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What does a Fashion Buyer do?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A fashion buyer purchases clothing and/or accessories for a retail apparel store or chain of stores. Building and maintaining good relationships with suppliers is a key part of the job. The person's main goal is to purchase fashions that their target customer base will want to buy.

While it may seem obvious that a fashion buyer must keep his or her target customer in mind when purchasing fashions for a retail store, this is an absolutely crucial component of the job. Retail clothing stores make their profits from product sales; if customers aren't buying the products, the store doesn't turn enough profit. Therefore, buyers have to understand the clothing needs, desires, and budget of the store's typical shoppers.

The daily duties of most fashion buyers include almost constant communication — either by telephone or email — with different suppliers. They order samples and must be sure to follow up in a timely way with suppliers to keep a positive rapport with them. When ordering clothing and/or accessories, buyers must negotiate prices and delivery times with suppliers. They always have to be aware of what the store's selling price on each purchased item will be as well as what to have in the store for each season.

A fashion buyer may have a team of assistant buyers to manage. This will depend on the size of the store. Entry-level employees report to, and are often trained by, the senior buyer. While the senior buyer delegates purchasing tasks to junior buyers, he or she must oversee and usually approve all purchases made for the store.

These fashion professionals usually travel a great deal. A senior retail buyer is likely to attend national fashion and industry trade shows as well as similar events overseas. He or she will also likely travel to meet face-to-face with suppliers, and France and China are common destinations. France is a major source of fashion trends, while China is a popular location for suppliers of finished garments.

An assistant fashion buyer doesn't usually travel at all until after at least a year of training is completed. The traveling duties of a buyer are considered to be a necessary and significant part of the career. New trends can often be discovered and supplier relationships are usually strengthened through face-to-face meetings.

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Discussion Comments

By anon124280 — On Nov 05, 2010

that sounds like my kind of job. always on top of my game is my middle name. i would love to have that kind of job.

By subway11 — On Jul 04, 2010

Sunny27- That is true, but fashion buyers need to forecast fashion trends correctly before they can even begin negotiating anything.

Performing research successfully locates future fashion trends, which is why many travel to Europe to see what trends the Europeans are following. Also, keep in mind that the fashion buyers buy clothing several seasons ahead, so forecasting future trends is a must.

If the buyer forecasts wrong and purchasing clothing that does not sell, they could lose their job. So the stress level of this job is very high and not as glamorous as many believe. Fashion buyers always need to be on top of all fashion trends.

By Sunny27 — On Jul 04, 2010

I agree that fashion buyers do a great deal of traveling, but most travel to New York where most of the fashion vendors are.

The garment district on 7th avenue is full of fashion buyers looking to negotiate products for their stores. Buyers really need to obtain a competitive price in order make the purchase profitable for the store.

The appropriate levels of stock along with the right price set the fashion buyer on the road to reaching their gross margin goals. This determines the profitability of the proposed line and the eventual success of it.

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