It's up to the fashion buyer to know, both intuitively and through research,
what looks are going to be in fashion in the coming season. That's because
they're the ones who decide what clothing shows up in the shops of the nation.
Fashion buyers purchase women's, men's and children's clothing for both
retail and wholesale stores. They're responsible for buying all kinds of items,
including lingerie, shoes, scarves, belts and jewelry. Some purchase goods
for a particular department and are given a specific budget to work with.
In smaller stores, fashion buyers are responsible for buying the entire
inventory. Chain stores often have buyers in the firm's head office who select
products to be used in all of the firm's stores.
When purchasers come up with a buying plan, they think about the customer's
needs, fashion trends, potential suppliers and prices. A buyer must make sure
that the department or store will make a profit from their purchases. "Money
is always a concern," says Terry Hughes, a fashion buyer in Georgia. "It's
not like a shopping spree because you're ordering out of your business's pocket.
If they don't sell, you don't have a business."
In order to know what to purchase, a fashion buyer analyzes market reports,
talks to consultants, goes to fashion shows and keeps in touch with customers.
To purchase clothing, buyers attend trade shows and meet sales representatives.
"We go twice a year to trade shows where manufacturers set up and we can look
at all the lines that will be out the following year," says fashion buyer
When making a purchase, buyers base their decisions on price, availability,
reliability and selection. "We go to trade shows, take notes, photographs
and then go home and work with our buying plan before we make any decisions,"
In addition to purchasing clothes, a buyer is usually in charge of the
new clothing displays, deciding on the decor, signs, lighting, shelving and
fixtures that will be needed for a display. They also work closely with salespeople
and managers to make sure they understand new fashion trends.
Fashion buyers who work for larger stores spend much of their time tracking
inventory and shifting stock between stores. "I have to monitor the sales
in each of the stores because something that is hot in one store may not be
selling in another," says Meagher.
Fashion buyers work for retail chains, department stores, independently
owned stores and for wholesale distributors.
Most buyers work 35- to 40-hour weeks, Monday through Friday. However,
the job requires weekend and evening work to travel to shows or attend meetings.
Overtime is also required when buyers prepare new budgets and make purchasing
decisions. The holiday season is especially hectic.
During their busy workdays, buyers will meet with vendors, sales representatives,
store executives and customers. "We deal directly with at least 25 suppliers,"
says buyer Asif Husain.
A flair for color and design is very important in this field. In addition
to being creative, buyers must be analytical, well organized and good at basic
While strength isn't needed in this profession, physically challenged people
may encounter some difficulties, depending on the amount of travel required.
Buyers often visit trade shows, factories, fashion shows and manufacturers'
This is a job that often requires experience in retail. Generally, people
work as sales clerks or as assistants before they become fashion buyers. "Anybody
thinking of this should have retail experience," says Hughes.
Fashion buyers agree that you should get retail experience in the area
where you would eventually like to become a fashion buyer. "You need to be
able to see what's selling, and watch to see what buyers are bringing in,"
Of course, you have to love clothing to enjoy this job. Successful buyers
have good taste in clothing and know their customers.
They are also well organized and decisive. "You have to go for the bare
minimum if you're not sure about something, but you also don't want to be
sold out right away. It takes good decision making," says Hughes.
Buyers enjoy meeting with many different people and are comfortable negotiating
with suppliers, dealing with staff and solving in-store problems. Buyers can
often become managers or supervisors within the retail and wholesale industry.