If you consider yourself a fashion guru and can predict trends, network with people, and perform sales analysis, then a career as a fashion buyer suits you. Which fashion degree do you have to pursue, and how can you choose the right internships to place you on the path to becoming a buyer? Find out below.
What are a buyer’s responsibilities?
A buyer’s responsibilities vary depending on whether they work on the retail side or the wholesale side.
A retail buyer makes predictions based on their analysis of consumer preferences. They choose the nature and volume of items that either go to sale or stay in the stocks. They select and meet with suppliers regularly to negotiate the terms of the contract. Occasionally, They attend trade and fashion shows to gauge the trend while assembling a new collection.
A buyer working on the wholesale end of the business is responsible for sourcing fabrics, materials, and accessories for a fashion house. For instance, companies catering to athletic wear may have an in-house fabric R&D facility, which they may then outsource to a textile mill for production. The buyer stays in touch with the factories or agents regarding the fabric’s quality, quantity, and pricing. A luxury brand, on the other hand, may require reams of customised leather and monogrammed accessories. The buyer’s responsibility is to ensure a steady, profitable supply of the same while maintaining cordial relations with the sellers for the future.
In addition to the above, a common set of responsibilities include the following:
- Perform a cost-benefit analysis of not only the supply of items but also the logistics involved.
- Keep track of the inventory.
- Write reports on sales, forecast sales volumes, and justify buying strategies to upper management.
- Conduct market surveys, obtain customer feedback and document them.
- Review and set key performance indexes.
- Guide and oversee the performance of junior members.
What skills will you require, and how can you obtain them?
A buyer’s job is primarily one of management, and you will need all the associated skills. You required an analytical mind, great communication and negotiation skills, and the ability to crunch numbers using software such as MS Excel. Additionally, you may need to be familiar with vendor invoicing and finding discrepancies in the same. Domain knowledge of the particular fashion accessory you are catering to is also a great asset. Sometimes, you may need to oversee customer surveys, focus groups and perform data analysis to determine customer demographics and preferences.
You will need to pick a fashion degree course that introduces you to an analysis of the creative industry, consumer behaviour, communication, management in fashion, accounting in fashion, textiles, and brand development. Additionally, internships offer great opportunities for hands-on learning, like shadowing the firm’s merchandiser to learn about the duties of both a buyer and a merchandising director. Don’t pass up on an opportunity to intern at smaller boutiques. There you can learn about customer preferences, sourcing textiles from suppliers, invoicing, and how to manage the branding of a label. The lessons are valuable when you want to scale up to a fashion buyer.
A fashion buyer determines what fashion items to buy, how much to buy of each size, colour, and style; and at what price to buy them. They manage a good relationship with all the sellers, negotiate the terms of trade, and examine invoices to ensure there is no overcharging of any item. Further, since they track the inventory of a company’s store, they must have a keen sense of what customers want and when. Expert buyers in the senior levels can go into merchandise management.
Since the responsibilities are quite steep and the work hours demanding, a fashion buyer generally makes above the median salary irrespective of the location. If this sounds like a job for you, look for a great fashion degree to get you a head start in this profession. You can follow your passion and have a fulfilling career.