Career as a Fashion Buyer
A fashion job that involves shopping? That certainly sounds like a dream, right? But, as tempting as the term ‘fashion buying’ sounds, it is just as much of an important role in the fashion industry. And, usually, a difficult one too. We know that the fashion world takes the talent and expertise of many different professionals who contribute to the sustainable success of the industry, year on year. In that chain of professionals, one is that of a fashion buyer. A career that can make or break the business of a fashion label/brand. How so? Read on to find out more about this career.
Who is a Fashion Buyer
A fashion buyer is someone who works with fashion retail stores to make sure their stock is trend-relevant, defines the brand’s aesthetics, and is made for their target audience. In other words, a fashion buyer selects and buys the entire inventory of a store from its suppliers/designers in a strategic way, to maximize sales and profits in that given time. Now, we all know that although this may sound like an easy feat, it takes a lot more than just shopping.
A fashion buyer needs to be equipped with an eye for trend updates, business acumen, fashion know-how, market scenarios, the brand’s target audience and their shopping preference and patterns, their budget, and other factors. All of the above and more is important when it comes to knowing what exactly a retail brand needs to stock up on, to make more sales. Of course, this changes as per seasons, festivals, and global phenomena, which is exactly why a professional fashion buyer is an asset to every retail store.
What Does a Fashion Buyer Do
A fashion buyer can have some or all of the following roles, and many times, these roles may even blur with those of a fashion merchandiser. Nevertheless, here are the broad roles/duties of a fashion buyer.
- Fashion Forecasting
Yes, fashion forecasting is also a stand-alone career in fashion, but here’s the thing. In fashion, many careers can also be a part of a job role in one another, which is exactly why you’ll see many common duties and roles in most fashion careers. As a fashion buyer too, fashion forecasting may or may not be a part of your duties.
Depending on your experience, job capacity, employer, etc., you may either work alongside a fashion forecaster or don that hat yourself.
Here, since your end goal is to determine and buy the stock of a retail store, you need to have a plan in place for the same. Meaning, you need to know what that retail brand’s audience would need from them at a given time, based on the surrounding festivities, seasons, global situations, global trends, etc. You must be equipped with fashion forecasting skills here, in order to predict what the next big thing will be and accordingly, stock it up for your retail brand. If you buy clothes that are future trend-relevant, you will stand more chances at selling them for better profits.
- Analytical and Tech Skills
Along with the right analytical skills, one also needs to be tech-savvy. Estimating and setting the budget, taking care of the orders, keeping track of the inventory, all using tech and software tools, is one of the most important roles of a fashion buyer. Besides this, the buyer must optimize their analytical skills to understand the reason and logic behind choosing and buying certain products and also present it to the concerned people - this is where your analytical and tech skills come into play.
- Creative Skills Although fashion buying may not be a primary creative career, it still uses your creativity. It’s, after all, the art of choosing what the inventory of fashion stores will look like and that does take your imaginative, fashion, and creativity skills. A fashion buyer has to gauge a hundred different factors and come down to a streamlined plan that will guarantee maximum sales, and that does need the best of your creative skills.
- Business Acumen
Since a fashion buyer has to study the market, the upcoming trend reports, and the past customer behavior patterns, in order to predict their future preferences and sales, they need to be equipped with business skills too. Sometimes, their job requires them to even set budgets, set a number to expected sales, strategize what will sell how and work around the given budget. Only the right business being can find their way around the many constraints, requirements, and goals to come down to a feasible plan that is strategic, smart, and bound to get the right results.
- Communication Skills
One important part of the job of a fashion buyer is maintaining and building relationships with suppliers, designers, manufacturers, and anyone involved in the process before a collection is set out to sell. Every retail store has a different requirement and brand value. While some may require premium luxury clothes and fabrics, others may need those of a different quality. And, it’s the fashion buyer who is responsible for the same. It’s obvious that they need to have a solid relationship with the concerned suppliers and people who will be working with them for these requirements. It’s important for them to have an understanding of their work well enough, so there is room for better deals and negotiations too.
- Team-Work and Collaboration
More often than not, fashion buyers need to work in association with other fashion professionals like merchandisers, designers, suppliers, vendors, and other individuals who are involved in the business. This is necessary to make sure that everything is in place and the operations of the business are running smoothly. Naturally, this means that as a fashion buyer, you not only need to be comfortable with teamwork but also be open to collaborations and the exchange of ideas and opinions.
How to Get Started
1. Identify if You Have the Aptitude: Get that self-analysis and assessment going and make sure you have what it takes to at least pursue a career in fashion buying. Here, you need an interest and aptitude in fashion trends, market behavior, business skills, and more.
2. Seek Professional Guidance: If need be, don’t hesitate to consult a career counselor or a fashion expert for advice. Moreover, you can attend educational fairs and seminars conducted for fashion aspirants to get clarity on the field and its scope.
3. Read Up on the Career: The more you read up on the career as a fashion buyer on reliable offline and online sources, the more you’ll know what to expect and how you can prepare yourself better to get started there.
4. Get a Degree: This step goes without saying! There is no specific degree meant for a career in fashion buying, but there are complementing courses that teach many aspects of it under a different certification. A degree in fashion designing, fashion merchandising, and fashion business and administration are a few to name.
5. Upskill and Expand Your Knowledge: Getting started with a bachelor degree is not enough. No matter what stage you are at, upskilling is only an add-on. So, don’t think twice before pursuing short courses, workshops, and other forms of learning that can help expand your knowledge.
6. Let Experience Add to Your Expertise: Finally, go out into the professional world of fashion and gain some concrete experience. Start slow and smart with a few internships, and then head into different jobs to build a portfolio of relevant experience.
You’ll eventually reach a point where you’ll realize that you’re now all set and ready to take over the fashion industry with your skills and expertise. One way or another, patience, persistence, and passion are non-negotiable assets that need to be by your side throughout your journey.