By now, you probably know that by day I’m a fashion merchandiser for Perry Ellis. And you should also know that I absolutely LOVE what I do. I get a lot of questions about what I do on a day-to-day basis, so I thought I’d give you a REAL look at what I do between the hours of 9AM and 6PM as a fashion merchandiser.
I’m splitting this series into five parts and posting once a week for five weeks. Since these are going to be more lengthy, I don’t want to overwhelm you with a lot of text and merchandising lingo. So let’s get right into it – A Week in The Life Of a Fashion Merchandiser!
As a little bit of background: I decided to begin documenting what I really do on a day-to-day basis during a busy, busy week for me and my team. Our Sales team just finished wrapping up market appointments, and now it’s time to meet with Sales, Planning and Sourcing teams to go through the buys. This is a really important time for my team because we get to see what was actually purchased for Summer 2018. In reality, my job as a Fashion Merchandiser goes way beyond what I’m going to be sharing with you.
Before jumping into today, I was recently asked how much of my Fashion Merchandiser job is creativity vs. numbers based, and I’d have to say it’s a little bit of both.
Why? Because my team works with SO many other teams to ensure we’re putting out the best products for our customers. A Fashion Merchandiser works so closely with Design to make sure we’re coming up with a line that is cohesive and represents our brand. We work with Marketing to make sure labels/trims/hang tags are appropriate and call out any special properties. And we work with Sales to give advice on what we think their assortments should look like based on design direction. As Merchandisers, we know what colors, styles, patterns have done well for us in the past and need to make sure we’re pushing the envelope when it comes to new product. On the other (numbers) hand, my team is responsible for the SKU count each season: We make sure we are not over-or-under developing product categories. My team is also in charge of making sure we aren’t going too crazy with the budget – so I have to make note of sample, development and liability charges for all of our lines (Collection, Runway, 360 Active). And finally, my team is responsible for maintaining internal margins. That means we need to ensure that the cost of our product isn’t too high compared to our wholesale so that ya know, we make a profit.
Not to toot our own horn here, but Merchandising basically is the glue that holds every team together to ensure we’re working as one;) We’re pretty cool.
Okay, so let’s get to DAY 1 IN THE LIFE OF A FASHION MERCHANDISER!
MONDAY Of course I’m running late. It’s Monday, ugh. But that’s okay. I’m lucky enough that I don’t need to be at work “exactly” at 9AM, so I still had time to grab some Starbucks and oatmeal. I knew I was going to need it to kick off the week on a good foot.
This week is the beginning of a busy, busy next two weeks. Now that (most) market appointments are over, we need to sort through buys. Basically, “market week” is never just a week. The prep work is all finished – my team made sure Sales has everything they need to get their accounts to place orders. Sales did their job, and now we come together with a few other teams to be on the same page as far as what was purchased and then proceed into production.
So on this Monday morning, we go into our first ATS meeting. An ATS meeting is when Merchandising, Sourcing, Sales, and Planning come together to go through style by style and see what account bought which product.
We go through every detail of every style: Does it need to change fit? What about sleeve length? Should we up the wholesale or retail? Do we have enough units to cover minimums? Does International want to book this too? How’s our internal margin look? These are some of the typical questions that come up during our review of the line.
As a Fashion Merchandiser, it’s my job to present each style to everyone and go through these details. We make sure Sales feels supported based on the feedback given from accounts, make sure Planning has all of the information set up in their system, and make any necessary notes that we might have to relay back to Design. This particular ATS meeting was for bottoms, jackets, and outerwear categories. It went a little shorter than usual because Summer market isn’t a big time period for this type of product. Which makes sense, right? Not too many guys are buying outerwear pieces or are looking to get a new suit. Summer is definitely a more casual season.
Since ATS didn’t go the entire day, I was able to get back to my desk and begin going through emails. Most of my communication is done with our overseas offices, so I usually come into the office with a ton of emails. Luckily, I got to them all before lunch. Before I step out to get lunch, I catch up on some blog work: answering emails, going through social media, and responding to any necessary messages. I check in on blog related work whenever possible – without being distracted from my actual work.
During market, it’s always tough to remember that the show still goes on. So while I’m worrying about making notes and updates from the ATS meeting, a million other things are happening. On this particular day, I was also tasked with finding an extremely old best seller pant reference from 2014. None of our offices had a reference of it, and all we had was a random photo we found online. UNTIL…my bottoms/jackets/outerwear (aka BJO) designer found a development sheet with a cutting of the fabric on it! SWEET. One less thing I had to worry about. Phew.
While we’re wrapping up Summer 2018, we’re in the process of designing Holiday/Resort 2018. As a Fashion Merchandiser, it’s our job to ensure calendar dates are met so that we can get samples in on time. The Holiday/Resort timeline is always so tricky, so my team really needs to stay on top of everyone when it comes to timing.
Thankfully, I finished all of my work by 6PM, so I don’t need to stay late to wrap things up!
Stay tuned for next week’s Week In The Life Of A Fashion Merchandiser: Part 2!