How Long Does Fashion Buying School Take?

Apparel shops, boutiques and department stores rely on fashion buyers to determine what pieces of clothing, footwear and accessories they should stock in their stores for each season. Fashion buyers are the professionals who are responsible for forecasting fashion trends and determining which products customers are more likely to buy. This is a position that involves building and maintaining excellent working relationships with fashion designers and suppliers so they can get the latest products at the best prices. It is also a highly demanding career since fashion buyers have to do research on the upcoming trends, attend trade shows and fashion shows and see to it that the items they choose to buy will actually be patronized by their clientele and will improve the company’s bottom line.

If this sounds like a profession you want to be in for the rest of your life, there are actually different educational avenues for you to get a foothold in the industry. For starters, you can get hired straight from high school without any experience and be trained on the job or you can have a bachelor’s degree in business and work as a fashion buyer. However, going to fashion buying, fashion marketing or fashion merchandising school will give you the comprehensive training you need to succeed in the industry. There are associate’s degrees and bachelor’s degrees in these fields. Associate’s degrees typically take around two years to finish while bachelor’s degrees take four years to finish.

While fashion merchandising or marketing courses can be taken on-campus, online programs provide the most flexibility for many individuals. It gives students the opportunity to work and balance the time they spend with their families. At the Art Institute of Pittsburgh-Online Division, the bachelor of science in fashion marketing and management can be completed in 45 months if a student takes 12 credits or even shorter if they take more credit load and are enrolled continuously in the program. On the average, students enrolled in their bachelor’s programs are able to complete the course in 51 months.

Southern New Hampshire University also offers the bachelor of science in fashion merchandising program online. It is a 120-credit course which teaches students color and textile theory, fashion marketing, consumer behavior, retail operations and management, among others. This also takes around four years to complete.

If you prefer a shorter route towards becoming a fashion buyer, you can also enroll in an associate’s degree program. The apparel industry management program of the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising is an associate of arts degree which takes about a couple of years to finish. Students who finish this program can also proceed with a bachelor’s degree if they so wish. Keep in mind, however, that while an associate’s degree means you’ll be able to start work faster, an increasing number of employers prefer bachelor’s degree holders.

When it comes to a career as a fashion buyer, experience in the field is a must. Thus, you must see to it that the program you enroll in provides internship opportunities where you can get your feet wet in the field and actually know what it’s like to talk with suppliers, attend trade shows, analyze market trends and make projections about the apparel, shoes, accessories and other fashion items that are most likely to sell. Choosing the right pieces of clothing and doing the actual negotiations with sales representatives in these internship opportunities will give you the confidence you need to do the work on your own.

Career Spotlight: Fashion Buyer

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