Your Guide to How to Become a Fashion Buyer for a Clothing Company

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Jan 4, 2019

Jan 4, 2019 • by Rebecca Smith

Most people think fashion buyers have a luxurious lifestyle of all-day shopping and connecting with like-minded clients. Although there are some days buyers spend in high-end stores and laid-back lunch meetings, most of the time, the life of a fashion buyer is hard work. 

Buyers largely contribute to an entire company's success. They're the ones who determine what an upcoming collection will look like and how it's going to sell. They choose the fabrics and styles that will go to market and work closely with the marketing team to make sure everything goes as planned. 

It's a high-pressure, fast-paced role to be in. But, it's also incredibly rewarding and fun! Not to mention, it can be easier than you may think to become a qualified candidate. 

Here's everything you need to do to become a fashion buyer.

Learn How the Fashion Industry Works

There's a lot more to the fashion industry than what meets the eye. It takes months of careful planning and project execution to create the clothes you see in stores and online. 

As a buyer, you need to have more than a sense of style. You need to be able to see the big picture of your role within the fashion industry and to stay ahead of industry changes as they occur.

The following are a few tips to help you do that.

Keep Up with Current Trends

The only way to predict upcoming trends is to focus on current and past styles. Take a close look at what people are wearing right now and how they're mixing new pieces with trends that are on their way out.

Notice what the top brands in fashion are doing and watch Fashion Week shows like it's your job - because one day, it will be! This is all part of creating a successful seasonal collection. Before buyers choose which pieces to buy and what fabrics to put into production, they have to make sure they're headed in the right direction.

Identify Where You Want to Be

It's impossible to keep up with all the current trends in fashion. Between what's new with American men 35-40 years old and British ladies ages 15-20, you'd drive yourself crazy trying to understand every single trend out there. 

You have to focus your efforts around the fashion niche you'd like to work in. Maybe you'd like to be a buyer for a worldwide swimsuit company or you'd prefer to move to Europe and work in Italian luxury shopping. Maybe you want to empower people through clothes or make the production process more fair and ethical. 

You can't do all of these things in one position. But, you can take the time now to learn about all the different opportunities a fashion buyer has and choose which ones you'd like to work toward.

Make Connections

Whether you see yourself running the production process for a large company one day or working closely with a small team, you need to start making connections. Take internships and entry-level jobs in anything fashion-related. Find your mentors within these roles and make it a point to attend fashion shows, too. 

This is your time to learn as much as you can. It's also your chance to create a strong reputation for yourself and get a few recommendations ready before you start applying to fashion buyer positions.

Build Your Skillset

You can know everything there is about fashion and style, but it doesn't mean anything if you're not capable of performing the day to day tasks of a fashion buyer. 

The skills you should focus on building the most are:

Data Analytics and Research 

Just as you need to be able to pick out the top trends from magazines and red carpet events, you also need to understand how industry shifts affect your company's bottom line. 

Fashion buyers make the connection between the two by digging into their company's sales data. They create sales goals for upcoming seasons based on numbers created in previous cycles.

Meanwhile, they're researching cost-effective ways to produce and transport new collections. This has to be done with quality in mind in order to meet consumer expectations. A company's brand and their available finances play a big role in the process, too. 

Buyers need to take all of these factors into consideration when making purchase decisions. They also have to be ready to think on their feet when things don't go as planned.

The Ability to Work Well with Others

Good news - you're not expected to do everything alone when you become a fashion buyer. In fact, you better have a demonstrated ability to work well with others on your resume. It's good to build management and communication skills as you prepare to apply for your dream job

Whether you're leading a student organization in college or managing a team in the working world, the ability to delegate is a must. This is what helps you set and achieve the goals you'll lay out for your teams. It's just as important as data analytics and knowledge of the industry's current state.

Get the Job as a Fashion Buyer! 

Once you've learned all there is about fashion and honed your skills to become a strong candidate, it's time to start sending out applications. Then, prepare for the interviews you're invited to. 

Remember, you're about to enter the world of fashion. Your interview outfit needs to display that you have an eye for design and tell the employers about your personality, too. It needs to be work-appropriate but not boring, and it should match some of the styles/values of the brand you want to be part of. 

For more interview tips to help you land the fashion buyer position you apply for, click here.