Apparel Design and Apparel Merchandising

Clothing needs are influenced by all aspects of society, and Apparel Design and Apparel Merchandising graduates must understand the social, ethical, cultural, economic, and political factors that influence clothing selection.

For this reason, the Apparel Design and Merchandising specialization has a strong interdisciplinary base integrating knowledge from arts, psychology, sociology, economics, business, history, physics, and chemistry. The liberal education provided by this program empowers you to think critically and to gain an understanding of your intellectual and creative abilities — qualities highly coveted by employers.


Located just minutes from downtown Seattle, where many apparel companies are headquartered (such as Nordstrom Product Group, REI, Eddie Bauer, Union Bay, Amazon Fashion, Tommy Bahama, Filson, Outdoor Resources, and Zulily), SPU’s Apparel Design and Merchandising program has strong connections with the apparel industry.

As the only comprehensive Christian Apparel Design and Merchandising program in the Pacific Northwest, we are committed to providing an education founded on Biblical principles. We aim to grow the whole person through many opportunities both in and outside of the classroom:

  • Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) dual-degree program
  • Design exhibition
  • Apparel design and merchandising internships
  • Network opportunities with professionals in the apparel industry
  • Student fashion group
  • Creative apparel design and merchandising education and application
  • Critical and creative problem-solving and application in apparel design, production, and merchandising
  • Diversity of classroom experiences
  • Global perspective of apparel design, production, and merchandising
  • Clear understanding of ethical decision making, social responsibility, and sustainability
  • Strong communication skills and professional development

Career preparation

Apparel Design and Merchandising graduates are prepared for a wide range of careers. Their knowledge and understanding of the total apparel/textile/retail complex, along with their unique insights into the consumer-driven market, make Seattle Pacific University students highly marketable. In addition, the global perspective of the curriculum opens many national and international career opportunities. Students in all options may increase their marketability by pursuing double majors of both specializations and minors in other areas.

Career options

Apparel Merchandising

  • Buyer/ Merchandiser
  • Merchandise Planner/Allocator
  • Sourcing Specialist
  • Brand Manager
  • Fashion Journalist/Stylist

Apparel Design

  • Apparel and Accessory Designer
  • Technical Designer
  • Apparel Product Developer
  • Creative Art Director
  • Apparel/Textiles Quality
  • Control Manager

Career opportunities

The broad academic base provided by this program allows you and other graduates to be flexible in career choices, allowing for greater opportunities in career changes or to continue educational pursuits. A considerable overlap among jobs in the industry and a broad educational base make it easier to transform career positions as opportunities and interests arise. For example, some graduates have worked as buyers for several years, then accepted positions as designers or in product development.

The fashion industry is a dynamic field, fast paced, global in scope, and complex. It is exciting working in a profession that deals with people’s physical and aesthetic clothing needs and is influenced by social, cultural, political, and economic developments. You are trained to succeed in a wide variety of career opportunities.

Entering the Apparel Design or Apparel Merchandising Major or Minor

You may enter the Apparel Design major during your first quarter at SPU.  Entrance after your first quarter requires only good academic standing (2.0 or higher SPU cumulative GPA).  Consult the Undergraduate Catalog for complete information on how and when to enter and what you must do to complete the program.   

Faculty contacts

Jaeil Lee

Professor of Apparel Design and Merchandising; Chair of Apparel Design and Merchandising; Co-chair of Family and Consumer Sciences Department
PhD, Ohio State University

Phone: 206-281-2196
Office: Peterson Hall 209

Gwia Kim

Assistant Professor of Apparel Design and Merchandising
PhD, North Carolina State University

Phone: 206-281-2465
Office: Peterson Hall 211