The role of the fashion buyer is highly sought-after as it blends together many aspects of managing a fashion store. This is a highly strategic position which can make or break a business. But what does this role entail?
A fashion buyer is a person who is in charge of planning and selecting garments and clothing ranges to sell either in-store or online. A fashion buyer must consider factors such as trends, market and customer demands, and price points in order to create a selection of products that ‘flyes off the shelves’.
Despite all of the glamour that this position entails, being a fashion buyer is a very stressful job which entails a lot of difficult decisions every day.
In this post, after conducting extensive research, we’re going to summarise some of the best practices that fashion buyers should follow in order to succeed at their job.
To help you navigate this post, we’ve provided an index to help you go through the information at a glance.
- Seek brands which have relevance and push social boundaries
- Don’t be afraid of going against the current
- Make sure you look into the whole garment pipeline for quality control
- Also, have your store brand identity in mind
- Go through uncharted territories to look for something new
- Crossover to other industries to find new influences and trends
- Have a strong signature, that makes your picks reflect your fashion vision
1. Seek brands which have relevance and push social boundaries
The first thing to remember to deliver an excellent service as a fashion buyer is our WHY, and what is the WHY of the fashion industry. The fashion industry is a reflection of contemporary society, it allows individuals to express their identity through their style, and make an observation on contemporary culture. In this sense, to keep fashion current and relevant a fashion buyer always needs to look for those brands which are able to embody the true spirit of the moment, by challenging the norm, by breaking the rules. It is important as a fashion buyer to always look for the next fringe in style, but with an understanding of the difference that can be found between a collection which is authentic Avant-guard and one which are only a re-flavouring the past.
2. Don’t be afraid of going against the current
As you follow our first piece of advice you may find yourself navigating uncharted waters or even worse swimming against the current. In a world where everything is available everywhere, it’s your signature approach and your ability to curate a selection of pieces that speaks loudly about who you are as a buyer and a fashion expert. It’s ok to do things that others wouldn’t do, actually, it’s a promising sign, indicating you are following a clear vision. Many buyers could make their calls based on past market successes, but the truth is that past success can’t predict the future and have no guarantee of repeating themselves. This is why betting on something unusual is just as likely to pay off.
3. Make sure you look into the whole garment pipeline for quality control
Is the role of a fashion buyer solely rooted in understanding social trends and spotting promising designers? Not really, a fashion buyer needs to be able to tell apart fact from fiction. What we mean with this is simply that you need the skills and expertise to evaluate the quality (and asking price) of a product not only on the grounds of the glamour of the stylist or brand but on the basis of the actual quality of the supply chain that brought that garment to the store. Being able to assess the quality of the fashion pipeline is a key skill for a fashion buyer, as in this role you will be asked to assess the quality on the one hand, and the fashion component on the other, to fully appreciate the value of a piece.
4. Have your store brand identity in mind
As you know, a retail store is not simply selling clothing, is proving an experience, and in some fortunate cases, it’s also telling a story, building a narrative where your customers are the stars of the show. Metaphors aside, picking and choosing the right items to sell comes with some compromise. You always have to keep in mind what is the identity of your store, what kind of atmosphere and mood it wants to deliver, who are your customers and what is it that they are looking for. Only by remembering clearly what is the vision of your store, you can spend more time focusing on the pieces that add value to your shelves and are not a simple distraction.
5. Go through uncharted territories to look for something new
By now you’re probably able to see how our advice goes in two distinct directions, from the one end you need to look for new untrodden paths, that allow you to be an ‘early entrant’ in new spaces where young and upcoming designers are making things happen. The added value that you are bringing to your store is based on your ability to forecast new trends and establish new conversations and relationships - early on - when designers are still approachable and on the lookout for retail opportunities to start developing their collection’s reach. In order to achieve this goal, stray from the fashions shows, look elsewhere to identify something unique that has not yet hit the glossy magazines.
6. Crossover to other industries to find new influences and trends
Being able to find new niches to explore, or identifying open opportunities is one of the biggest challenges for a fashion buyer, and often times the reason why this profession has a very high earning potential. One way in which new ideas are created is by exploring possible overlaps between different industries. By creating cross-overs between industries and overlapping different imagery, style and even fabrics, new trends can be established. This is why, as a fashion buyer, you are required to have a broad cultural understanding of the fashion pipeline, so that you may be able to spot those ideas that have the potential to trickle-down onto fashion collections, delivering new and fresh ideas to the market.
7. Have a strong signature, that makes your picks reflect your fashion vision
Yes, you may be working for a store, or for a brand, you may not be an entrepreneur, but undeniably the fashion buyer’s job is a job which requires character and vision. Make sure that you always think about your own idea of fashion as you make your choices and build your collections. Being able to develop your own insight and style in designing your store’s garment selections is essential to building a reputation for yourself and a recognisable signature. As you think about how your career can progress, your own sense of identity, your buyer DNA is what will allow you to make a name for yourself and access new opportunities.
These are our 7 tips to succeed as a fashion designer and increase sales by developing an interesting, engaging and profitable collections for your stores. In this post, we’ve looked at both the artistic and business side of things, to understand what are the goals you need to keep in mind, and what avenues may be available to you in order to reach them. We hope you found this article useful and we encourage you to explore our blog further, by looking at the posts below, enjoy!