MBA in Fashion Management
The MBA in fashion management is a relatively new phenomenon, though the same roles and rules apply to students looking for MBA jobs as in any industry. Fortunately, the MBA salary levels for jobs in the sector are competitive too. Networking is very important in an industry where word of mouth can count for everything.
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With annual revenue of over US$1.2 trillion dollars, Bloomberg Businessweek ranks the fashion industry as the fourth-largest industry the world. To put it another way: think about every single thing you are wearing, and everything that everyone around you is wearing – it’s all got to come from somewhere!
Finance, marketing, innovation and strategy all play massive roles in bringing the latest trends from the catwalk to the high street. There’s no getting away from the fact, however, that creativity lies at the heart of the fashion industry. To be a successful leader in the sector, one must not only be able to work with creatives but also to help manage and nurture their strengths – which is what a specialized track will teach you.
Students should pay extra attention to location when considering options for pursing an MBA in luxury brand or fashion management. It should be no surprise that the best-known programs and tracks for an MBA in fashion management are located in the fashion hubs of the world including New York (NYU Stern), Paris (ESSEC), and Milan (SDA Bocconi). However, many other schools offer electives focusing on fashion or luxury brand management.
MBA in fashion management course content
Those specializing in fashion management will study the same traditional core courses as they would on any MBA program. These will then be supplemented by course offerings that are specifically tailored – pun intended – to fashion and luxury brand management. Courses might include:
- Marketing luxury brands
- Developing and managing luxury retail
- The fashion industry: creativity in business
- Culture of brands
- Design and marketing of luxury goods
- Managing a watch brand
- Managing a jewelry brand
- Luxury brand consumer behavior
- Doing business in Italy
- Luxury brand finance
- Retail marketing
- Retail store layout and design
- Social media and consumer engagement
As students work their way through an MBA in luxury brand management, it is likely that they will be encouraged to travel to fashion hubs like New York, Paris, Milan and London, as well as to emerging markets in China and India where luxury brands are not only establishing a foothold but will, it’s predicted, become the world’s biggest markets.
The courses listed above only scratch the surface of what an MBA in luxury brand management or fashion management entails. The ever-coveted soft skills are of course essential, in order to manage creative egos, and while one doesn’t have to be artistically gifted, creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship are important to keep up with ever-changing fashions.
Top schools for MBA in fashion management
Offering an MBA in Luxury Marketing, NYU Stern is located in one of the best places in the world for anyone who is interested in pursuing a career in the fashion industry: New York City. NYC, as we’re sure you know if you’re reading this guide, plays host to New York Fashion Week and is home to companies like Michael Kors, Eckō Unltd., Aéropostale, Brooks Brothers, Ralph Lauren, Steve Madden, Kate Spade and J. Crew among many, many others. Faculty members at NYU Stern, meanwhile, hail from leading companies in the industry and have been influencing fashion and luxury brands for decades.
Boasting partnerships with some of the most recognizable names in the fashion industry, SDA Bocconi’sMBA track in luxury business management employs a hands-on approach to the fashion industry and luxury brand management. The school is located in Milan, another global fashion capital. The classes offered in this track include ‘Strategic Mindset in Luxury Business’ and ‘Orchestrating a Global Luxury Brand’. Students are encouraged to apply for internships at major fashion labels located not only in Milan but around the world.
ESSEC Business School, located on the outskirts of Paris, offers an MBA in International Luxury Brand Management, taught by faculty who can boast backgrounds at companies such as Christian Dior, L’Oréal, Chanel and Burberry. The school runs partnerships with prestigious names in the industry, and the program includes two international trips: one to a particularly relevant international market (Hong Kong or Dubai being recent examples) and a second to Italy, where students visit some of the top names in the fashion industry like Gucci and Bulgari.
There are many career options and MBA jobs available in luxury brand management; these are a large number of multinational companies who share the needs of all big businesses across a wide range of functions, including traditional MBA jobs in finance, operations and strategy.
Many specialized tracks, however, focus on marketing, the need for which should be self evident – particularly as growing middle classes in emerging economies change the topography of the business landscape. Retail management and supply chain management are areas of opportunity for the same reason.
Some examples of roles, as listed by business schools, taken up by fashion marketing MBA graduates include:
- Senior VP of fragrances at Lancôme in the US
- Marketing manager at Rémy Cointreau in India
- Buyer/product manager of accessories at Printemps in France
- Merchandising executive at Stella McCartney in China
According to Glassdoor, the average post-MBA salary for a senior luxury brand manager in the US is around US$133,000 while the post-MBA salary of a marketing manager is around US$120,000. Both of these MBA salaries are in and around the current US average.
MBA internships might be the best way to secure a job in the fashion industry, as they allow students to showcase their business acumen while effectively participating in a long-term interview. The networking aspect of an internship cannot be underrated, either. Whether you just want to find out whether luxury brand management is right for you or you’re actively trying to get your foot in the door of what is a highly competitive field, an internship is a well-trodden path to a full-time post-MBA job.
Some of the top companies for internships and careers in luxury brand management and fashion management include:
- Kate Spade