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Fit for wear

education Updated: Jan 04, 2012 11:51 IST
Hindustan Times
Sri Lanka

The lowdown
A merchandiser, or an apparel manager, is the bridge between the design and the production teams. Their primary responsibility is to deal with the buyers. That’s why, any delay or goof-up in the communication to the client can cost a company a big order. These managers can work in retail where the role includes inventory control, deciding on what to buy, identifying store locations or in an export house where they decide on production, manufacturing, sourcing, etc. They have to manage products, many of which become obsolete after one season. They can work in brands such as Benetton, Levi’s, Pantaloons; retail chains; export houses or sourcing companies (where they manage the supply chain) and outsourcing firms which are links between foreign clients and Indian manufacturers. Apparel managers (in India) may be busy working on a US order for shirts which require cotton bought from Australia, woven in Pakistan, dyed and finished in Sri Lanka, and manufactured in Bangladesh

Clockwork
9am: Meet buyers; do sample follow-ups
11am: Flip through various fashion magazines
1pm: Lunch
2pm: Coordinate with vendors, and track the movement of unshipped orders
3pm: Meeting with commercial team
4pm: Search the web for new trends, cuts and colours in apparel design
6.30pm: Check arrangements for upcoming trip to Milan
7pm: Leave for home

The payoff
The starting salary of a merchandiser with a master’s from a reputed institute can vary from Rs 20,000 to Rs 40,000 a month. As you advance in your career, you can expect to earn upwards of Rs 1 lakh a month. Further on, the pay package would depend on your performance. A merchant growing to be the CEO of a big apparel brand or retailer can rake in Rs 50 lakh to Rs 1 crore a year. If you are planning to start an organisation of your own, the investments can be quite large

Skills/Traits
* Commercial acumen
* Ability to multi-task, manage change in a fast-changing market and perform under tight deadlines
* Strong interpersonal skills and team spirit
* Quantitative aptitude
* Be detail-oriented
* Be creative
* Be able to handle a crisis calmly
* Good communication skills

Getting there
There are no pre-requisites for you to get into the profession. You may come from any background provided you have talent for this kind of work. After completing your Class 12 in any stream, you can look at institutes offering programmes in apparel management and related fields. Some institutes do offer undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in apparel merchandising, fashion marketing and fashion management. Admission to most institutes is through an all-India entrance exam

Institutes and URLs
* National Institute of Fashion Technology has centres in many cities, including New Delhi
www.nift.ac.in
* Pearl Academy of Fashion, New Delhi
www.pearlacademy.com
* National Institute of Design,Ahmedabad
http://www.nid.edu/

Pros and cons
* You work in a dynamic, fast-changing market
* It’s a global field. You get the chance to travel across the world and gain international exposure. Many Indians have gone on to work in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Australia and the US
* If you can’t multi-task and manage the work in a multi-team environment, it can cost the company a big order
* Long working hours can take a toll on your social life
* Work keeps you on your toes
* It is a well-paying profession for starters

The manifold growth of the textile industry has opened opportunities for professionals with specialised knowledge and skills that are required for this industry Sharmila Katre, professor (business and technology), Pearl Academy of Fashion, New Delhi