Interdepartmental Collaboration Brings Real World Experience Into the Classroom

October 27, 2016

FIDM is constantly working to bring real life industry experience into the classroom. To this point, a new interdepartmental collaboration began last quarter between Merchandising & Marketing (MM) and Merchandise Product Development (PD). Students in both majors worked together on a multi-tiered Urban Outfitters product development and marketing project.

Students in PD’s Classification & Line Development class designed women’s and men’s apparel and accessories for Urban Outfitters and presented their collections to students in MM’s Applied Buying class.

As a result of the collaboration, PD students got the opportunity to experience how much business is involved in what they’ll be doing in their careers. The buyers conveyed what’s selling and what’s not selling, based on their research.

The MM students learned how to communicate and work with product development to give the customer the best possible assortment. On the buyer's side, they made sure to hold onto best sellers and proven drivers. In working with product development, they were able to keep best sellers in the assortment—PD students updated the line and made it more relevant for the time period and trends.

“It's a good exercise to show how these teams will constantly be interacting and working together to give the customer the best assortment and make the most money doing it,” said Danielle Douglas, the instructor in the Applied Buying class.

The two classes met four different times throughout the quarter. In the first meeting, after shopping the Urban Outfitters store, students assessed the merchandise assortment and created a shopping report. They visited the downtown store to get to know their customer base, best sellers, and hot items (what Urban Outfitters is pushing for this season in terms of new styles and trends).

The second meeting called for PD students to present their concepts, themes, and initial designs to their buyers. The buyers chose what they liked, and PD students edited their lines.

In the third meeting, PD students presented their final line to the buyers. The students described their design decisions and how the garment fit into Urban Outfitters. They provided detailed bios on their target customer, why they would where the garment and where they would wear it. They also presented design choices such as fabric, fiber, and weight.

Designs included woven tops with color-blocked yokes, pocket tees, skinny pants, jogger pants, track jackets, sweaters, footwear, and backpacks. The students even provided customer day-in-the-life scenarios: “Austin will meet his next date at Urth Caffé wearing this.”

The fourth and final meeting was held on the last day of class where the buyers presented their marketing strategy and also their final buy.

Estel Hahn, the instructor for the Classification and Line Development class, and has confirmed that going forward, this interdepartmental collaboration will continue each quarter.

Categories: Merchandising & Marketing, Merchandise Product Development