The fashion industry is comprised of people who liaise with one another from around the world, working in an extensive range of jobs, ultimately bringing products to market. The industry is broken down into eight different segments with boundaries that sometimes blur, both among the segments and between the jobs within those segments.
Textile Design, Development, and Manufacturing
This area of the industry begins with the selection of yarn. Whether the yarn is a plant fiber (cotton, linen, ramie, bamboo, corn), an animal fiber (alpaca, angora, mohair, silk, wool), or a synthetic fiber (acetate, acrylic, nylon, rayon, polyester, viscose), the fabric manufacturer will employ a textile designer to create knitted, woven, embroidered, and printed fabrics and trims. Woven textile designers work for fabric mills selecting yarn, designing the weave and construction, and choosing color combinations, usually done with CAD programs. Knit designers are specialists in selecting appropriate yarns, knit gauges, and stitches and are familiar with knit construction and technology such as cut-and-sew knits, whole garment technology (Stoll, Shima Sieki), seamless technology (Santoni), circular knitting machinery, and CAD programs such as U4ia and Primavision. Print textile designers create textile surface designs that are applied to knit and woven fabrics. Print design studios supply print designs to the fashion industry. Textile printing takes place either at the mill level or at a printing company. A colorist works with the textile designer in the textile development and design process. Converters are fabric suppliers who do not make their own textiles but instead buy greige goods from mills, then commission other companies to print, dye, and finish the goods. Lace, embroidery, and trim designers work to develop motifs and decorative stitches that can be used on clothing and accessories. Textile technologists work with designers handling various aspects of the textile manufacturing process.
Fashion Design, Wholesale Sales, and Manufacturing
The fashion design profession encompasses many different product categories and falls into three main levels: fashion designers with eponymous labels (Donna Karan, Oscar de la Renta, Tommy Hilfiger), creative directors who head design teams for brand-name companies (Gucci, Chanel, Versace), and designers who work for manufacturers or retail establishments. Apparel designers work as freelancers or as permanent design specialists in the following market areas: activewear, childrenswear, intimate apparel, knitwear, menswear, leatherwear, outerwear, performance apparel, sportswear, special occasion, and womenswear. Other product categories are accessories, footwear, jewelry, millinery, and hosiery. Associate and assistant designers aid the designer in the creative process. Sketchers, sample cutters, drapers, patternmakers, and samplemakers are also employed in the designer's workroom. Tailoring shops employ tailors who create made-to-measure or bespoke tailored suits and shirts for men and women. Tailors are also hired by outerwear and suit manufacturers. Graphic designers design logos and other graphic images for clothing and accessories. The role of the technical designer and specification writer is to assist in the design process by communicating necessary information from the designer and product developer to the factory.
Each season, manufacturers sell their line by utilizing any number of the following means: having a showroom presentation by a showroom sales associate; selling through a sales representative or regional sales representatives; having a trunk show or trade show; and using media presentations like fashion shows, advertisements, TV, the Internet, direct mail and editorial coverage in fashion magazines, newspapers, and trade journals (WWD, DNR, and FN).
The production/manufacturing arm of a company is responsible for purchasing materials, pre-production fitting, pattern grading and marking, global sourcing of materials and contractors, production scheduling, costing analysis, quality assurance, plant management, and the final shipping of product. Personnel in the production area include the technical services manager, the fabric buyer, trim buyer, textile and materials planner, fit model, technical services manager, grader and marker, global sourcing director, contractor, operator, production manager, costing analyst, quality assurance manager, plant manager, import coordinator, and the import/export specialist.
Retail Store Management
The retail segment of the fashion industry can be broken down into five key areas: (1) retail merchandising, buying, planning, and product development, (2) retail store operations, (3) sales promotion, marketing, and visual merchandising, (4) financial management, and (5) human resources.
Retail Merchandising, Buying, Planning, and Product Development. The merchandising division of a retail store is centered on planning and merchandising, buying, and/or developing products. A general merchandise manager (GMM) directly reports to the store president. Under the GMM are the divisional merchandise manager, director of planning, planner/distributor, buyer, associate buyer, and assistant buyer. Buying offices employ buyers who either buy merchandise for their own stores, known as Central Buying Offices (CBO), or buy for many individual stores known as Resident Buying Offices (RBO). Over the past decade, the retail landscape has changed. Many stores now create their own merchandise in addition to purchasing lines from brand-name manufacturers. Product development teams work with the merchandising division to create private label merchandise for the store. The product development manager heads the team that includes a designer or product developer, products buyer, technical designer, specification writer, and production manager.
Retail Store Operations. The operations division of a retail store is headed by a store manager, who is responsible for directing the merchandise coordinator/selling specialist, salespeople, head-of-stock and warehouse personnel, maintenance, security, and customer services areas of the store.
Sales Promotion, Marketing and Visual Merchandising. Sales promotion is comprised of advertising, visual merchandising, and public relations. This division is headed by a promotion director, who works with a marketing account manager, online marketing manager, and visual merchandise director, as well as in-house advertising staff or outside advertising agencies for more specialized media such as television, video, and radio.
Retail Financial Management and Human Resources. The financial control division of a retail store supervises the store budget. This division is headed by a controller or chief financial officer (CFO) who manages all financial activities and controls the credit department, accounts payable, and the statistical department. Controllers work with the merchandising division of the store to prepare reports that are used to guide divisional merchandise managers and buyers in executing their merchandising plans. The human resources department hires and trains new employees in addition to maintaining employee benefit records.
Fashion Media
Fashion media encompasses members of the fashion press, such as fashion columnists, fashion critics, fashion editors, fashion journalists, fashion photographers and photojournalists, and fashion reporters. Other industry members and events that fall under the fashion media umbrella are fashion models, fashion shows, stylists, illustrators, fashion forecasting, fashion public relations, fashion advertising, and fashion Internet sites, blogs, and magazines.
Fashion Education
As the fashion industry grew and became a multimillion-dollar industry, it fostered the need for schools that could provide the necessary training for the many professional areas within the industry. European schools, beginning with Esmod in Paris, initially trained students in design, draping, patternmaking, and garment construction. Soon fashion schools opened in countries such as Italy, Britain, Belgium, and the United States with expanded programs in fashion design, textiles, production management, retail management, merchandising, sales, fashion advertising and promotion, and marketing. Due to the global nature of fashion and the shift in manufacturing to Asia and South America, existing fashion schools have formed partnerships with colleges and universities in countries including China, India, Japan, Thailand, Turkey, and Mexico and countries in South America. Today there are more than 650 fashion schools in approximately 27 different countries. (See appendix 7 for a listing.)

Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry. .

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