What to Major in for Product Development

Hi everyone!

Recently I was asked what the difference between majoring in Production Management at FIT versus majoring in Fashion Business Management with a concentration in Product Development is, and I thought I would share my view on the pros and cons to both!

When I was in high school, I thought I would attend FIT for Fashion Business Management, one of our biggest majors. I intended on being a buyer, and selecting the assortment for stores. However, what I couldn’t have foreseen at the time was my enjoyment in the process of making those products to be sold. I ended up in Production Management by truthfully falling into it, but I love it! It has provided me so many interesting experiences and insights. If you are deciding between the two majors, here are some key differences to help you select what will be best for you.

Production Management is much smaller than Fashion Business Management (FBM), so we all get to know each other and the professors pretty well. I have enjoyed networking with fellow students, and having professors that know my name and face. However, since we are smaller, sometimes the class offerings can be more limited than FBM, which runs many more sections of a class than the 2 options Production has. Additionally FBM has more major-wide contests and specific opportunities, as well as more study abroad options. Also, you can’t hide in a small major – we all know each other and know who is skipping class!

I think the main content difference between FBM and Production Management is that FBM covers a much wider variety of jobs in the apparel industry, where as PM trains you to be the best product developer or production manager. Graduates of both programs can (and do) hold jobs in both the front end (sales, buying) and back end (development and manufacturing), but the methods of study are pretty different. At the end of the day, I think it comes down to if you like the nitty-gritty, hands on, too much information on a single topic (PM), or a broader, more balanced view of multiple aspects in a more conceptual way (FBM).

As a kid, I was always sewing and crafting and plotting and planning. I liked reading craft books to learn how to loop rugs, bake clay figures, or sew a hammock. Even if I had no intention of crocheting a teddy bear, I still wanted to know how they did it. I think this is why I like Production Management so much. We get to examine the entire process of making something so we can optimize it. We take pattern making classes, sewing classes, textile and testing classes to see how things are done. However, you can be an amazing product developer or production manager, and never have sewn a stitch in your life! Many FBM students prefer how the program is much more broad, doesn’t require staying in the sewing labs late, and has more information on the sales side of the industry. The Product Development specialization from FBM gives you the necessary knowledge to start a career in that area.

At the end of the day, if you are attending FIT with the ultimate goal of being a Product Developer, both FBM and Production Management are great choices. I think the main differences are size and range of topics. If you want a broader understanding, more flexible class schedule, additional programs and study abroad choices, and to be more conceptual/less down and dirty, FBM’s Product Development specialization might be a better choice. If you want a more tailored, close knit, deep dive into the entire process instead of just an overview, with hands on work and experience in a multitude of facets in garment creation, Production Management might be more fun for you.

No path in fashion is a straight one, and you never know where you might end up!