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Fashion Buyer Jobs

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Fashion buyers work with suppliers, including major manufacturers or small-scale designers, to build the perfect range of products for their employers.

However, it's not all watching catwalk shows and wining and dining designers, with the modern professional in a fashion buyer job also expected to be business-savvy, numerically-literate and highly driven.

Professional and Academic Requirements

Though not essential, any kind of fashion-related degree is a good start, with employers likely to want to see evidence of a knowledge of how the industry works rather than just an enthusiasm for all things clothes-related.

Many degree courses will offer modules relating to the supply and demand side of the glamorous world of fashion, though it is also possible to supplement a course that doesn't with extra post-graduate qualifications such as those offered by the Sector Skills Council.

Additionally, big employers may also want to see evidence of a knowledge of the business world, so again, any relevant qualification can help a candidate stand out from the crowd.

But breaking into the highly-competitive world of fashion buying is not just about the paper qualifications.

Work experience is essential, with most new buyers having racked up at least 12 months' worth of unpaid internships before really getting their foot in the door.

Personal Attributes

Of course, it goes without saying, a love of fashion is essential for this line of work.

Employers expect their buyers to always be on top, or preferably one step ahead of, the latest trends, so the best professionals eat, sleep and breathe fashion.

However, this alone is not enough.

Fashion buyers also need to have good business heads, with negotiating with suppliers, securing contracts and building new working relationships just as important as a keen sense of enthusiasm.

Potential Rewards

Most would-be-buyers are attracted to this line of work due to the life of glamour on offer.

And, indeed, top fashion buyers can live the good life, jetting off to fashion and trade shows around the world, wining and dining clients and schmoozing with big-name fashionistas all part of the day job.

While only a minority get to live the dream, fashion buyers at all levels nevertheless get to work in the industry they love on a daily basis, with added rewards including knowing about all the latest trends well before the general public and being able to bring a sense of individualism and creativity to a role.

Over time, a range of career opportunities could open up to top-performing fashion buyers, including senior positions at large department stores or fashion houses, while some may also want to enhance their flexibility and pay packets by going freelance.

Possible Drawbacks

As with all jobs in the fashion industry, landing a position as a buyer is tough, with competition fierce and employers expecting candidates to have significant amounts of - usually unpaid - experience before they are likely to offer them even a lowly-paid entry role.

Other possible drawbacks could include the need to constantly stay on top of the fashion game, with those who lose their enthusiasm even for a bit likely to suffer professionally.

Furthermore, though sometimes it can bring great joy, at other times, fashion buying can be stressful, particularly when a new range doesn't take off or if troubles with suppliers arise.

Biggest Employers

Most of the larger retail firms in the UK have their own in-house buyers, with the likes of the Arcadia Group, John Lewis and Marks and Spencer among the biggest employers.

Additionally, with the e-commerce world going from strength to strength, online retail firms such as Asus are also emerging as the best place to work in the industry, not least due to the fact that they are now working at the forefront of the industry and have the ability to be a bit more adventurous in their stock choices.

The Fashion Retail Academy in London can be a good source of advice on getting into the fashion buying industry.

Meanwhile, qualified buyers may decide to go freelance and may even opt to set up their own fashion boutiques.


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