The major in fashion merchandising requires a strong background in marketing, business and specialized professional courses with an emphasis on globalism. Students are directed toward assignments that will develop their skills in research, writing, presentation and critical thinking. Graduates find career opportunities in fashion forecasting, product development, advertising and promotion, retail management, buying, and international marketing.

Internships provide not only experience but industry contacts, and are strongly recommended. They may be conducted primarily during the summer semester.

Study abroad programs are readily available for fashion merchandising majors.

Learning outcomes

Upon completing this program, students will know and know how to do the following:

  1. Implement technical skills: The program will provide students with technical knowledge and skills of contemporary computer software.
  2. Utilize problem-solving: Apply quantitative and qualitative skills to problem-solving within the apparel industry. Students will be familiar with the various levels of the fashion industry, and understand how the different business levels and segments intersect. Students will have knowledge of numerous occupations in the fashion industry.
  3. Understand the fashion industry and its occupations: Students will understand the workings of the wholesale segment of the fashion industry including market segmentation, buyer behavior and career opportunities. Numerous simulations and outside evaluators will be used.
  4. Understand the wholesale industry: Students will understand how theoretical perspectives on markets, trade and economic development can be applied to historical and current data on production, consumption and trade.
  5. Understand global economics: Students will understand how theoretical perspectives on markets, trade and economic development can be applied to historical and current data on production, consumption and trade.
  6. Application of the design principles: Students will successfully apply the elements and principles of design to various fashion-related projects and presentations.
  7. Knowledge of the theory of contemporary fashion: Students will be aware of the historical significance of fashion in contemporary history.
  8. Application of merchandising math: Students will demonstrate understanding of the fashion buyer’s job with regard to merchandise planning and control.

Degree requirements for Fashion, Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) with a concentration in fashion merchandising

General Education requirements

University Core Education Curriculum
UNIV   111 Play VideoPlay course video for Focused Inquiry IFocused Inquiry I3
UNIV   112 Play VideoPlay course video for Focused Inquiry IIFocused Inquiry II3
UNIV   200Inquiry and the Craft of Argument3
Approved humanities/fine arts3
Approved natural/physical sciences3-4
Approved quantitative literacy3-4
Approved social/behavioral sciences3-4
Total Hours21-24
General Education directed electives
Select nine General Education directed elective credits 19
Total Hours9
1

Directed electives are VCU “general education” electives.

Collateral requirements

ACCT   202Accounting for Non-business Majors3
ARTH   103
ARTH   104
Survey of Art I
and Survey of Art II
6
INFO   162Digital Literacy: Spreadsheets Skills I1
MKTG   301Marketing Principles3
MKTG   315Buyer Behavior3
MKTG/INTL 320International Marketing3
MKTG   330Integrated Marketing Communications3
MKTG   340Retail Management3
SCMA   323Legal Environment of Business3
Art history elective3
Total Hours31

Major courses

FASH   145Computers for Fashion I3
FASH   240Survey of the Fashion Industry I3
FASH   241Survey of the Fashion Industry II3
FASH   250Concepts of Fashion Merchandising Environment3
FASH   290Textiles for the Fashion Industry3
FASH   319Contemporary Fashion3
FASH   341Merchandise Planning and Control3
FASH   342Retail Buying Simulation3
FASH   343Fashion Forecasting3
FASH   380Fashion Branding3
FASH   443Supervision and Management3
FASH   445Fashion Entrepreneurship (capstone course)3
FASH   450Line Development3
FASH   451Importing and Exporting Fashion3
FASH   490Fashion Seminar1
Fashion elective
FASH   210Visual Merchandising3
or FASH   350 Fashion Promotion
Total Hours46

Open electives

Select 13 open elective credits 113
1

Open electives are any courses from any department within the university.

Total minimum requirement 120 credits

Note: Internships are not required but are strongly recommended. FASH   493 may range from one to six credits.

What follows is a sample plan that meets the prescribed requirements within a four-year course of study at VCU. Please contact your adviser before beginning course work toward a degree.

Freshman year
Fall semesterHours
ARTH   103 Survey of Art I 3
FASH   145 Computers for Fashion I 3
FASH   240 Survey of the Fashion Industry I 3
UNIV   111 Play VideoPlay course video for Focused Inquiry I Focused Inquiry I 3
Approved social/behavioral science (University Core) 3-4
 Term Hours: 15-16
Spring semester
ARTH   104 Survey of Art II 3
FASH   241 Survey of the Fashion Industry II 3
UNIV   112 Play VideoPlay course video for Focused Inquiry II Focused Inquiry II 3
Approved natural/physical science (University Core) 3
Approved quantitative literacy (University Core) 3
 Term Hours: 15
Sophomore year
Fall semester
ACCT   202 Accounting for Non-business Majors 3
FASH   250 Concepts of Fashion Merchandising Environment 3
Approved humanities/fine arts (University Core) 3
Art history elective 3
Open elective 1 3
 Term Hours: 15
Spring semester
FASH   290 Textiles for the Fashion Industry 3
FASH   343 Fashion Forecasting 3
INFO   162 Digital Literacy: Spreadsheets Skills I 1
UNIV   200 Inquiry and the Craft of Argument 3
Directed electives 2 6
 Term Hours: 16
Junior year
Fall semester
FASH   319 Contemporary Fashion 3
FASH   341 Merchandise Planning and Control 3
FASH   380 Fashion Branding 3
MKTG   301 Marketing Principles 3
FASH elective (select from):  
FASH   210
Visual Merchandising
or Fashion Promotion
3
 Term Hours: 15
Spring semester
FASH   342 Retail Buying Simulation 3
MKTG   330 Integrated Marketing Communications 3
SCMA   323 Legal Environment of Business 3
Directed elective 2 3
Open elective 1 3
 Term Hours: 15
Senior year
Fall semester
FASH   443 Supervision and Management 3
FASH   450 Line Development 3
MKTG   315 Buyer Behavior 3
MKTG   340 Retail Management 3
Open elective 1 3
 Term Hours: 15
Spring semester
FASH   445 Fashion Entrepreneurship (capstone) 3
FASH   451 Importing and Exporting Fashion 3
FASH   490 Fashion Seminar 1
MKTG   320
International Marketing
or International Marketing
3
Open electives 1 4
 Term Hours: 14
 Total Hours: 120-121
1

Open electives are any courses from any department within the university.

2

Directed electives are VCU “general education” electives.

Note: Internships are not required but are strongly recommended. FASH   493 may range from one to six credits.

FASH   145. Computers for Fashion I. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture and 2 laboratory hours. 3 credits. Laptop computer required. Basic computer skills required. This course introduces students to contemporary technology with emphasis on basic computer graphics software used in the fashion industry today.

FASH   210. Visual Merchandising. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Theory and practical application of visual merchandising techniques in the fashion industry. Development of design concepts, fixturing, layout and presentation for retail, manufacturing and special events. Use of computer-aided design.

FASH   240. Survey of the Fashion Industry I. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. A survey of the apparel industry emphasizing the role of the designer and the various stages of production.

FASH   241. Survey of the Fashion Industry II. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. An analysis of the apparel industry emphasizing retail aspects.

FASH   250. Concepts of Fashion Merchandising Environment. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Basic research techniques and analysis skills for evaluating contemporary fashion and apparel topics.

FASH   290. Textiles for the Fashion Industry. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. This course is designed to develop an understanding of the factors which influence the tactile behaviors of fabrics during garment design, manufacture and wear. Apparel fiber construction, finish and properties both natural and man-made will be analyzed.

FASH   319. Contemporary Fashion. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: UNIV   200 or HONR   200. An in-depth study of fashion beginning at the Industrial Revolution and continuing to the present from a historical and socioeconomic point of view. Hands-on examination of vintage garments and field trips to museum collections.


FASH   341. Merchandise Planning and Control. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Theory and mathematical application of the major elements of retail buying and merchandising. Discussion covers planning and control of inventory, profit analysis, merchandise pricing and purchase negotiation.

FASH   342. Retail Buying Simulation. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: FASH   341 and INFO   162. Practical application of retail buying in relation to the calculations for a six-month buying plan for a department within a department store. The simulation includes projection of sales, stock levels, markdowns, purchases, gross margins, markup, etc.
 

FASH   343. Fashion Forecasting. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Using basic principles to identify, track and analyze current trends, students will develop a fashion forecast. Demographic, economic, social and historical forces of behavior will be evaluated.

FASH   350. Fashion Promotion. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: junior standing. Through lecture and field experience, students are exposed to technical and creative aspects of fashion promotion and public relations. A variety of media are utilized. Students may be required to spend time outside the classroom on promotional activities.

FASH   380. Fashion Branding. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Students will understand the concept of fashion branding and the processes necessary to successfully develop or redevelop a fashion brand.

FASH   442. Advanced Show Production. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. A practical application of the production, planning and execution of a professionally staged and choreographed fashion show featuring the Department of Fashion Design and Merchandising students’ juried work.

FASH   443. Supervision and Management. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. The study of advanced leadership skills as they relate to the fashion industry. Topics include team building, negotiations, time and stress management, and communications. Emphasis placed on leadership and supervision skills across cultures.

FASH   445. Advanced Application in Store Development. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: FASH   341 and 342. Studies operational functions as related to the objective and decision-making procedures inherent in successful small-business retailing. Quantitative strategies will be applied as students develop a model plan for a retail business.


FASH   450. Line Development. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Pre- or corequisite: FASH   341. Students will learn the fundamentals of producing a line of apparel, accessories or home fashions from conception to consumer. Emphasis will be placed on market research, specification sheets, costing, sourcing, production and sales.
 

FASH   451. Importing and Exporting Fashion. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: FASH   450. An overview and introduction to import/export theory, government regulations and global sourcing. Students will gain insight to the dynamics and cultures of the international fashion marketplace.
 

FASH   490. Fashion Seminar. 1 Hour.

Short course (5 weeks); 3 lecture hours. 1 credit. A professional seminar for senior fashion majors. Lectures will cover career opportunities and job preparation.

FASH   492. Independent Study in the Fashion Industry. 1-3 Hours.

Semester course; 1-3 credits. May be repeated. Prerequisite: junior or senior standing as a major in fashion design or fashion merchandising. Learning experiences should be designed with the supervising faculty member in the form of a contract between student and instructor; approval of department chair necessary prior to registration. This course will be limited to those students who have demonstrated intense commitment to a particular area of study within the fashion industry.

FASH   493. Fashion Internship. 1-3 Hours.

1-3 credits. It may be a single internship for 3 credits or several (maximum 3) totaling 3 credits. Open to junior- and senior-level fashion majors only. A practicum in which students apply on-the-job the formal classroom and studio training they have received in their option (design, merchandising) on campus.