Fashion buying is a great role to consider if you’re interested in fashion but not too keen on the technical side of things. You might be wondering what exactly a fashion buyer does; read our factsheet to find out role responsibilities, salary expectations and more.
A fashion buyer is someone who plans and selects garments and clothing ranges to sell in clothing stores and online. Before making their decisions, a buyer must consider factors such as customer demand, price points and market trends. As well as selecting new ranges, a fashion buyer must also review current stock at regular intervals, and decide whether to replenish.
Day to day, a fashion buyer will carry out a range of different activities. Analysing consumer buying patterns and predicting future trends are two really important responsibilities for any fashion buyer. Other activities will include managing stock level plans, meeting suppliers for contract negotiation, attending trade fairs and helping out with promotional activities. Of course, the time of year will greatly affect the tasks a fashion buyer must prioritise.
Fashion buyers will usually be based in the head office of whichever company they are employed by. Typical employers include department stores, high street chains and online retailers.
Skills and qualifications
The easiest way to secure a role in fashion buying is to study a relevant degree programme. As fashion requires specific knowledge, opting for a course directly related to fashion is the best solution. You might want to consider some one of the following:
- fashion design
- fashion business
- fashion retail
If you’re looking to enter a graduate scheme – which are popular within buying – you should work to obtain a minimum of 2:2 in your degree.
If you have relevant hands-on experience, employers are likely to consider your application with a lower level of education, for example, a HND or a foundation degree.
As with any role in fashion, competition is fierce. As well as working to maintain an up-to-date knowledge of fashion trends, you should have the following to increase your chances of securing a job:
- negotiation skills
- numeracy skills
- creative flair
- communication skills
- commercial awareness
- organisation and planning
- ability to cope under pressure
According to information from paysale.com, the average annual income for a retail buyer just under £35,000, with the potential to reach beyond £48,000. (Please note that this information is not specific to the fashion industry.)
Career development and prospects
The fashion industry is particularly good at offering training programmes which lead to direct entry into a professional fashion buying role. These are often aimed at graduates, and typically take up to two years to complete.
Large retailers sometimes offer generic training schemes with the option to specialise in buying once you have completed the first stage of training. Some companies might even fund their trainees’ postgraduate or professional qualifications, such as a Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS) qualification, or an MBA.
For someone lacking in qualifications, the entry level role in the industry is buyer’s assistant; after two or three years, a buyer’s assistant can expect to progress to a junior buyer position if they have proved themselves capable. After a further two or three years, a junior buyer may be promoted to a senior buyer.