What is a Fashion Product Manager? (And How Do I Become One?)

Fashion product managers play a crucial role in the fashion industry – making sure that products are created smoothly from concept development to production.

But with such a broad scope of work, there can be a lot of questions about what the role truly entails.

So, in this article, we’ll explore the role of a fashion product manager, you’ll learn how different this role is from that of a production manager (spoiler alert: they are TOTALLY different!), what skills you need to work in this industry, potential earnings, and even opportunities for remote freelance work!

Let’s dive right in!

Why am I qualified to write about this stuff? In my 15 years of experience in the fashion industry, I’ve journeyed from being an in-house designer, starting my own brand (yep!), to growing my freelance career to $100,000+. Now, with all the knowledge I’ve learned along the way, I want to help fashion designers (and PDs, TDs, etc.) like you make it in the industry.

Table Of Contents

What Does a Fashion Product Manager Do?

Fashion product managers oversee the development and production of fashion products, ensuring that they align with the fashion/retail company’s vision, quality standards, and market demand. 

It’s the fashion product manager’s job to coordinate closely with all the team members involved in the product development – from the design team, merchandisers, planners, up to the suppliers and manufacturers. Their expertise helps maintain balance between creativity and commercial viability and making sure that the designs are feasible for production. 

Fashion product managers often find themselves buried in spreadsheets as they manage budgets and timelines which are key elements in ensuring any successful collection launch.

This role involves lots of juggling, but it can be incredibly rewarding “owning” products and pushing them out in the market.

To get into detail, a fashion product manager role involves overseeing the following areas: 

  1. Product Development: Researching market trends, product planning, conceptualizing designs, overseeing garment samples, and managing production schedules. 
  2. Sourcing and Material Selection: Identifying and procuring fabrics and materials, managing supplier relationships, and ensuring quality standards. 
  3. Production Oversight: Planning production schedules, implementing quality control, managing costs, and ensuring profitability. 
  4. Budgeting and Cost Management: Analyzing production costs, negotiating with suppliers, and determining product pricing to optimize profitability. 
  5. Collaboration and Communication: Coordinating with cross-functional teams, communicating design visions, and aligning product strategy with business goals. 
  6. Trend Forecasting: Analyzing fashion trends and consumer behavior to adapt product strategies accordingly.
what does a product manager do

Fashion Product Manager vs Production Manager

People often confuse the two as they sound alike. And although both need to collaborate closely with each other to make sure that garments get launched successfully – these two roles are distinct. 

fashion product manager focuses on the overall lifecycle of a fashion product, from design conception to delivery. Their responsibilities include market research, trend analysis, material sourcing, design collaboration, production oversight, budgeting, and ensuring the final product aligns with the fashion brand’s vision and market demand. They serve an important role in balancing design creativity and commercial viability, ensuring products not only meet quality standards but are also aligned with the brand’s business objectives and consumer preferences.

production manager, on the other hand, is primarily concerned with the manufacturing process. They are responsible for the efficient, timely, and cost-effective production of goods. This includes managing the production team, scheduling, quality control, inventory management, and ensuring that products are manufactured within budget constraints. Production managers focus on optimizing processes, minimizing waste, and ensuring the smooth flow of operations on the factory floor.

How Do I Get a Job as a Fashion Product Manager?

Gaining industry experience is super important to become a fashion product manager. In fact, a lot of fashion product managers started out as designers themselves.

Here are important factors to consider to become a fashion product manager:

  • Hands-On Experience: Working in the trenches of the fashion industry provides invaluable insights into design, production, and consumer preferences. Those with firsthand experience in navigating the challenges of creating garments or accessories understand the nuances of materials, craftsmanship, and style trends
  • Deep Understanding of the Design Process: Having a background in fashion design allows aspiring product managers to comprehend the creative process clearly. 
  • Navigating Industry Complexities: Fashion is a multifaceted industry with intricate supply chains, endless material options, and evolving consumer demands. Experience on the ground equips individuals with the ability to navigate these complexities. From identifying sourcing options to managing production challenges, practical exposure helps build critical problem-solving skills crucial for a fashion product manager.
  • Building a Professional Network: Fashion product managers are in charge of an entire development run, so it’s highly important to maintain connections across the entire product development process. These could be your manufacturers, suppliers, designers, merchandisers, etc.
how to get a fashion product manager job

If you want more insights, I have a podcast interview with Emilee Goff where she shares how she snagged an internship in the fashion industry within a week of graduating high school – and how she pursued a career as a product manager.

And another pod interview with Shelby Collins, a fashion merchandiser and product manager. In this interview, we get into the nuances of working on the production/merchandising side of the business vs working in design/development. Shelby also shares some great tips on preparing for interviews and networking as a product manager.  

Fashion Product Manager Job Description

Here’s a fashion product manager job description sample:

Job Overview:

As a Fashion Product Manager at [Your Company Name], you will play a pivotal role in the end-to-end product development process. You, as an industry expert, will collaborate closely with our design, sourcing, and marketing teams to bring our creative visions to life. Your expertise ensures that our products not only meet the highest quality standards but also align seamlessly with our brand identity and market demand in the fast-paced retail industry.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Conduct comprehensive market research to identify trends, consumer preferences, and competitive products, contributing to our product vision.
  • Collaborate with designers to conceptualize and develop innovative fashion products, ensuring alignment with brand vision and customer expectations.
  • Oversee material sourcing, negotiate with suppliers, and manage relationships to secure high-quality, sustainable, and cost-effective materials essential to the apparel industry.
  • Develop and manage detailed production schedules, ensuring timely delivery of products to market and efficiently managing the product lifecycle.
  • Implement rigorous quality control measures throughout the production process, maintaining consistency and excellence in all products.
  • Analyze production costs, negotiate pricing, and determine product pricing strategies to ensure revenue, showcasing your expertise in the job role.
  • Collaborate with cross-functional teams, fostering effective communication and seamless coordination between design, production, and marketing efforts.
  • Stay updated on industry trends, emerging technologies, and sustainable practices, integrating relevant advancements into our product development processes.
  • Champion ethical and sustainable sourcing initiatives, ensuring our products align with environmental and social responsibility standards within the fashion company’s head office.


  • Bachelor’s degree in Fashion Design, Merchandising, Business, or related field.
  • Proven experience in fashion product management, with a strong portfolio of successful product launches within the retail industry.
  • In-depth knowledge of fashion trends, materials, and production processes, showcasing your expertise in the apparel industry.
  • Excellent communication skills, negotiation skills, and project management skills, vital for working closely with the product development team.
  • Strong analytical and problem-solving abilities, with attention to detail crucial for navigating the complexities of the fashion industry.
  • Proficiency in relevant software and tools for project management, design collaboration, and data analysis, enhancing your capabilities in the product lifecycle.
  • Demonstrated commitment to ethical and sustainable practices in the fashion industry, essential for driving responsible product development.

How Much Money Does a Fashion Product Manager Make?

Talking about money can be uncomfortable, but let’s rip off the band-aid. As a fashion product manager, your paycheck depends on several factors like experience level, company size, and location.

According to Glassdoor, the average salary for this role in the US spans from $70k to over $120k annually.

Working in-house is great for some, but what if I told you there’s a way around where you can also dictate your own prices and work at your own time?

Remote Freelance Opportunities for Fashion Product Managers

What most people don’t expect is that almost every job in fashion is totally doable remotely and on a freelance role (yes, even freelance fashion designerstechnical designerspattern makers, and so on!). 

And this does not exclude fashion product managers. As a freelance fashion product manager, you can leverage your skills to drive projects from concept to creation while enjoying the freedom of remote work by utilizing online organization and communication tools.

You gain the autonomy to choose who you collaborate with and which products to develop. Plus, freelancers often have higher earning potential compared to their employed counterparts when they maximize their opportunities correctly.

Becoming a freelancer lets you set your own hourly rate based on expertise and demand for your services. And you can say goodbye to the 9-5 grind (where you’re tied to a desk all day every day) and hello to a flexible lifestyle.

Ready to take the leap? You can get started with my free step-by-step guide to freelancing in fashion.

©2008-2023 SuccessfulFashionDesigner.com

Heads Up: We use cookies to customize your experience and track how you interact with our site to serve you better.    OK     more info