Understanding the difference between Fashion Design and Fashion Merchandising

Understanding the difference between Fashion Design and Fashion Merchandising


Marymount University is the only university in the D.C. area that offers undergraduate programs in both Fashion Design and Fashion Merchandising. While the two degrees sound similar, each is geared towards aspiring professionals in distinct sides of the industry. Let’s explore the differences between the two!

Fashion Design

Fashion Design is the art and application of design and aesthetics to create functional, yet appealing, clothing and accessories. It’s more than cutting and sewing — it requires problem solving to understand the needs of the consumer and respond in a way that will meet their needs and creatively express the vision of the design.

What you should expect to do in Fashion Design:

  • Create designs in computer-aided design (CAD) programs
  • Select fabrics, embellishments, colors and fabrics for garments and accessories
  • Work in a team to create prototype designs
  • Present design ideas
  • Showcase designs in trade shows
  • Market designs to retailers and consumers

Fashion Merchandising

Fashion Merchandising is the promoting and selling of apparel and/or accessories. It covers a wide range of different aspects in the industry — from visual to retail, to journalism and event planning. All are centered around meeting the needs of the target market and attracting them to the brand being advertised.

What you should expect to do in Fashion Merchandising:

  • Evaluate suppliers on price, quality and speed of delivery on their products
  • Examine suppliers’ plants and distribution centers to learn about products, services and prices
  • Evaluate, negotiate and monitor contracts between the company and its vendors
  • Analyze price proposals and financial reports to determine reasonable prices for products
  • Determine corrective action for defective products
  • Maintain records of items bought, costs, deliveries, product performance and inventories

Next Steps for Creatively-Inclined Souls

If fashion is your passion, it’s helpful to know that there are a wealth of options available to study this creative career field and earn a college degree at the same time. Marymount’s undergraduate Fashion programs are designed to equip budding professionals with all the tools they need to succeed in the industry. We encourage you to request more information today to learn more!