Fashion buying is one of the most sought-after and exciting jobs in the $6bn global apparel industry. To go straight into a buying role, you'll usually need a qualification in retail or business or extensive experience in retail, personal shopping or visual merchandising.
It is a competitive field in fashion, but with the right skills, ability to keep up with the pace and a healthy dose of instinct, fashion buying can be a rewarding role.
Salaries for fashion buyers in the US range from $62,000 and $96,000 and £45,000 and £70,000 in the UK. The average salary for fashion buyers in Ireland is €43,725.
Fashion buying is a great career choice if you’re creative but more interested in the business side of fashion, rather than design.
What Does A Fashion Buyer Do?
A fashion buyer buys products for a company, such as garments and accessories, home textiles etc. for a retail store or a wholesaler.
The buyer works with a team of buyers at different levels, for example, senior, junior, and assistant, merchandisers, designers and garment technologists. All the activities undertaken by the buyer are to maximise the sales returns for the company’s buying budget.
It is ultimately the buyers’ role to understand their customers, keep abreast of the latest market trends, source the right products and get them into the stores at the right price and at the right time.
Fashion buyers typically work in the head office of a department store, high street store or online retailer. It's not always desk work; fashion buyers also need to attend trade and fashion shows every season and have meetings with designers to find out what styles they’re working on. This research helps buyers to work out what customers will be looking to buy in the future. Depending on a buyer's level and the type and size of the business they work for, their role may also involve international travel.
It’s a job that requires you to be organised, have an eye for detail, work to tight deadlines, and have great communication and negotiation skills along with good analytical and problem-solving skills to name a few.
Fashion buyers can have a diverse portfolio of roles and responsibilities depending on the company, location, brand and many other factors. In general, fashion buyers
Play an integral role within the infrastructure of the retail team
Track and analyse seasonal trends; trend forecasting and research
Manage production costs
Working with internal marketing and merchandising departments
Assessing quality and sustainability of product ranges
Ensure profit and growth for the company
As a buyer, you’ll be able to see the direct impact of your decisions on the brand. There’s nothing more exciting than seeing people wearing the products you chose!
Why Are Fashion Buyers in Demand?
New, innovative branches of the fashion industry are emerging all the time, creating new roles within the umbrella of fashion buying. For example, Penneys (Primark) is now hiring an ‘Ethical Trade Trainee’ based in Dublin, Ireland as increasing emphasis is placed on ethics in the fashion industry. This makes it an exciting time to start your career in the world of fashion buying and business of fashion.
All retail companies need fashion buyers, there is a massive global retail industry out there for you to sink your teeth into exploring. Portobello Institute graduates work as fashion buyers in Ireland, the UK, The Netherlands, Germany and across the world if you are interested in looking further afield.
There are multiple levels at which you can work in fashion buying: Assistant Buyer, Junior Buyer, Buyer, Senior Buyer, Head of Buying, and Buying Director opening opportunities for careers across multiple levels.
How Do You Start A Career As A Fashion Buyer?
In order to kickstart your career as a fashion buyer, one of the best things you can do is to enrol in a degree programme that is centred around getting you real-world experience, internships and building your network of contacts for when you graduate.
Portobello Institute offers BA (Hons) in Fashion Buying & Merchandising and BA (Hons) in Fashion Management awarded by London Metropolitan University.