Fashion and Retail

Meet Your Industry Advisor

Victoria Suarez

Victoria Suarez Fashion and Retail Industry Advisor

Retail is an industry that everyone has a part in. It is the sale of products to individual consumers (as opposed to businesses). The fashion side of the retail industry offers careers as textile designers, costume designers, and other apparel design positions. The business side could lead to a future as a fashion merchandiser, marketing executive, buyer, or trend forecaster.

Necessary Skills

Skills needed for a career in fashion and retail

  • Attention to detail
  • Interest in design and fashion
  • Strong customer service skills
  • Keen listening skills
  • Creative thinking
  • Oral communication skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Negotiation skills
  • Critical thinking skills

Degrees and Certifications

A wide variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees can be applied to careers in fashion and retail

  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Finance
  • Communication
  • Fashion Merchandising
  • Retail Merchandising

How to Get Started

7 steps to get you started in fashion and retail

  1. Join a relevant student organization.

    • Examples: GMU Fashion Society or American Marketing Association
  2. Attend networking events to meet employers.
  3. Complete at least one internship prior to graduation.
    • Consider getting course credit for your internship.
  4. Apply for internships and management trainee positions through the On-Campus Interviewing Program.
  5. Conduct informational interviews with professionals in the field through Handshake (using the Students function on the toolbar) or by connectin with Mason alumni on LinkedIn.
  6. Attend the Fall and Spring Career Fairs on campus to meet retail and fashion employers.
  7. Get involved in a leadership position within your student organization.


Research, get experience, and get connected to contacts in fashion and retail.

Industry Research

Job & Internship Search

Experiential Learning

  • Obtain a minimum of one to two related internships before your graduate
  • Obtain a leadership position in your student organization
  • Consider a Study Abroad Internship to obtain global business experience and see international fashion trends

Professional Associations

Job Functions

Assistant Buyer

Assistant buyers typically help in merchandise selection, deal with vendors, write orders, and learn how to operate within a budget. Most assistant buyers have a college degree, and many major in retail management or business.


The Buyer is involved with and responsible for planning sales, monitoring inventory, selecting the merchandise, and writing and pricing orders to vendors. Buyers get their positions after spending two to five years as an assistant or by completing a management-training program sponsored by the store.


The Planner analyzes sales and stock performance, including tracking and analyzing sales and stock by location for department/class/vendor level to maximize trends using online systems to recommend strategies.


 The Allocator oversees the development of store level sales plans for every item in their product category in order to maximize profitability. Day to day responsibilities include reviewing daily sales reports, analyzing and modeling data using spreadsheets and databases, and making and implementing critical inventory decisions based on identified business trends.

Department or Sales Manager

The Department or Sales Manager is one of the lowest levels of management, but a useful one for those who want a long-term career in the industry. Department managers supervise the sales staff, control the sales floor inventory, and often work closely with buyers. A college degree is rarely required for this position; candidates need only to prove they can sell, work well with people, and keep careful track of inventory.

Retail Management Trainee

Retail Management Trainees are accepted into a store's management training program and holds the title for the four to nine months while learning merchandising, finance, marketing, operations, and personnel management. Typically, sales associates and others who excel in various departments get first crack at these programs, though company recruiters hire college grads and other experienced talent as well for the openings that remain.

Market Analyst

Market Analysts are typically marketing majors who understand how to model demographic information and analyze the volumes of transactional data generated by customer purchases will find numerous opportunities in this field, both inside large companies and in a proliferating number of independent research groups.

Fashion Marketing or Merchandising

Fashion marketing and merchandising professionals are responsible for identifying and creating fashion trends to sell the products created by fashion designers. Drawing on their knowledge of consumer psychology and trends, they promote fashion with advertising and visual marketing campaigns. The fashion merchandising field includes jobs in both retail and wholesale sales.

Fashion Media & Promotions

The fashion industry offers a number of opportunities for creative professionals who aren't attracted to the design side. Fashion writers and editors are employed by newspapers, magazines, web sites, and other media outlets to keep consumers up-to-date on style trends. Fashion photographs, illustrators, and stylists are often employed by catalogs and magazines.