By Frances Harder, April 27, 2016
Merchandising groups within your line is where fashion and business meet. Fashion merchandising involves designing and planning groups within your line so that each piece relates to other pieces within the group or line. Why is this important?
- To relate to your retailer who is buying for their store.
- It makes buying more convenient when you create a line that makes retail buying choices easy and obvious. Design your line so that when a buyer sees your line they will want to buy every piece of it. They see it and then can relate to it being displayed in their store, which will then hopefully lead to customers entering a store, or sees the store window display think “I want to buy all those fabulous pieces!” Then you/the creator, the retailer and the customer are all happy!
- Coordinate pieces to relate to each other. (This step is also an important part of your branding process of which I cover in Brand Building for Profit.) Having a recognizable label through the way you create your line through: look, fit and construction must all be consistent. If your line has hanger appeal but disintegrates after washing your customer will not be returning to buy more of your label!
Learning to merchandise a line is often one of the biggest learning curves after costing for a new creative company to understand. Fashion merchandising doesn't center on the styles alone; it entails a keen business and trend sense. Costing is also part of your merchandising strategy and at times it will be important to drop styles that have “costed” that item out of your market niche. (This is covered in my Costing for Profit book). Fashion merchandising calls for analytical ability. Knowing what sold well last season, in which location and then analyzing demographics will also help when planning your next season’s line.
Since you first started your business you will have identified your niche market. Your merchandise must consistently appeal to your end consumer, or your specific target group. Choosing separate pieces that can work together, mixing materials, fabrics and patterns and having an eye for color are all part of successfully merchandising a line.
A familiarity with the prior fashion fads in different locations is also warranted. Being conscious of existing industry developments and trends gives the fashion merchandiser a leg up, since they can forecast what is to come. But the most overall important thing in merchandising is to plan for your buyer and the end consumer. Realizing we are at the moment in an item driven market is important and then relating those items to merchandise together is the key!
Lots of creative designers don’t stop to take the time to merchandise. They just cannot stop being creative!