5 Things Store Owners & Entrepreneurial Fashion Designers Should Know about Visual Merchandising

written by Georgia Schumacher 11 April 2014


You pored over the clothing and accessory inventory selection for your store, but it's not flying off the shelves like you expected. Visual merchandising is the art and science of displaying your products, from the window displays that get people into your store to the floor plan that keeps them moving around.

Your potential customers quickly form their first impressions of your store primarily based on the visual input they receive. Effective visual merchandising is just as important to your store's success as the inventory itself. Here are a few visual merchandising tips to help your fashion design sensibilities get a business minded focus.

1. Start with a store-wide view

You want a cohesive theme among all of your store displays, so starting with an overall view of your retail floor space helps bring together. In addition, starting with the floor plan allows you to avoid creating displays that are too big for the available space or detract from the store atmosphere.

2. Show an accurate representation

In fashion design, you want your clothes to look as good as they possibly can when the model wears them on the cat walk. The same concept carries over to your store. Select displays that help your customers visualize what the clothes look like on them before they head to the dressing room.

3. Consider ease of access

Balance your floor plan between getting as much merchandise as possible on the floor and making it easy to access everything. You don't want any clothing to be difficult to see or reach, as this drives the customers away from a purchase. When you overload your store with merchandise, you run the risk of your displays being too busy and pulling the customer's attention in too many different directions, resulting in an overwhelming amount of choices.

4. Make sure your store windows impress

Your window displays are the first impression the customer has of you. You want a range of products that shows off exactly what you have to offer. You're not simply putting your best-selling clothes on mannequins and calling it good. You want to tell a story and show the style and theme of your store.

5. Optimize lighting

Your lighting sets the mood and atmosphere of the store. The overall lighting level should be bright enough to clearly see the products, pricing, signs, floor path and other aspects of your store. Use spotlights and track lights to add emphasis to specific products and product displays. Good lighting does more than simply illuminate. It plays off of the texture and features of your clothing, bringing out their best attributes for the customers' eyes.

Interested in a career in fashion design or retail management? Explore our programs today!

Read More

- Silent Selling: Visual Merchandising for Small Retailers
- Visual Merchandising: Back to the Basics with Best Practices 
- The Effect of Visual Merchandising on Fashion Stores

Women Who Changed the World of Fashion Design

written by Georgia Schumacher 4 March 2014

Women in Fashion Design

March is Women's History Month, and that calls for a piece on influential women who changed fashion design. Take a look at four of the great fashion designers and businesswomen who blazed new paths in the industry with their unique, fresh, and exciting views on style and elegance.

Coco Chanel

With the most recognizable name in French fashion design and possibly the entire world, Coco Chanel transformed clothing and style forever. In many senses, she freed women from the uncomfortable fashion trends of the early 20th century. Her influential, classic creations included pieces like trousers and suits for women, as well as the little black dress. Even suntanning became a style trend influenced by her own stunning outfits paired with a tanned complexion she gained accidentally while on vacation. Her branded perfume, Chanel No.5, is perhaps the most coveted fragrance in the world.

Vera Wang

Vera Wang's influence as a business owner and American fashion designer comes in her ability to cross generations and cultures. When she couldn't find a suitable wedding dress, she decided to build her own. From there, the Vera Wang brand took off. Best known for her haute couture bridesmaid dresses and wedding gowns, Vera Wang has also expanded her clothing line to include women's wear and fragrances. She often experiments with more daring designs, including a black wedding dress. Her retail products touch a wide range of ages, classes, and cultures, helping her to earn a spot as a legend within the industry.

Vivienne Westwood

Vivienne Westwood is often called the "Goddess of Punk" in the fashion design industry. Her insistence on freedom of expression and her unique style have made her vastly important to the field. In 1971, the doors to her first store, Let It Rock, flung open and her brand has never looked back. She has done everything from dressed the Sex Pistols to started a menswear clothing line in Florence. Her clothing perfectly meshes the cutting edge with tradition - an area in which few others have enjoyed such widespread success.

Miuccia Prada

The Queen of Handbags, Miuccia Prada has an impressive story that made her all the more influential in the fashion world. This former member of the Italian Communist Party assumed control of her father's luggage company in 1978 and quickly breathed life into the dying brand with energetic creations. Prada's determination to make things completely her own enabled her to become a distinguished figure in fashion design. Leading with her will and confidence, she possesses a style and innovative flair that helped her and her products gain worldwide recognition, adoration, and respect. The brand produces fashion products that are a dynamic and trendsetting blend of femininity, aesthetics, and originality.

Interested in a career in fashion design? Learn how to get started here!

13 Art Institute Students & Grads to Show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week

written by Georgia Schumacher 8 February 2014

At The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division, we’re proud to be a member of The Art Institutes system of schools! Across the country, many Art Institutes students and alumni are shaping the future of the creative arts industries, including the world of fashion design.

Design by Rie Yamamoto

On February 11, 2014, thirteen Fashion Design students and graduates of the Art Institutes will show their collections on the runway at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. At 8pm EST on the night of the show, you can watch a live stream of the runway show! 

For these students, the journey began by submitting sketches, inspiration boards, and a minimum of two garments to industry experts, including fashion designers and student selection committee judges.

In the months that followed, faculty and staff worked with and mentored them on their collections, as finished garments were submitted at regular intervals for lively discussion.

(This image shows a design by Rie Yamamoto, 2013 Graduate, Bachelor of Fine Arts, Fashion Design, The Art Institute of California—San Francisco, a campus of Argosy University.)

Learn more here about these designers and their collections to be shown at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week!

Looking at degree programs and schools for fashion design? Find a Fashion Design program near you, or check out The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division’s Bachelor of Science degree program in Fashion & Retail Management.

Fashion & Retail Update: 2013 Fall and Winter Trends

written by Georgia Schumacher 8 November 2013

Fashion iconIf you're pursuing a career in fashion and retail management, the ability to identify and understand seasonal trends in fashion can be key to your success.

Knowing your target demographic and the styles that appeal to them is equally significant, so it’s important to broaden your understanding from high fashion designer brands to more casual, ready-to-wear options that appeal to a wider range of people.

Here’s a look at some of the ongoing and upcoming seasonal trends we’ve been reading about.

Fall Trends

While floral patterns and bright colors may have been eliminated with the passing of this year’s spring and summer seasons, the trends for this fall include muted earth and jewel tone colors, plenty of light layers, and even floral or insect-themed accessories. For prints, think classic prints, like checkered and tartan. Gold tones and jewel tones have been increasingly popular this fall.

Although floral prints are appearing less on clothing, they are being replaced with statement accessories that accentuate the natural beauty of the outfit and this season, including jewelry themed with flowers, leaves, butterflies, or insects.

Winter Trends

Where fall accessories are more ornate, the trend for winter is more simplistic – although the class prints are expected to remain popular. Winter looks showcase a mix of dark blues and dark reds as well as some muted pastel shades, including pale pink. You’ll see people pairing darker clothing with lighter accessories so that they avoid wearing too many dark colors. A dark suit will pair well with a bright red or blue scarf without seeming too bold for the season. Pastels can be used in moderation and look best in the form of a scarf, gloves, shawl, hat, or coat.

Tying it All Together

Understanding seasonal trends in fashion will continue to benefit you far into your career within the fashion industry. However, it’s important to also acknowledge the relevance of being able to adapt some trends to meet the interests and needs of your demographic.

To learn more about getting your career started in the world of fashion and retail, explore our Bachelor of Science Degree Program in Fashion & Retail Management.


Fall 2013 Trend Report
Fall 2013 Fashion Trends
The Dos and Don'ts of Fall 2013 Fashion Trends 
All You Need to Know about the Autumn/Winter 2013 Trends

Virtual Fashionistas Styling Contest & Speaker Series

written by Georgia Schumacher 11 September 2013

fashion sketches

The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division announces the Virtual Fashionistas Styling Contest and Speaker Series running throughout the months of September and October. In addition, the Virtual Fashionistas will be featuring various activities through the AiConnections page. Check out the details below!

Virtual Fashionistas Styling Contest

Showcase your interest in fashion and your skills in creating a fashionable look for a chance at a $100 gift card! Here’s how to participate:

• Create a full fashion ensemble with accessories—belts, shoes, jewelry, makeup and hairstyle to present a head-to-toe look and provide a photograph of your creation.

• Design your ensemble for a special event, such as a red carpet appearance, the Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute Gala, a resort vacation, an elegant party, a designer fashion editorial or other high-profile event. A visual fashion story should be clear from the photograph provided.

We'll be accepting entries until October 31, 2013 at 11:59PM EST. To learn more, download the contest information and release forms.

Saturday Speaker Series

Calendar iconVirtual Fashionistas will host live workshops via GoTo Meeting on the 2nd and 3rd Saturdays in September and October. Visit the Events Page in the Campus Common to sign up.

Topics include:
9/14: What’s in a Stylist’s Kit
9/21: Makeup for Photography & Television
10/12: Professional Software for Fashion Stylists
10/19: A Stylist’s Portfolio

Learn more and register for these events on the Events page in the Campus Common!

Related Activities

All activities will be held throughout September and October on the AiConnections Virtual Fashionistas page.

Mondays: Read featured quotes and suggestions from stylists.
Wednesdays: Learn more about books and online resources about stylists and styling.
Fridays: Guest bloggers will cover subjects such as finding models, photographers, and locations when you are on a budget, how to meet designers who want their work promoted, and the difference between a personal stylist and a photographic stylist.

To visit the Virtual Fashionistas page, log in to Connections through the Campus Common here!