Why my major matters : Fashion Merchandising

Elana Katz

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My major gets its fair share of flack. 

Whenever I tell someone that I’m a fashion merchandising major, I often get intimidated by a judgmental glare and am quick to follow it with a, “I’m also a journalism minor,” in hopes of not coming across as incompetent.  

It seems to be a common misconception that loving fashion equals being dumb. I wouldn’t be surprised that most people reading this picture Cher Horowitz from “Clueless” flipping through her virtual closet when they think of fashion, but it’s actually much more complex than just picking out clothes.

It might sound cheesy, but to me, fashion is an art form. If paintings, sculptures, film and music can be treated with respect, fashion can be as well. When designers carefully craft beautiful garments to send down the runway, it’s not just clothing to me — it’s art. 

The biggest reason I love fashion, and why I think it matters, is that it affects everyone. Even people who put clothes on with their eyes shut in the mornings are still wearing clothes. Fashion is a form of self-expression, and there is not a single clothed person alive who isn’t exposed to it. Students who choose to throw on sweats and a T-shirt without care are still using those garments as a way to express themselves. They might be expressing that they’re too tired to care, but it’s an expression nonetheless. 

People may not do it consciously, but everyone communicates with clothing. A businessman might use a suit to communicate his status, while a football player uses his uniform to do the same.  Some people might wear all black to communicate angst, while others might wear bold prints to communicate a cheerful disposition. Sure, there are insane fashion shows that happen multiple times a year, but that’s only a small portion of what fashion really is.

I often get strange looks from people as I walk through campus in my pleated skirts and Peter Pan collars. Some people feel most comfortable in jeans and a T-shirt; I feel my best in an A-line and oxfords — that’s the great thing about personal style. Fashion may seem superficial at first glance, but when it comes down to it, at its core is the ability to give people confidence. I don’t dress up every day because I’m vain; I do it because it makes me feel good about myself. 

When I get my degree in fashion merchandising, I won’t be in stores picking out clothes every day. Personally, I’ll be searching for a job writing for a fashion magazine and it shouldn’t receive any less respect than any other job in journalism. My peers might be looking for jobs in marketing, public relations, buying or any number of jobs. It seems like an easy and glamorous lifestyle to lead, but it’s hard work like any other profession. 

I’m willing to bet that physics and LEJA majors would struggle in a textiles class and that most people wouldn’t guess that being a buyer isn’t just choosing what clothes to sell —  it mostly involves math. 

My major doesn’t matter to me just because it’s fun, it matters because every single person reading this is going to be affected by my profession, whether they agree with me or not. I might not be going door to door and dressing them, but what I do is going to reach them eventually.

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