Posted on August 14, 2018
Students, especially those with dreams of a career in the world of fashion, must develop many practical skills to complement their specialized knowledge. Colors, fabrics, body types, fit, styling, along with the myriad complexities of wardrobe planning and design, comprise a broad and varied field of study. Like other areas of study, fashion retail education — correctly, to some extent — emphasizes this knowledge in the classroom.
But what about life after the classroom? Successful professionals not only need the requisite expertise in their field; they also need workplace skills. Many students graduate with little or no workplace experience and struggle as a result. Whether it’s difficulty with communication or improper dress habits, too many young graduates enter the professional world woefully unprepared.
To learn more about the benefits of fashion retail education in Dallas & Fort Worth, TX, contact us or call 817-763-5081 for the experts at BJ Wilson and Company. To learn more about our instructional text, The Fashion Cycle: Strategic Buying and Selling for Retail: A Workbook and Practical Guide, visit BJ’s website.
The Essential Elements
Employers often complain that students and recent graduates lack the basic elements of workplace competence. Anecdotal evidence from managers and coworkers was compiled in a recent report that cited communication skills and “resilience” as qualities in short supply. For many students, the demands of study and competitive nature of college admissions preclude the possibility of entry-level jobs that offer on-job training as a substitute for retail education. Without this valuable workplace experience, it falls on educators to supplement classroom knowledge with instruction in workplace skills.
Unfortunately, most fashion retailers have completely abandoned formal training programs for their frontline sales associates. Many seem to expect for employees to already be trained or have experience before onboarding occurs. This is pretty lofty, since the retail industry is known for excessively high turnover. Furthermore, today’s younger generations do not view retail as a real career path. Of course this perception of students (and their parents) might actually change if they believed their employers cared about their career development and long term success. Of the high-end luxury retailers who do offer formal training programs for associates, they typically consist of basic POS, HR, Loss Prevention and OSHA training, as opposed to actual wardrobe training or apparel sales training.
Interpersonal Expertise as a Component of Retail Education
The most successful fashion professionals benefit from charisma and razor-sharp interpersonal skills. Designers must reach out to others to translate their visions to reality; fashion merchandisers and those who work in retail must communicate effectively and respectfully with coworkers and clients. Today’s graduates must be excellent communicators, and also fully understand how to develop and maintain strong client relationships.
Salesmanship is a relevant talent at every level of the fashion industry. Of course, those in retail must work to sell apparel; but heavy-handed techniques avail no one, and effective sales pitches rely more on nuance and skill than pressure tactics. Even those that work outside of retail must sell themselves and their ideas. Fashion retail education students must learn how to effectively target sales to clients’ personal preferences. Instead of targeting the client with a pitch, students learn how collaboration achieves ideal sales. For retailers, this results in the consistent sale of complete, complementary wardrobes, as opposed to individual pieces of clothing.
A first-rate retail education is indispensable for a career in fashion. While you hit the books, make sure to fill any gaps in your preparation. To learn more about wardrobe consultations, in-store training, and everything else BJ Wilson and Company offers, reach out to us at your convenience. To purchase our instructional text, The Fashion Cycle: Strategic Buying and Selling for Retail: A Workbook and Practical Guide, visit Amazon.