote a wider range of products. They may be required to travel interstate or overseas to become aware of advance fashion trends. Working as an independent, the coordinator may be hired by television companies, actors, directors, and individual people who need help in their styling.

The first and constant task of coordinators is to keep up with fashion trends. To accomplish this, they read fashion journals and trade papers, go to fashion shows in the United States and in Europe, and study the consumer market. These coordinators do more than just watch the media and read; they scout social, cultural, sport events and nightclubs. From the observation they make, it is their job to predict new styles and chose fashion ideas and items that customers will buy. Since fashion coordinators are one on one with new trends they often travel with store buyers to choose new merchandise.

When coordinators are not on the road they are in the stores. While in the store, fashion coordinators prepare fashion forecasts for buyers; merchandise managers, sales staff, and management. A great deal of research is put into this effort and coordinators must always keep in mind the category of the fashion cycle they are in so that they are not too ahead of what their stores or customers target market is looking for. After the research is complete, they present the overall fashion picture to store personnel through clinics and workshops. In meetings with merchandise mangers, buyers, and sales staff, they discuss advertising, display, color forecasts, buying trips and other affairs.

Besides following new trends, assisting buyers and managers, they are also in charge of informing employees of seasonal plans and promotions. Fashion coordinators realize that the key to reaching customers is through the stores. They need to make sure that the fashion and merchandise in one department does not conflict with the merchandise in another department. Trends usually have themes that are maintained from the shirts to the shoes, including all accessories. Promoting different trends confuses the customer and may result in lost sales. To accomplish sameness throughout the departments, they instruct a visual merchandiser or set up the displays by themselves. In addition to this, some coordinators meet with copywriters, publicity staff and others to exchange ideas and to do all they can to help the store prosper. Coordinators approve fashion layouts and help with news and photo releases for newspapers and other media.

Fashion coordinators are always six months to a year ahead of the calendar. They look ahead to decide what the public will want and need in fashions and accessories and prepare both the stores and the consumers to welcome the fashion they present. Fashion shows are also developed solely by fashion coordinators or with the help of the sales staff. Coordinators choose the theme, they type and price range of the goods to show and display techniques. They also decide the time and place, book models and hire musicians and personnel for behind the scenes. Arranging for decorations and flowers, setting fitting times for models and arranging the transfer of garments and accessories from the store to the show are also requirements for the fashion coordinator.

Personal Qualifications

It is obvious that fashion coordinators must have a flair for fashion and a sixth sense of what the public will buy. Presenting ideas is easy, presenting ideas with imagination and sensitivity to what is upcoming and ahead is not easy. They should have creative talent to find new ways to present fashion, materials, and styles season after season. Thinking alone does not work; fashion coordinators also need to be doing. They themselves must be models of stylish dress and good grooming with an interest in color, design, style and fabrics.

Behind the scenes, they must be well organized and able to delegate work. They should always be enthusiastic and able to cooperate with others. Self- motivation, quick decision-making, and confidence are important in such a fast paced environment. A main characteristic for a fashion coordinator is to develop a keen understanding of the customer s wants and needs.


A college degree with a liberal arts major in English, Public Relation, business, textiles, or design is acceptable preparation for fashion careers. A program of study in a school of fashion design or merchandise management is also good for this work. Students may also have relevant courses in clothing analysis, visual merchandise, fashion research, marketing, and buying fashion apparel is helpful. Completing and internship in a related field is very beneficial, if not required.

Though the world today seeks employees with a degree, it is not always a must. Though fashion coordinators need not meet rigid requirements, they must have the skills to do the work. Useful studies in high school and possibly college include English, journalism, public speaking, drama, distributive education, family and consumer economics and voice. Art courses such as sketching and drawing and courses that deal with fabric, color, design, style, sewing and fashion are also valuable. Some fashion coordinators get their positions from advancement while working in stores along with the coordinator.


Advancement is a key word that relates to just about any job (unless your father is the president of the company!). Any job that has positive outlooks for advancement and higher earning is a bonus. Fashion coordinators may also belong to any of several organizations that promote the interest of fashion and merchandising. The council of Fashion Designers of America consists of members engaged in creative fashion design, wearing apparel, fabrics, jewelry and accessories. The Fashion Group International is a fashion group of about 6,000 women executives, which offer job consulting, and managing affairs while traveling to fashion centers to inform perspectives of the industry. Another advantage of becoming a fashion coordinator is the social events and the traveling throughout the United States and Europe. Though they are almost always on the move, they get to meet people and see many different places all around the world.


A major disadvantage for fashion coordinators is the awful hours. The day never runs Monday through Friday 9-5. Fashion Coordinators almost never have a steady workweek. Besides working during the day in the store departments and/or their offices, they use evenings, weekends and other free time to make plans, catch up on job related reading and to travel to markets or fashion centers. Another disadvantage for them is the lack of jobs. Though once you get a job you advance, it can be a struggle to get into the field.

Future Prospects

Fashion alone is a way of life and will never disappear unless we all decide to stop wearing clothing. The field of fashion coordination is very competitive and jobs are very scarce. Merchandising and the fashion world attract many more qualified applicants than there are jobs to give them. Also, the strong trend towards large national chains and central offices reduces the need for fashion experts in extensively large quantities. These factors may sound discouraging but fashion coordinators with talent and perseverance will find work and advance. Fashion, however, is a basic industry that offers a large array of jobs and work that is steady.


Income varies with size and status of the store or company, the demands of the job, the geographic location and of course the experience and skills of the applicant. In the working world we all know that pay increases overtime. Most people with the titles and duties of fashion coordinators have worked several years in jobs that pay up to $30,000 or more a year. Most start at about $40,000 but with more experience and skill they soon advance to $60,000. Top coordinators in large well-known stores can earn $85,000 or more a year and enjoy travel and social benefits as well. Sometimes fashion coordinators operate their own businesses and may earn $200 to $400 at each home show. Top sales people in these businesses can earn several thousand dollars each month.

The Interview

While I was attending the fashion conference this March with one of my cousins in Livonia, MI, I overheard a wardrobe stylist speaking of her career. I interrupted her and asked if it would be possible to contact her regarding this paper. She gave me her personal business card and I gave her a call. Lynn Gorial is an independently employed Fashion Coordinator who has done most of her work with television. Lynn started to go to college to study Apparel Merchandising and Design and after two years got bored and wanted to be out in the real world. Lynn had always been inspired by television so she wrote a letter to the costume designer for the television show In Living Color . This letter was accompanied by a collage of ideas for the dancers and cast on the show. After a week she was invited to watch the show. Lynn had no intentions of just watching so as soon as she arrived she volunteered to do anything possible from getting from getting coffee to pushing wardrobe racks. After two weeks of working for this show and television show Martin that was produced by this company she went on to working as the wardrobe stylist for all the ABC Saturday Morning shows including Saved by the Bell and Hang Time . She said that for each show or each job, including fashion shows, it is a different set of responsibilities. One of her toughest responsibilities is actually dressing the actors and models that all have a different attitude or opinion. She says that she just got her job done while trying to avoid many comments and sexual advances from her big time actors. The work she does prior to dressing the actors includes many committed hours of research and brain picking to decide what the employer actually wants. She said that you have to deal with those who know exactly what they are looking for and those who have no idea. Trying to get into the heads of these people takes a creative mind and much perseverance to continue to pull ideas out of their mouths. Sometimes she works alone and other times she has a creative team which assists her on developing a mood or look for the occasion. Other responsibilities include sizing, fittings, steaming, and ironing on the set and researching trend of the set. There is no average day in Lynn Gorial s life. She has recently moved from California to Michigan where she is struggling to find a job. She said that she was very surprised at the difference between having a degree and not having one. In California she got the big jobs without the degree, in Michigan she flashes and impressive resume but they never get to the work experience after they read her educational experience. I did not ask why she moved to Michigan but I got the feeling that she intends on moving soon. After further discussion, I also discovered that she worked at Hudson s. She has been flying around getting jobs here and there, and she did mention she is still making good money. The thing she enjoys most about her job is looking on television or on the runway and knowing that she was the reason for their stylish look. The most important advice that she could leave with me was to push hard. Loving what you do, highly motivated attitude, a strong personality and a sureness of yourself will take you a long way. She said that you could apply for a job with a resume; you have to apply with talent and evidence that you can do the job. She knows she should have stayed in school, but she would have not gone as far without pushing.

Retailing Career: Retail Buyer

Nature of the Work

Buyers hold a huge role in the retailing industry. They have many responsibilities that are detrimental to a company s success. Buyers have the responsibility to select and order merchandise to be sold in the retail store. The skill with which they do this directly affects the sales volume of their store and its share of the total retail market. They may buy for a department, an entire store, or a chain of stores, depending upon if they are centralized or decentralized buyers, for example. There are two general types of buyers that work for retail stores. The first buyer works under a merchandise manager. This type of buyer works with salespeople to show them distinctive features of the products the buyer has chosen. The second type of buyer deals only with purchasing, with no supervision, and they cooperate with sales staff to maximize sales. There are also some buyers that work for larger retail businesses that often handle one or a few related lines of goods, and are referred to by the type of goods that they purchase, such as a sportswear or handbag buyer. Buyers in small stores often manage the department for which they buy. They may also train and supervise sales and clerical staff, while planning advertising, displays and sales promotions. These buyers have additional work they must do aside from their buyer position. Central buyers work for chain stores and mail order houses. They may be located in divisional headquarters, the parent store of a chain, or in offices in wholesale market areas. Resident Buyers may be employed by one firm or they may they may sell their services to many firms.

Retail buyers have a lot of duties that are carried out, some of them everyday, and other duties carried out sporadically. Some of the tasks that they may perform include:

Obtaining information from store executives and salespeople about stock levels and fast and slow-moving goods

Considering which goods will sell well in particular locations, and the prices customers are willing to pay

Researching consumer demands and trends by processing store sales and inventory reports

Managing and analyzing stock levels and order points using computers and statistics

Trying to anticipate changes in customer demand for particular goods, as goods must be purchased well before their sale to customers

Inspecting, comparing and selecting goods at either manufacturers or agents premises

Contacting suppliers to replenish stocks

Being aware of relevant legal information, for example, consumer rights and store licensing

Communicating frequently with store management to discuss planning, budgeting, sales promotions and advertising campaigns

Attending trade fairs and other displays interstate and overseas to obtain information about the range of products available

All of these tasks are of equal importance in being a successful retail buyer.


While in the past a college degree was not required, it has become not only important, but also a necessity for most companies. They also need to have good planning, budgeting and time-management skills. They should have good written and oral communication skills, and it is important that they are skilled in making calculations, using computers and the Internet, and have good decision-making abilities. Other personal requirements include knowledge of, or an interest in, the retail market, good organizational skills, a willingness to travel, and they also must be good with figures and numbers.


There are a number of things a person must do in order to become a retail buyer. As mentioned above, a college diploma or university degree in business, marketing or a related program is usually required in order to work in this field. Some related courses one can take include Sales and Selling, Sales Management, Warehouse and Storekeeping, and International Trade. Many businesses want a buyer that has experience as a sales representative or sales supervisor. Most companies want their buyers to have a complete understanding of the way their store is run before taking on the responsibility of buying for their company. Starting off in a sales position at the company that you are interested in buying for will give you the understanding of consumer tastes and preferences, and even the culture of the store.

Advantages and Disadvantages

There are a number of advantages of being a retail buyer, while there can also be many disadvantages. I believe it really depends on the type of person you are to determine if these are advantages or disadvantages. A retail buyer works in a dynamic and fast-paced environment, but the atmosphere can be very stressful when decisions need to be made hourly. There can also be long and irregular hours especially during holidays. Buyers must also visit merchandise showrooms, especially in key regions like New York, Chicago, and even Europe, but that hardly sounds like a chore for some people! But while these trips may sound glamorous, they are actually very demanding. A buyer may visit six to eight suppliers in one day and must quickly estimate the potential profitability of many products. Problems also occur when families are involved, because it is then hard to travel and have irregular hours.

Another type of advantage of being a buyer is the fact that one s true characteristics can really shine through, that is, if you have the right type of personality. Buyers should be: outgoing, confident, persuasive, competitive, able to make good judgments, practical, efficient, willing to take risks and make mistakes, able to take criticism, adaptable to different situations and environments, aware of fashion and trends, and culturally sensitive, tactful and diplomatic for working with foreign clients. If a person thinks that they possess these traits, they may have the perfect job. Although it is important to remember that weakness in even one of those things can really make it difficult to perform this job effectively and efficiently.

Future Prospects

In regards to moving up in the retailing business, most buyers do begin in retail sales and move up from there. They may become head of stock and then become assistant buyers. Many large chains operate executive training programs for college graduates. Buyers can become merchandise managers and supervise other buyers. Some buyers have even become vice presidents of merchandising or store presidents.


Although salary ranges may vary, the average income of a buyer is $50,000 – $62,000 a year. The top earnings range from about $65,000 – $75,000 a year. These earnings depend on sales volume of the store, location, type of merchandise, and possible supervisory roles. Salary is highest in large chains and well-known specialty stores such as footwear and women s apparel stores.

I feel that by doing this assignment, my knowledge of these jobs has increased dramatically. I now know what each job entails, its benefits and weaknesses, and the type of person I have to be to handle the high stress factor of each job. I am know even more determined to work my way up the ladder in school and in making job contacts since it is not the easiest filed to get into. I think the job of being either a Retail Buyer or a Fashion coordinator fits my personality extremely well. I love being in a fast-paced environment, and I have very good stress management skills (you have to in college!). Since I told you earlier I would give you my choice in jobs it would have to be being a Fashion Coordinator. I feel I have a real knack for being able to pick up fashion trends. It would be an ideal job for me to be able to set the fashion trends for the upcoming seasons. I would be able to work with people, which is something that I really enjoy. Working with models is every mans dream. I would be able to travel around the world for free and hang out in the best nightclubs to see what people were wearing. The hours would be irregular but I tend to be an irregular person. To me being able to see the world at my age would be worth the hectic schedule. In the beginning of the paper I mentioned settling down and that is something that I would not have the privilege of doing while working in this field. But at this point in my life I think living on the road and staying in hotels would be perfect for me. I have always wanted to see the world why not do it and get paid for it. Eventually I would want to settle down and maybe just do some consulting in my field and get a desk job. I am going to have to do more research to find out which one suits me best but I will cross that bridge when I come to it.

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