Day in the life of a Fashion Merchandiser at Gen Woo
What is Fashion Merchandising?
There are many jobs within the fashion industry and fashion merchandising plays one part that helps to bring clothes to your stores. The question is, what exactly does a fashion merchandiser do?
Life as a fashion merchandiser plays an integral role in bringing a collection to life, they work alongside the creative team (supporting the vision of the collection) as well as the technical, costing and production teams (making the vision a commercially viable product). They need to have a range of skills but most importantly, to be highly organised, have the ability to communicate with many departments and countries, resolve problems, and track the life cycle of each product from its conception to its shipment.
In preparation for the Spring Summer Collection recently, we decided to take some time out to have a heart-to heart chat with Gen Woo’s fashion merchandiser, Valeree Ray Lee, about her daily activities, how she feels about the fashion industry and the challenging process of producing a collection.
What do you like about your role as a fashion merchandiser?
V: I love the process of creating a new collection and seeing how a collection starts and following its journey until it’s in the shopping bags of shoppers. I enjoy the exploration and experimentation stage, which is a really rewarding experience. In my line of work, we observe shoppers and what they’re wearing all the time. That’s how we catch on with the current trends. It goes beyond the office and to the streets.
What’s the first thing you do when you arrive at work?
V: I always grab a cup of coffee before work. Once seated at my desk, I'll write down the things I’d like to achieve for the day. Then, I’ll check through my calendar and emails to see what I need to follow-up on. We work closely with the team in Bangladesh, our manufacturing house, so I'll always have to call them to make sure everything is on track.
What inspires you about the fashion industry today?
V: Since the pandemic, the fashion industry has proven that it’s growing with the global shifts. The introduction to many new technologies and re-inventing new ways to do catwalks. For example, how the shows have evolved from the stage to the outdoors, using mixed media, the metaverse and couture brands transforming their collection from exclusivity to sustainability like upcycling from their deadstock.
Gen Woo is trend driven and is inspired by the seasonal runways as well as street trends. We adapt these trends into fun wearable collections for boys and girls. We also love to celebrate print and colour, which you will see plenty of in this year's summer spring collection for girls , boys, men and women.
Which department in Gen Woo do you work closely with? How do you work together to ensure a successful collection?
V: I work closely with both the design and production team. I translate what the design team intended to the production team who will give suggestions and proposals on how they can best achieve the designs.
There’re a lot of back and forth, many experiments and drafts, and compromises because both teams see things from 2 different spectrums of their expertise. When faced with limitations, we must constantly brainstorm to work around them.
Ultimately, to complete a collection successfully, it takes a lot of communication and understanding from everyone. Expect a lot of calls, daily meetings and briefing sessions to make sure everyone is on the same page and moving towards the same goal.
When you’re having a bad day, what does it look like? How do you overcome that?
V: Well... a bad day can look like a variety of things because I have my foot in every department.
A bad day from the design team would look like a pile of production status updates and reports. Sometimes, I have to pay extra attention to details, and constantly liaise with the team from Bangladesh for updates. This can be time-consuming.
From the production team on the other hand… where do I start? Fabric problems, wrong release of information, lab dip problems, machine issues, sampling and cutting issues and so on. In addition to that, miscommunication with other departments. The horror it’ll bring to the overall timeline when production gets delayed, everything just affects one another.
There’s always pressure from both sides and sometimes it’s overwhelming. To clear my mind, I often take a step back for 10-15 minutes (maybe look at the greenery if I could), take a deep breath before jumping back in to reassess the situation.
For Gen Woo SS22 Collection, tell us what you enjoyed most working on?
V: I can’t pin-point an exact moment, but I truly enjoyed seeing the production in action in Bangladesh. It was super fast-paced. I also received training during my visit there, so I learned a lot.
We’re always talking about sustainability, but I never got to actually witness it until this trip. It’s taking place on a much bigger scale than just using eco-friendly fabrics. Sustainability is one of the key factors of consideration when designing this collection. For SS22, we’ve incorporated greige fabric. It’s a pre-knitted fabric from past collections that are just sitting on the shelves. This way, we are upcycling and keeping it sustainable. There are exclusive pieces in the collection, made of deadstock fabrics. We are aiming to have 20% of our collection zero waste as part of our commitment to be environmentally conscious.
The challenges for this year’s spring summer collection are communication and timeline. The team is spread across the world and we’re pretty much international. Communication is definitely tough with different working cultures and schedules. This collection is going to be MASSIVE. It consists of 100-150 styles. Imagine the planning that has gone into it! We had to revise the timeline multiple times.
I do have a favourite part though. When the design team says ‘YES’ to the samples, which means it’s ready for production!
Gen Woo is different because…
V: Of our trendy designs, with attention to details and quality.
There are so many happenings behind the scenes of creating a successful Gen Woo collection. We hope that this inspires you and gives you a glimpse of what goes on behind the fashion business (and it’s so much more than just the design!).
Till next time! P.S. Don’t forget to check out our upcoming Spring Summer collection .
Author: Media One