This part time course in Fashion Buying and Merchandising covers three essential modules that will give you the opportunity to begin your career as a fashion buyer or merchandiser.
Start Date9th March 2022
QualificationQQI Level 5
Course Duration8 months
Are you interested in becoming a fashion buyer or merchandiser? Portobello Institute’s QQI Level 5 Major Award in Fashion Buying and Merchandising is an international qualification which will allow you to begin your career in fashion.
This part-time Fashion Buying and Merchandising programme encompasses the foundations that are necessary to succeed as a fashion buyer in today’s competitive environment. While fashion trends change from season to season the fundamental role of the fashion buyer and fashion merchandiser remains the same. As a fashion buyer, or fashion buyer assistant, you will play an integral role within the infrastructure of the retail team, tracking and analysing seasonal trends, ensuring production costs are kept within budget and most importantly, ensuring profit and growth for the company. This course covers three key modules for those interested in a career in fashion buying and merchandising; Fashion Buying and Merchandising, Fashion Industry and Design Studies and Visual Retail Display. You will also have the option to participate on the work experience placement programme, contribute to the Irish Fashion Designer Showcase and attend key events in the annual fashion calendar. There is an easy payment plan designed to make this degree affordable for you. These factors, together with the one to one tutorial support, offer you a course that is accessible, affordable and achievable.
Why should I study this course?
The part time Fashion Buying and Merchandising course covers all the essential elements to turn a creative eye and an interest in fashion into a practical career in an incredibly exciting industry. Putting into practice the skills learned in class is key to gaining employment in the fashion industry. Our graduates have been incredibly successful gaining employment both at home and abroad. Much of this success is due to the established strong links with many of the main fashion buying and merchandising departments within some of Ireland’s largest retailers. Part-time students have the option to participate on the work experience placement programme, contribute to the Irish Fashion Designer Showcase and attend key events in the annual fashion calendar.
“Fashion is about dreaming and making others dream"
- Donatella Versace
Who will recognise my qualification?
Upon successful completion of this programme, you will be awarded the following:
- Portobello Certificate in Fashion Buying & Merchandising
- QQI Level 5 minor award in Fashion Buying and Merchandising (5N1445)
- QQI Level 5 minor award in Fashion Industry and Design Studies (5N3845)
- QQI Level 5 minor award in Visual Display (5N1861)
Qualifications Frameworks in Ireland and the UK
The Irish and UK qualifications authorities have collaborated on initiatives that promote the transparency, recognition and mobility of qualifications between our respective jurisdictions. The qualifications authorities in the UK and Ireland have agreed the qualifications frameworks in operation, Brexit will not impact this agreement.
What will I study during this Fashion Buying & Merchandising – 3 Module Booking Package – Starts Mar ’22 course?
The aim of this course is to prepare graduates to secure employment in the fashion retail sector. The course content covers a broad range of fashion modules including fashion industry and design, fashion styling, visual display, fashion buying and merchandising and retail selling. You will learn trend forecasting skills and how to profile a customer. You will learn the skills needed to develop a range plan of products together using both mathematical and creative skills.
You will also learn about supplier relationships, key performance indicators, presentation skills and store merchandising so you understand how to maximise space to sales ratios. In fashion buying, you develop range plans and mood boards in class and also present to the group.
You will also learn design, how a garment is constructed and how materials are sourced. In class the students learn how to sew and design, draft a pattern and create a garment from scratch while learning how to sew. You will develop key skills in merchandising, learning how create planograms and the opportunity to produce a retail window display which is part of the assessment process.
Who will I learn from?
Anne Marie McAuley
‘I absolutely love what I do and genuinely embrace supporting a person to develop and grow. I encourage and promote people at all levels to maximise their potential and hopefully instill a sense of purpose.
The are many careers one can pursue when completing a Portobello Institute fashion course. Part of my role is to help and support you to find the best path.’
ABOUT ANNE MARIE MCAULEY
After graduating from college in the USA with degrees in Business and Psychology, I initially worked as a milieu counsellor with young adults presenting with social and developmental difficulties – I was all about saving the world and think I still can – which was fantastic and the insights I gained in that role have helped me through my own journey to this day.
I always loved fashion, when I was small and then through my teenage years. I always wanted the latest trendy gear, constantly adapting my clothes myself to be a bit different. I was the first of my friends to have a pair of drainpipe jeans (known as skinnies these days!). I always had a part-time job in retail through school and in college at stores like Macy’s and Lord and Taylor.
My first job in a department store was at Christmas time and I was tasked with selling cashmere sweaters, the only section that the full time and staff with tenure would allow me to work in as I was the ‘blown in college student’. I soon figured out that my best customer demographic was the panicked husband looking to purchase a gift for his wife and willing to spend ‘whatever to make her happy’ and of course who does not love cashmere – Cha-Ching! I did more in sales than anyone in the department and as we were commission-based, I was a very happy student. I was destined for a career in retail and fashion and I never forgot the importance of knowing your customer.
I then secured a job in Saks Fifth Ave as an assistant – really just running around New York picking up samples for photos, answering telephones, dressing mannequins, and doing whatever I was told to do, all the time absorbing and learning as much as I could. Back then being around designers like Michael Kors, Diane Von Furstenberg, and Ralph Lauren was an everyday occurrence.
I worked hard and soon became a junior buyer and then senior buyer, I loved my job. I move into the retail operations at Saks as I wanted to develop my skills and I found that leading, coaching, and developing people to also do well was one of my favourite parts of the job. I soon was heading up new store opening teams and one of my greatest achievements was the opening of the San Fran Store. It takes a huge team effort to train several hundred new staff and merchandising the store for opening. I travelled all over the country and enjoyed every day at Saks.
I moved back to Ireland where I secured the role of Retail Operations Manager of The Body Shop Ireland. I had always loved the product and admired their business ethos and not testing on animals. It soon became clear that there were huge challenges within the group around staff training and development which I embraced and was thrilled to be able to use my American experience to influence major decisions in changing the direction of The Body Shop. I also attended any training sessions that the company had for senior management to consistently develop my own skills in leadership and management. While at The Body Shop, I looked at how we could develop the business and came up with a body shop concession concept for pharmacies. We started with one and now there are 150 and the concept has been copied across Europe.
I decided to step away from the role when we were adopting my beautiful girl from Vietnam. For the next few years, I worked as a consultant in retail, so my schedule was flexible, and partnered with companies like Claire’s Accessories, New Look, The Health Store Group, I also became a qualified trainer as helping, teaching, and supporting people were always top of my list.
I applied for the role of a tutor at Portobello Institute and started with delivering QQI level 6 business planning and then an opening came up in the fashion department to teach the buying and merchandising module. Wow, to be able to combine my qualifications, my fashion and business experience with my love of helping people to become successful while still being there for my daughter – fantastic. Of course, because it is in my nature to be a leader, yet still embrace inclusivity, I became the programme manager and have developed the fashion programme to be the number one course in the country. I am also on the panel of mentors of Enterprise Ireland, on the panel of trainers with the Education Training Board.
Why did you choose to work in education?
I understand that to be a teacher is truly a calling of not just the mind, but the heart as well. I believe that great teachers are good at explaining content, are patient, yet firm with students, are always fair, set high expectations, know how to motivate, and use humour appropriately. Being an excellent communicator who has a command of the subject matter is really important. I have forged my own style of teaching that draws on my strengths, knowledge, skills, values, and experiences yet fully realising I still have much to learn and develop and I am always learning from my peers and my students.
I have chosen education as a career because I believe that education is perhaps the most important function performed in our culture, or for that matter, any culture. I believe that teachers individually and collectively can not only change the world, but improve it, and in the process find personal and professional renewal. I love being to be part of this noble profession and hope to continue to inspire all the students I meet.
Empathy is of huge importance to me and understanding that no matter how someone presents themselves to you there are always things going on behind the scenes. I know this from experience and have learned the importance of understanding that everyone learns differently while at the same time a tutor must balance that with the demands of the professional industry that the students want a career in.
The fashion industry is demanding and challenging. It is my role to fully prepare students for the reality of those challenges.
Your experience as a Programme Manager
As a Programme Manager, I can develop the course content, so that it remains up to date and relevant. I can utilise my connections in the industry to connect our students with the best companies to fulfill their dreams of a career in fashion. I can ensure we have the best team of tutors who are all on board with our philosophies, and I can share my experience and learn from everyone on the team. I get to inspire and I enjoy every day that I am part of Portobello.
I have chosen to work at Portobello because I am afforded the opportunity to bring my unique style to the classroom. I get to work with a super team of individuals. I am respected and valued for my input. Yes, we have policies and procedures like any strong organisation has but I get to have fun at work.
We have smaller classes in Portobello which allows us to connect with each student as an individual. We have a holistic approach to education and can balance the academic content required while putting our students’ emotional and psychological needs to the fore.
We have a team of people here at Portobello who all want our student base to succeed, from the academic team to the support team in the office. We are always thrilled to share great news stories about our students especially those who have overcome many obstacles before they arrived at Portobello and during their time with us.
A student should choose to study with us because they will have the journey of their lives while being supported the whole way through and beyond.
Follow @fashionportobello on Instagram to watch Anne Marie McAuley Instagram Live interviews with tutors and students.
What Students Say
Stephanie Burns – Fashion Buying & Merchandising
“Anne Marie has the rare ability to make learning both interesting and enjoyable. Through the amazing stories of her first-hand experience in international business and her unique and fun teaching methods, she was able to inspire me in a way of wanting to be the best student that I could be. I was scared of going back to education after a long absence, but Anne Marie made the transition so easy. She encouraged me to step outside my comfort zone, helped me recognize my strengths, and gave me the confidence that I needed to go forward and pursue my dream career in the fashion industry. She is both encouraging and inspiring, and I feel so lucky to have been one of her students. She truly changed my life.
Mpho Morwaeng – Business Planning
“Being a student of Anne Marie’s has been the best experience in my tertiary education. I enjoyed each and every single class with her. Being an international student, coming all the way from Botswana to be in her class was worth it and it’s an experience I will cherish forever. She was always supportive, positive, and patient with me, in and out of class she was available to assist me with my studies. She did not criticize, she encouraged. She motivated and inspired me to do my best. She treated us equally in class and it made me feel free to ask questions and participate in class. Not only did she teach theory, but she was also very practical and demonstrated how everything applies in the real world. I will carry with me the knowledge and skills I gained from her forever.”
- Bachelor’s Degree Psychology
- Bachelors Degree Business
- QQI Level 6 Train the Trainer
- QQI level 6 Supervisor
- Currently completing MA in Counselling
Research / Industry Participation
- Developed the Student Internship Programme partnered with Industry leaders Primark, Brown Thomas, Arnotts, Pamela Scott, Lifestyle Sports, Diesel etc.
- Mentor for Enterprise Ireland
- Mentor for Meath Partnership
- Panelist of Trainers for ETB
Personal Academic Tutor
Each student is assigned a personal academic tutor to support you throughout your learning journey. They are available to offer you telephone and email support at any time. You can arrange to meet them for further one to one guidance at a time convenient to you.
Many of our past graduates have found it is the opportunity to ask a simple question, seek direction and submit a draft of their assessment that supported them most to successful completion. Emailing your tutor at any stage during your programme to ask a query or submit a draft of your assessment supports you to achieve your personal best throughout your studies with Portobello.
This level of one to one support is a particular benefit to choosing Portobello as your Institute of choice to complete your studies.
How will I learn?
This is a part time course delivered 1 evening per week over 30 weeks. The course consists of 3 modules, each covered over a 10-week period. All of these modules when completed are the full Fashion Buying & Merchandising certificate.
Practical classes are delivered in a fully equipped training rooms with theory classes taking place in one of the many theory rooms within Portobello Institute.
The internship programme takes place during semester 2. The schedule is determined by the needs of the company the student is placed with.
Real Life Learning Opportunities
How will I be assessed?
A variety of assessment methods are used to support students with different learning styles. These vary from written reports to practical case studies, skills demonstrations to examinations. We encourage you to reflect on your knowledge gain with a number of assignments designed to explore your learning journey. All of these assessment methods are seeking to support you to combine theory with scenario-based learning and how to practically implement these methods into your everyday practice.
The difference between the role of the buyer and the merchandiser
A retail buyer is responsible for planning and selecting a range of products to sell in retail outlets. The buyer must consider the following factors when making purchasing decisions:
- Customer demand, including price, quality and availability assortment.
- Trend Forecasting.
- Sales analysis.
- Financial budgets.
Buyers source new merchandise and review existing items to ensure products remain competitive. By fully understanding customer needs, they are able to maximise profits and provide a commercially viable range of merchandise at competitive prices. Keeping up to date with market trends and reacting to changes in demand are key elements of the role.
Retail buyers have a considerable amount of responsibility and autonomy in what is often a pressured environment.
Typical work activities can vary according to the season. This is particularly true for those working in fashion. For example, out of season, the majority of time will be spent in the workplace (in the office and on the shop floor), and during the buying season, a significant amount of time will be spent away from the workplace in order to assemble a new collection of merchandise. Starting salaries range from €26,000 per annum.
Typical work activities
- analysing consumer buying patterns and predicting future trends;
- regularly reviewing key performance indicators, such as sales and discount levels;
- managing plans for stock levels;
- reacting to changes in demand and logistics;
- meeting suppliers and negotiating terms of contract;
- maintaining relationships with existing suppliers and sourcing new suppliers for future products;
- liaising with other departments within the organisation to ensure projects are completed;
- attending trade fairs, in the UK and overseas, to select and assemble a new collection of products;
- participating in promotional activities;
- writing reports and forecasting sales levels;
- presenting new ranges to senior retail managers;
- liaising with shop personnel to ensure supply meets demand;
- getting feedback from customers;
- training and mentoring junior staff.
- strong analytical skills;
- negotiating skills and the ability to network and influence people;
- teamworking and interpersonal skills;
- excellent communication skills;
- numeracy skills and proficiency using IT;
- good organisation skills and the ability to multitask;
- the ability to cope with the pressure of having to make important decisions and meet tight deadlines;
- the ability to work in a fast-paced environment and achieve targets;
- drive and determination;
- commercial awareness;
- leadership attributes;
- creative flair;
- confident presentation style;
- a passion for retail;
The Retail Merchandiser
Merchandisers are responsible for ensuring that products appear in the right store, or on a website, at the appropriate time and in the correct quantities. This involves working closely with the buying teams to accurately forecast trends, plan stock levels and monitor performance.
While the buyer selects the lines, the merchandiser decides how much money should be spent, how many lines should be bought, and in what quantities. In smaller companies, the same person may be responsible for both buying and merchandising.
Merchandisers play a key role within organisations, as profitability can be affected by how successfully they undertake their work. Merchandisers set prices to maximise profits and manage the performance of ranges, planning promotions and markdowns as necessary. They also oversee delivery and distribution of stock and deal with suppliers. Salaries start at €32,000 for this role.
Typical work activities
These vary depending on the company and the particular retail sector, but will typically include:
- planning product ranges and preparing sales and stock plans in conjunction with buyers;
- liaising with buyers, analysts, stores, suppliers and distributors;
- maintaining a comprehensive library of appropriate data;
- working closely with visual display staff and department heads to decide how goods should be displayed to maximise customer interest and sales;
- producing layout plans for stores, sometimes called ‘statements’;
- forecasting profits and sales, and optimising the sales volume and profitability of designated product areas;
- planning budgets and presenting sales forecasts and figures for new ranges;
- controlling stock levels based on forecasts for the season;
- using specialist computer software, for example to handle sales statistics, produce sales projections and present spreadsheets and graphs;
- analysing every aspect of bestsellers (for example, the bestselling price points, colours or styles) and ensuring that bestsellers reach their full potential;
Salaries for buyers start at €26,000 whilst Merchandiser salaries start at €32,000 per annum.
Speak to an expert
Choosing a course that will lead you to your career of choice is a significant decision. Understanding the delivery modes, supports available, career opportunities and further study options are all key considerations when making your choice. Our course adviser team are experts in the courses Portobello offers, the employment prospects and possible progression routes to Masters programmes – they will guide you through the detail and support you with any queries you may have.
It is important you make the right choice for you and choose the Institute and course that will best suit your needs.
I’m George. I am very passionate about fitness, aesthetics and looking after the body and mind. I love helping people and having this job allows me to guide people in the right direction so they can follow the career they want.
How long are you working in Portobello?
What do you enjoy about working in Portobello?
Getting to work with like minded people that push to give students and potential students a better education and helping them progress in their professional careers.
What inspires you about working in education?
Being able to help someone improve and progress to a career they are passionate about.
Have you a story that you recall that touched you/made you laugh/made you cry?
A student that did not get the leaving cert points to get into Physiotherapy, so he thought there were no other options for him. He found our BSc Sports Therapy course and when I interviewed him he was a very intelligent young man and he was very passionate about following his dream job to be a Physiotherapist. When I gave him the news that he was accepted to study here he almost cried and it was lovely to see and to be able to help him follow his dreams.
How do you feel when you have helped a student reach a decision on their course choice?
One of the best feelings for me is helping a student choose the right course. Most students are unsure which career they want. Being able to explain to them what exactly the roles involve and helping them make the right choice is amazing. Some people will work in a job for 10 years before they realise it is not their dream, Being able to talk to students at an early stage and helping them get a job in the role they want is very rewardin
How do I apply?
Entry is by direct application to Portobello Institute and is based on interview selection.
Places on this programme are limited. By interviewing all applicants, we can verify each student has the aptitude and personality to secure employment in the fashion industry. The interview will take place at a time convenient to applicants and is carried out by the programme manager. Our programme manager is seeking to understand that applicants have a genuine interest in working within the fashion industry, they understand the sector, the requirements of the programme and that this programme and Portobello Institute is the right career choice for them.
Applicants have 14 days to confirm their acceptance of an offer by returning the acceptance form.
Fees & Payment Options
Additional FeesMaterials for course: approx €150
Please note that places on this course are not confirmed until tuition fees have been received.
Protection for Learners Fee
Easy Payment Plan
Deposit of 30% upon booking. Balance paid in 5 instalments commencing the 1st of the month after the course starts. All additional fees such as exam body registration fees etc. are included in the easy payment plan.
Deposit + 5 Instalments
- €404.32 due on 1st April 2022.
- €404.32 due on 1st May 2022.
- €404.32 due on 1st June 2022.
- €404.32 due on 1st July 2022.
- €404.32 due on 1st August 2022.