A merchandiser, or an apparel manager, is the bridge between the design and the production teams. Their primary responsibility is to deal with the buyers.
What do they do?
These managers can work in retail where the role includes inventory control, deciding on what to buy, identifying store locations or in an export house where they decide on production, manufacturing, sourcing, etc. They have to manage products, many of which become obsolete after one season. They can work in brands such as Benetton, Levi’s, Pantaloons; retail chains; export houses or sourcing companies (where they manage the supply chain) and outsourcing firms which are links between foreign clients and Indian manufacturers. Apparel managers (in India) may be busy working on a US order for shirts which require cotton bought from Australia, woven in Pakistan, dyed and finished in Sri Lanka, and manufactured in Bangladesh.
- Commercial acumen
- Ability to multi-task, manage change in a fast-changing market and perform under tight deadlines
- Strong interpersonal skills and team spirit
- Quantitative aptitude
- Be detail-oriented
- Be creative
- Be able to handle a crisis calmly
- Good communication skills
How do I get there?
There are no pre-requisites for you to get into the profession. You may come from any background provided you have talent for this kind of work. After completing your Class 12 in any stream, you can look at institutes offering programmes in apparel management and related fields. Some institutes do offer undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in apparel merchandising, fashion marketing and fashion management. Admission to most institutes is through an all-India entrance exam.
Typical day in the life of a Apparel Manager
9.00am: Meet buyers; do sample follow-ups
11.00am: Flip through various fashion magazines
2.00pm: Coordinate with vendors, and track the movement of unshipped orders
3.00pm: Meeting with commercial team
4.00pm: Search the web for new trends, cuts and colours in apparel design
6.30pm: Check arrangements for upcoming trip to Milan
7.00pm: Leave for home
Pros & Cons about this career
You work in a dynamic, fast-changing market
If you can’t multi-task and manage the work in a multi-team environment, it can cost the company a big order
Long working hours can take a toll on your social life
It’s a global field. You get the chance to travel across the world and gain international exposure. Many Indians have gone on to work in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Australia and the US