Career Profile: Fashion Buyer
You might have heard of the term “buyer” referenced on TV or in movies. He or she is usually fashionable dressed and always in a rush to find the next big thing clothing designers have to offer. Admittedly, in this case, fiction is not that far off from the truth. Fashion buyers are usually employed by clothing retailers, both big and small, to stock their shelves with products that are most likely to keep the customers walking through the front door. Though the term isn’t exclusively used with the fashion industry, the fashion buyer is the most popular incarnation of the job.
Where does a buyer work and who do they work with?
Oftentimes, a buyer will find him or herself attending runway shows, wholesale markets and special showcases put on by designers to present new products lines. Buyers are expected to take notes and keep a look out for the next trend destined to hit the market. Every buyer’s ultimate goal is to have the retailer they work for be one of the first retailers on the market to promote the next trend in time to scoop up the majority of the sales.
Along with designers, buyers work closely with sales department representatives and clothing suppliers to ensure the products stocked are marketed in the best way and that they are no discrepancies with the products received. The majority of a buyer’s job involves negotiating the terms of a stock order with the supplier.
Depending on the size of retailer, which varies from large department chain to privately owned boutique, there may be individual buyers responsible for specific products – like women’s shoes or men’s pants. Larger retailers will also have multiple levels of seniority determined by experience and responsibility given. Securing a position as an assistant buyer, for example, will allow new graduates and those who have been around for less time in the industry to gain experience and exposure under the wing of a senior employee.
Colleges focused on fashion education will offer certification for students interested in buying and merchandising. Some community colleges will also offer similar programs, but for those seeking opportunities right out of school, attending a program known for its fashion centric education might be a better option – particularly for networking and gaining contacts.