How To Become a Fashion Buyer (With Steps)

Updated June 24, 2022

Fashion buyers have significant roles in the fashion industry. They make decisions that help companies stay up to date with fashion trends and supply them with goods. The fashion industry is very competitive and becoming a fashion buyer can be challenging. In this article, we discuss what a fashion buyer is, what they do, how to become a fashion buyer, skills, salary and job outlook.

What is a fashion buyer?

A fashion buyer is an individual who works with a clothing retailer or fashion company to help them make purchasing decisions that promote their brand. A fashion buyer plays an important role in department stores and corporate offices—their choices can influence the revenue of the company, promote its brand and affect sales. Companies and retail stores rely on them to bring in stock that can achieve their goals.

What does a fashion buyer do?

A fashion buyer is responsible for discovering the latest trends, along with updating and managing product inventory to offer customer satisfaction and satisfy customer needs. Fashion buyers also commute to different manufacturing locations and showrooms to look for new products to purchase and negotiate with suppliers on the costs. Other responsibilities include:

  • Setting retail prices for the products

  • Developing sales strategies

  • Keeping up with industry trends and competition

  • Building relationships with suppliers

  • Ensuring suppliers meet deadlines

  • Discerning buying trends

  • Placing bids on clothes and accessories

  • Inspecting products

  • Overseeing budgets

How to become a fashion buyer

There are prerequisites that can increase your chances of breaking into the fashion industry. These prerequisites are:

1. Earning a high school diploma

There are companies that require a bachelor's degree with careers related to retail, while others require a high school diploma or a GED. Take courses in accounting, mathematics and business to prepare you for a career in fashion buying. Also, participate in any activity that can develop your interpersonal skills.

Related: 21 Good-Paying Jobs You Can Get with a High School Diploma

2. Get a bachelor's degree

A bachelor's degree can provide you with more opportunities, while a high school diploma, in some cases, can only get you an entry-level job. Large companies require fashion buyers to have a bachelor's degree because they prefer their employees to have knowledge in marketing. Degrees that offer courses in statistical analysis, accounting, economic theory and consumer behavior are advantageous. Here are some degrees you can choose to pursue:

  • Bachelor of Science in Merchandising: This degree equips you with Knowledge of product development, communications and manufacturing processes.

  • Bachelor of Science in Marketing: This degree prepares you for jobs related to advertising, public relations and marketing.

  • Bachelor in Fashion Design: This degree provides you with knowledge of the fashion industry, garment construction and fashion illustration.

  • Bachelor of Science in business administration: This degree educates you on accounting, management and finance.

Related: 9 Benefits of Going to College

3. Gain knowledge of the fashion industry

As a fashion buyer, you must keep up with industry trends and understand the customers' needs. Knowledge is your greatest asset, so the learning never stops. Make an effort to study the fashion industry, read fashion blogs and magazines to gain extra information. Additionally, you can visit shopping malls and observe clothing styles on display and observe people's style preferences.

Related: 15 Popular Careers in the Fashion Industry

4. Gain experience

You need to put your skills into practice, and getting experience can help you recognize your strengths and weaknesses. Here are ways you can gain experience:

  • Apply for Fashion Internships: Some companies hire people after they complete their internships. Research websites of fashion companies that have internships or contact a department store to see any available positions.

  • Get an entry-level position: You can find an entry-level position as an assistant buyer, retail salesperson or purchasing clerk. These jobs can educate you on inventory, negotiating prices, and the processes involved with sales systems.

  • Join an organization: There are organizations like the American Purchasing Society (APS) and the National Retail Federation (NRF) that provide networking opportunities, training, scholarships and professional development. These organizations also inform their members on current industry trends. People with different career levels can join these organizations.

If you don't know where to start to look for opportunities, look for professional recruitment agencies that help you find available opportunities for fashion buyers with their retailer clients. The agencies arrange an interview for you with the company once they find a match.

Related: Work Experience and Your Career: Definition, Importance and Tips

5. Obtain a certification

There are certifications that can increase your knowledge of the fashion industry and boost your resume. Some of these certifications are:

  • The National Retail Federation (NRF): This certification helps you develop mathematical skills to help with sales transactions and basic customer services skills, sales credentials and customer service. The minimum age requirement is 18.

  • The American Purchasing Society (APS): The APS provides five different certifications that include the Certified Purchasing Manager (CPPM), the Certified Purchasing Professional (CPP), the Certified Green Purchasing Professional (CGPP), the Certified Professional in Distribution and Warehousing (CPDW) and the Certified Professional Purchasing Consultant (CPPC). The recommended certification for a fashion buyer is the Certified Purchasing Professional (CPP). You must have three years of experience or a bachelor's degree to be eligible for the CPP exam.

6. Prepare for the interview

Before doing an interview, do research on the company's culture by looking at their websites and social media profiles. This helps you familiarize yourself with the company's style. Additionally, if you want to make an impression, it is important to dress the part. Ensure your outfit demonstrates your understanding of current trends, professionalism and personal style.

Related: 21 Job Interview Tips: How To Make a Great Impression

Skills for a fashion buyer

Becoming a fashion buyer requires you to have a wide variety of skills. Here are skills for a fashion buyer:

  • Knowledge in mathematics: You need to have mathematical skills to perform calculations and compare different prices from different suppliers. You must also ensure the company is getting the best price or discounts.

  • Organized: Fashion buyers handle a lot of information and tasks. You need to have the ability to remain organized.

  • Negotiation skills: You need to have the ability to negotiate with suppliers on contract agreements, handle other formalities and find the best deals for the company.

  • Decision-making skills: You must have the ability to make purchasing decisions on behalf of the company and decide what product is appealing to customers.

  • Analytical skills: As a fashion buyer, you need to make good purchases that are profitable for the retailer. Having the ability to analyze the quality, price and profitability of the items help make informed decisions.

  • Interpersonal skills: You must have the ability to build professional and strong relationships with suppliers and coworkers to prevent any future problems and also maintain a great workflow.

Related: Top Hard Skills to Put on a Resume (And How to Improve Yours)

Salary and job outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a projection of about 36,600 jobs will be available for buyers and purchasing agents yearly from 2019 to 2029. The average salary of a fashion buyer is $32,082 per year ($13.87 per hour).

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