Fisher College Professor Catherine Murphy, the Fashion Merchandising Program Director, talks about internship and career opportunities in Boston, the future of the fashion industry and more.
A degree in Business and Managment opens the door to a wide variety of career paths, including fashion! Fisher students studying management can also choose to concentrate in fashion merchandising. Professor Catherine Murphy, the Fashion Merchandising Program Director, talks about internship and career opportunities in Boston, the future of the fashion industry and more.
Q: Fashion Merchandising is a concentration within the larger Management major. What advantages do you think that the general business foundation gives to Fashion Merchandising students?
A: A business foundation really sets the Fashion Merchandising program apart from other fashion related concentrations and programs.The business-oriented focus provides students more experience and knowledge related to business practices and law, leadership qualities, ethics, accounting, managerial responsibilities and practices, financing, human resources, and communications. Their background, knowledge, and expertise becomes more well-rounded and diverse, which is crucial for future success. Every segment of the fashion industry is deeply connected to business.
Q: When people think of the fashion industry, they think of New York. What kinds of fashion industry opportunities exist in Boston? Where have Fashion Merchandising students at Fisher interned in the city?
A: Boston has a wonderful fashion importance! There are several big name companies with headquarters located in and around Boston. The opportunities for students are limitless! Fisher College is located just blocks away from iconic Newbury Street where students have interned at so many amazing, top of the line fashion brands. Additionally, internship opportunities exist at places such as Talbots, TJX, Reebok, Burberry, Nordstrom, and Puma. There are fabulous retail locations all around Boston where students can intern and even find employment as well!
Q: From product development to marketing to fashion buying, it seems that there is a wide variety of careers that one can pursue in this field. What kinds of skills would you recommend for anyone pursuing a career in fashion merchandising regardless of their particular path? What kinds of skills should students be looking to pick up in their internships?
A: What is so incredible about the fashion industry is the diversity of fields within it. Textile development and design, fashion design, marketing, merchandising, product development, buying, allocation analysis, the list goes on. No matter what area of the fashion industry interests you, there is a place for you. I love how interdisciplinary the fashion industry is. It is one of the most exciting aspects. There are numerous paths that can be taken and students can follow a path that most speaks to their personalities and interests.
Regardless of the path a student chooses, there are certain skills that they need to be successful not only in the fashion industry, but really, any industry, including communication, team building, attention to detail, organization, creativity and analytical thinking. I also that think time management is a very important skill because it helps employees dedicate time and commitment to projects, stay on task, and stay focused.
Q: Which careers in fashion merchandising are growing the fastest?
A: Fashion is a competitive industry and it appeals to many. Positions within the fashion industry can be very exciting and rewarding. The positions I have seen growing are the ones in promotion and marketing. Buyers, trend analysts, and merchandisers are always very important and necessary positions as well.
Q: COVID-19 has affected the way people shop and interact. Since a lot of fashion merchandising careers have been focused within physical stores (visual designer, personal stylist, buyer) how do you think these jobs will be impacted as consumers are moving more and more online?
A: The pandemic has shown, or highlighted, the importance of technology and innovation. As retailers begin or continue to move to an online and digital presence, there will be a need for social content managers. We already see positions being created for social media management and promotion.
Additionally, the fashion industry has shown signs of going circular. The pandemic has obviously had a direct impact on economic spending and more people started realizing the ways in which they can utilize their existing wardrobe. There has also been more interest in reselling used clothing and fashion products. I’m hoping that we can learn from these trends and make the fashion industry more sustainable.
We have also seen more domestic production as overseas production became too expensive for retailers during the pandemic. Perhaps we will see a revitalization of domestic apparel production again. The fashion industry has become more innovative during the pandemic and it will be interesting to see how and if these changes will be a part of it going forward.
Q: Finally, are there any fun or interesting courses in this department that you’re especially excited about?
A: I am honestly excited about all of them. Fashion is such a hands on, creative field. A lot of the projects and assignments in the courses take this into consideration because I really want the students to be able to express themselves in class. There are so many beautiful personalities that enter these classrooms and I love giving them all a voice and ability to express that within their assignments and their work. To be able to show who they are. The courses offered are wonderfully diverse too. We have courses on historic costume, retail buying, product development, visual merchandising, and textile science. There is something for everyone and it allows students to really get an idea of what interests them the most, which is truly amazing.
Learn more about the Fashion Merchandising concentration at Fisher College.
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