Fashion merchandising students combine style with business savvy
By Catherine Harper
From dealing with designers to negotiating with wholesale retailers, fashion merchandising requires knowledge of the industry and a passion for fashion. For more than 30 years, the Texas State University Fashion Merchandising Association has taken stylized dedication to the forefront of campus, community and beyond.
FMA is a university-supported student organization within the College of Applied Arts and the School of Family and Consumer Sciences, encompassing the field of fashion merchandising. As a professional and service-based organization at Texas State, FMA provides members with an in-depth view of both the fashion world and the industry of fashion merchandising.
The Fashion Merchandising Association began in 1976, and has been active in local and national fashion communities since. As a professional organization, FMA provides members with marketable skills and guidance in the fashion industry through service projects and fashion-forward events that offer a wide range of opportunities.
According to Dr. Ann Dupont, a senior lecturer and the program coordinator of fashion merchandising at Texas State, members of FMA are not exclusively preparing for the fashion merchandising field but include students from different professional fields looking to expand their experience.
“Students that want to learn more about the fashion industry or producing special events can get professional experience and meet others [at FMA] while expanding their portfolio,” Dupont says.
FMA is run by a council of fashion industry-savvy students alongside faculty sponsor Sharon Welkey, a professor of fashion merchandising at Texas State. With guidance from Welkey, the council conducts biweekly meetings while coordinating retail guest speakers and visits to wholesale retailers which provide a “behind-the-scenes” view of fashion merchandising.
The organization has branched out to other campus groups including FashioNation, an emerging student organization in fashion merchandising. With similar interests in the community and shared members, the two campus organizations have coordinated efforts for several community and service events, spreading the vogue ventures and leadership of the department around campus.
FMA sponsors wide-ranging events. Major events in the past year included the Fashion Merchandising Career Forum with the Career Services Department at Texas State, the FMA Bake Sale, a re-purposed vintage fashion show, and the United Way “Celebrity” Classic. According to Dupont, the organization is dedicated to both community and professional projects, with members directing the scope of events.
“The focus shifts with each year,” Dupont says. “The association may be more focused on service projects or on charity and fashion projects. The members decide the dynamic of each year.”
According to Dupont, members of FMA are varied from students majoring in fashion merchandising to those interested in fashion and special events. With such a diverse membership, the benefits of joining are broadened to include networking and professional opportunities.
“The organization is not just for fashion merchandising majors,” Dupont says. “It’s about getting professional experience and learning about the fashion industry. Anyone can and should join.”