How to Become a Fashion Buyer

Do people always tell you that you're wearing a cute outfit? Do you hear you have a flair for finding cute clothes? If you like to shop and dress on trend, being a fashion buyer might be the career path for you.  Fashion buying requires a wide range of creative and business skills. Interested in a life filled with fashion? Read on to learn how to become a fashion buyer. Path to Fashion Buyer There is not one set path for how to become a fashion buyer. It involves some creative skills, a good eye, a certain level of business savvy and experience.  Fashion buying is more about a set of personal skills and experience than just a certain degree. You can gain experience learning from the bottom by working in fashion related retail. Many successful fashion buyers will pursue a degree in fashion merchandising from either two or four-year programs. Fashion buyers also often have a background in data analysis, business or accounting.  Traits of a Fashion Buyer What does a fashion buyer do? Ultimately, they buy clothes and fashion accessories for stores. It sounds simple, yet requires a certain set of creative skills that cannot always be taught in a degree program.  Creative Eye The buyer's eye is ultimately what ends up putting clothes on the rack in the store. Their eye for creativity must recognize color, pattern, shape, lines or cut in clothing. You are not designing clothes, yet you need a creative eye to recognize good design. They need to be able to imagine for their customer if a piece of clothing will work for their customer base. They must decide if the pieces of a collection will match with the aesthetic of the store they are buying for. Recognize Trends Part of creativity is to recognize trends in fashion.  A buyer will visit fashion shows and showrooms from big names to unknowns in the fashion world. A buyer needs to recognize the trends showing up on the runway.  Will those trends translate for the average buyer in their market? The buyer needs to have a sense if the consumer will latch onto the trend or wish it gone with last year's hemlines.  Another part of trends is the sense for how long it will hold on? The fashion buyer needs to decide if the trend is worth pursuing for their customer.   Find Brands Gucci, Marc Jacobs, Chanel...they all have the big brand recognition. However, most consumers can't come close to affording those brands.  A good fashion buyer has to find brands that might be new or unknown and decide how they will play in their market. Driven and Engaged This is a job that requires a social personality. You cannot be shy and interact with designers and brands. Confidence is needed to interact and negotiate with fashion houses.  A fashion buyer will likely attend a plethora of fashion-related events. The buyer needs to interact and engage with the fashion industry to make connections for their brand. Skills of a Fashion Buyer While many of the creative skills of a fashion buyer are innate. Buying and merchandising fashion also requires some skills you can learn in a fashion merchandising program or business school. Business Savvy As a fashion buyer, you will need to work with budgets, data, and accounting.   Fashion buying has much to do with data and statistics as it does color and pattern. Buyers need to understand the statistics of what sells in their market, at what quantity and price point, and how their competition is (or is not) doing the same.  Negotiator Deciding what to buy also means deciding how much to pay for it. You will negotiate pricing for quantities for your stores. Part of your responsibility as the buyer goes beyond picking out great clothes, it also means getting them for the price point that fits with your consumer.  Purchasing A fashion buyer wears the role of purchasing agent. Along with that comes the paperwork of spreadsheets, purchase orders, and invoices.  A buyer must know how to work with data and computer programs that will help them keep track of their budgets, purchases, and shipments.  While every company is a little different, it is helpful to have an inventory software program for the management of all this information. Standard purchase order templates and invoices that are part of the program are a must for managing the flow of inventory purchases.  Check out this website for information on software programs that support the business side of fashion buying. Buyer to Merchandiser A fashion buyer's role is to be out in the fashion world looking for trends and brands. They make the purchases for the stores they represent.  They must also work hand in hand with the fashion merchandiser.  A fashion merchandising job is more about how you take the things purchased by the buyer and display and market them in the store. If a buyer brings in a whole line, they need to coordinate with the merchandiser on needs and best avenues to sell the product.  In a smaller operation, a buyer may also wear the hat of merchandiser. As a beginner, you may start as a merchandiser working on the retail end of the operation. As you gain experience and knowledge, transition into an outside buyer.  On the Road To How to Become a Fashion Buyer Let's be honest, most fashion buyers love clothes. They love the art of fashion and design. They have a savvy for the creative side of fashion, of putting together a great outfit.  Fashion buyers are shoppers on a bigger scale. They are picking out the things the rest of us will be buying or getting for a gift. They have to have to buy what they sense we will end up loving.  The path for how to become a fashion buyer is often not a straight one. There are a number of ways to get there, but knowing the traits and skill you need are the first step towards picking out our clothes for all of us in the future.  If you love fashion ( and you must), check out our blog for more fashion ideas.