'Can you make money in that (industry)?' my mother asked, after I informed her of my decision to continue my education in Fashion Merchandising. I am sure most people assume the same thing, that people who obtain fashion degrees don't make much money. Although Boston is quite renown for it's business, medicine, and law schools, there are a few of us who venture into non-traditional fields who not only love what we do, but are successful doing it as well. I would like to shed a bit of light, and even dispel some misconceptions about those who choose to venture into the world of fashion.
Do you remember the scene in "The Devil Wears Prada" when Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep) rips Andrea a proverbial "new ass hole" (come on I am sure you all have either heard or said worst things than this), when Andrea laughs at the staff for having trouble choosing which belt to adorn a particular dress for a fashion ad? Ok, if you don't remember, or are just plain oblivious to the whole scenario I am here to help you out: Andrea Sachs was a frumpy fashion victim who worked for the Editor-in-Chief for a fictitious magazine, called Runway. Because she graduated from a prestigious college with a degree in journalism, she thought she was too intelligent to take fashion seriously (as I've clearly witnessed while working among some of Harvard's elite). So she thought that because she had not an interest in fashion, it had nothing to do with her at all. Boy, was she tragically mistaken.
Miranda asks "something funny?" and Andrea replies "no..just that both of those belts look exactly the same to me...and I am still learning about this stuff and.." Miranda responds "Thissssss ssssstuff? Oh...ok you think this has nothing to do with you ..you go to your closet and you select, I don't know, that lumpy blue sweater for instance, because you are trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care what you put on your back. But what you don't know is that sweater is not just blue, it is actually cerulian, and you are also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002 Oscar De la Renta did a collection of cerulian gowns; and I think it was Yves Saint Laurent (eves san lar-ant is the correct pronounciation...if you are old enough to wear/afford it you should damn sure know how to pronounce this designer's name correctly, or any others.. I'll concoct a special blog just for those types who name-drop, but drop the wrong name) who showed cerulian military jackets and then cerulian quickly showed up in the collections of 8 diferent designers.
"And then it filtered down to the department stores and then trickled into some tragic casual corner where you fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and it's sort of comical that you think you made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when in fact you're wearing a sweater that was selected for you by the people in this very room, from a pile of stuff." You see, Andrea was wearing a sweater that was picked by the very people she was laughing at. Now, who has the last laugh now? As one of my good friends would say "know your facts before you speak"..but for the sake of this blog I will rephrase that as "know your facts before you assume". There are a lot of people out there in the world who have a very narrow view when it comes to people who work in the fashion industry.
This is not an "easy" "flaky" and neither is it an underpaid industry. Several hundred of thousands of people had to make intelligent and damn near remarkable decisions so people like Andrea could go into a Brooks Brothers or Ann Taylor's and merely select what they want or need to wear. It took a lot of marketing, merchandising, and planning to get that cerulian sweater from "just an idea" into millions of retailers worldwide. Just to give you an idea of what a degree in Fashion Merchandising could reward (and I am not saying that hardwork doesn't add to the equation), here is a short list of fashion industry jobs that do make "bank" (according to PayScale, and www.salary.com)
- Sourcing Manager for Lululemon Athletica: $63,542-151,862/yr
- Director of Retail Franchise: $91,100-$195,614/yr
- Merchandise Manager: $39,301-$72,640/yr (typical $53,081)
- VP of Merchandising: $98,689-$154, 212/yr
- Head of Licensing Operations: $68, 454-$137, 320/yr (typical $98, 057)
- Assistant to VP of Production Manager: $52, 451-$83, 171/yr (typical $66,321)
- Assistant to Merchandising Manager: $45,214-$71,156/yr (typical $57,291)
- Ready-to-Wear Buyer: $43,246-$71, 518/yr (typical $55,347)
- General Manager/VP: $96, 693-$179,700/yr (typical $133,445)
- Product Manager: $57, 792-$95,882/yr (typical $75, 218
(Quotes were taken from The Devil Wears Prada (2006) Fox 2000 Pictures by Director David Frankel.)