A Day in the Life: Fashion Product Manager

Vault Day in the Life: Noverto Gonzalez
Assistant Product Manager,
Federated Merchandising Group

Noverto Gonzales graduated from the University of North Texas with a BA in Merchandising in 1999. His first summer internship was at J.C Penney in Texas. It was a 10-week program: five weeks as assistant department manager on the retail floor and five weeks as an assistant buyer. He knew he wanted to live in New York City, so the summer before he graduated, Noverto landed another internship in the city. He was offered an internship at Barney's and Saks Fifth Avenue but chose the one at Saks since a salary came with it. The Barney's internship paid a small stipend at the end of the summer. His New York City job search was entirely self-directed.

After graduation, he was offered a position at J.C. Penney (in Texas) and Saks Fifth Avenue. J.C. Penney was very supportive and knew he wanted to go to New York. He began his career as an assistant buyer at Saks Fifth Avenue Catalog. He moved on to Federated as an assistant product manager. Federated operates Bloomingdale's, Macy's West and East, Goldsmith's, The Bon Marche, Burdines, Lazarus and Rich's department stores. At the Federated Merchandising Group, he worked with other product managers, buyers, the design team and the technical design team. Federated Merchandising Group, a division of Federated Department Stores, is responsible for the conceptualization, design, sourcing and marketing of private brands which are exclusive to Macy's, Rich's, Lazarus, Goldsmith's, The Bon Marche, Burdines and Bloomingdale's. These private labels include: INC, Style & Co., Alfani, Tools of the Trade, Charter Club, JM Collection, Tasso Elba, Club Room and Greendog.

Noverto's Day

9:00 a.m.: Get into office and check email. Our overseas office in Turkey has left me some notes. Update production time and action plans. The approvals for fit samples, lap dips and trims are managed by product development. For example, if our designer doesn't like a button on a sample, we have to find a replacement.

10:30 a.m.: Fit model comes in. We have fittings three times a week. I keep a "Fit" book and take notes of things that were changed. The designer and assistant designer are also in the meeting.

11:30 a.m.: I go back to my office to update the open purchase orders. If the parameters of the order change, I have to update it and make sure the legal documents are correct as well. Some of essential information is color, style number, vendor, country of origin, first cost and landed cost. I also deal with quota issues.

12:30 p.m.: Get back to the office and work on design samples. Go over current season sales and look through styles and colors. Look at different types of bodies or fabrication. Often, I have to address costing issues. If we want our cost of production to be something specific, like $5, we might have to negotiate with our vendors. Or we would look at the price of a set and then increase the price of the pant and decrease the shirt. Every year we are pressured to reduce cost from last year.

2:00 p.m.: Grab a quick and late lunch.

2:30 p.m.: Attend line development meeting. We're always working on three seasons at once. Develop fall, go into meeting for holiday, and check spring production calendar. The seasons Federated followed were Fall, Holiday, Spring and Summer.

4:00 p.m.: Check e-mail and update my calendar. Once a week, I track all shipments. I reconcile the shipping logs, purchase orders and sales. If the shipment does not have a corresponding receipt number, I ask someone in the D.C. (distribution center) or e-mail a vendor and ask for proof of shipment.

5:30 p.m.: Track advertising samples. These samples are used for our ads. The buyers request ad samples.

6:00 p.m.: Go home!

Noverto comments: "My favorite part of the industry is working with fashion forecasting offices. You know what's going on next year. The ironic thing is that there are so many trends but most things end up looking the same! Every company does similar things. The worst part of the industry is that it is pretentious. You always have to stay on top. If something doesn't sell then you're responsible for it."