Face it: fashion consultants are not sales girls

Face it: fashion consultants are not sales girls
There was a time, not long ago, when any person selling in a retail store brand or a designer was considered to be a salesperson. But then came international brands and the termnology shifted to “fashion consultants”.

Earlier, the main criteria were the way a person looked and spoke. Now, apart from having those two qualities, one needs to be good in a lot of other things as well. Beginning with the knowledge of the technical side of the product — what fabric it is, what style it is and other features — a fashion consultant these days also needs to analyse consumer’s needs and personality so as to suggest what will look good on him or her.

These factors are mandatory for the person managing the store to position the brand and retain customers. Often, I have seen lot of fashion graduates restraining from this profile as they still view this profession as “sales girls/boys”. I, to the best of my ability, have mentored them a lot by giving examples of other industries, such as investment or legal or medical, where the advisors or consultants practising are professional having specialised degree/diploma in their field. They also earn their livelihood by selling their expertise to people like us who are unaware of lot of things. We tell our needs or problems and trust their fair and competent advice. If the results are favourable then we tend to trust them a lot more.

In this case also only a fashion graduate is competent in advising the product specification or USP, the design which will suit the client more, the customisations that are possible and the trends that are in vogue.

Yes, there is a degree of persuasion and convincing skills that is required, but if one is confident in their fashion sense then it won’t be a big problem. As far as the sales target goes, we all know that brands are flexible in their targets and also revise them according to the market condition. And you’ll be surprised to know that the remuneration, incentives and the growth that is in fashion consultancy is way too high when compared to being an assistant designer or a production manager.

In India we have thousands of fashion graduates passing out every year whereas only hundreds of options exist for them in designing. Many an unemployed talent is thus wasted. With the FDI in retail inevitable there will be more luxury and retail brands coming into our country creating a huge requirement for fashion consultants. This will give lot of scope to our talented fashion graduates who will have more career options.

Yes, any fashion student has a right to think that they can be another Roberto Cavalli or Ritu Kumar. So we can’t blame them. But if they do their SWOT analysis and aptitude test they can figure out their future better instead of waiting endlessly.

(The writer is a Delhi-based fashion designer)

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