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The Buyer’s EditionCOMPOSURE MONTHLY INSET MAGAZINE
BY MARTYNA, MAEGAN, ALESSIA AND YAWA
WHAT IS A BUYER?
COMPOSURE| the job
As a Buyer, you select the items that will be stocked in store, based on both fashion forecasting trends and what you predict will be popular with shoppers. A fashion buyer must also negotiate the prices and details of delivery with garment suppliers, to attain the targeted margin without compromising the quality of the product. Most importantly, a buyer needs to stay current with fashion industry.
“The most important qualities that cannot be taught are enthusiasm and self-motivation, all else can be taught on the job. If one has some of the above qualities and is willing to learn the rest, they have the potential to become a successful buyer.” Senior Buyer for Arcadia.
The most important qualities are enthusiasm and self-motivation“
”kEY SKILLS AND ATTRIBUTES
expected salaries| Composure
45k+ per year
Junior Buyer:26-29k per year
Buyer: 35-38k per year
Senior Buyer:38-43k per year
Assistant Buyer: 20-25k per year
Buyer’s Admin Assistant:
17-20k per yearHead of Buying:
anywhere between 50k and 90k per
We spoke to a number of sources, to find out the one thing nobody wants to talk about: money!
If you remember, how did you feel the first day working within the industry?Scary, I was a graduate trainee and had never lived in London. I started on the shop floor in aa department store called Everything with Chips with some very lively characters called Wilma and Lily who kept me very entertained. My feet really hurt and at the time I had no idea about anything IT but learnt a lot about London gay clubs!
What prompted you to choose this/that career path? Saturday job in Boots which I loved, joined the grad training scheme but had no idea which path would follow, was initially interested in marketing but changed my mind when the men’s tie buyer took me on an appointment with him, I was captivated.
Would you say that having some sort of fashion background or generally creative background is essential for a job within womenswear buying? No , I studied History at Uni. They like open-minded people who can make decisions, humanities are good base subjects. However high st brands may like a fashion background. Textiles is useful for garment tech.
Any tricks of the trade?Know what your competitor is going to do before they do; network as it’s a small industry that loves a gossip. Learn to say no, over optioning makes poor ranges and always ends in mark down.
Any advice for newcomers within the industry? Expect to work hard, the first year is hell! It gets better and
better as you progress. Take up every opportunity to travel young. Get on with your merchandiser.
What were your daily responsibilities whilst you were working within the industry?It changed all the time, I started as an assistant Buyer in Hosiery and was responsible for meeting suppliers daily and ordering basic stock. I was also responsible for chasing the deliveries and getting it onto the shop floor as fast as possible. I was then promoted to Buyer of accessories & started to develop ranges and travel. I spent a lot of time in leather factories in Italy. Designer and contemporary Buying was my real challenge, great product, massive egos and very long hours. Lots of travel and RTW shows. Managing brands at this level is very challenging.
What prompted you to leave working with in the industry and an educator with the FRA?Got fed up with travelling and wanted my weekends back. Love working with young people so teaching was a no brainer although I really miss the money and the store discount!!
How did you get into your role at the FRA?Started just popping in to do talks in 2006 and gradually got the teaching bug.
Any big learning curves made whilst within the industry? Or any horror stories that proved valuable learning tools?Loads.…markdowns! Once when doing a buy at Miu Miu I was persuaded by the VM team to buy neon rara miniskirts as they wanted to do a window with them. Sell thru 0% despite marking down by 75 %, my boss took a photo of the rail of unsold horrors and stuck it on his wall. It still haunts me! If in doubt say no! And never drink on the job, especially in Italy where lunch is part of the experience.
Any good stories? The old Buyers had all the good stories, my old boss used to talk about the days in the 70/80s when they had a gin bar under the escalators where deals were done. The Buyers were famous for their long lunches. Selfridges has a table in the board room that all the celebs used to sign when visiting the store, it is worth a fortune.
A DAY IN THE LIFE | COMPOSURE
Never drink on the job, especially in Italy where lunch is part of the experience!
We spoke to Debbie, a buyer from Selfridges who went on to lecture at the FRA, to get her trade secrets.
Why did you choose this career path?I loved product from an early age. My grandma taught me how to sew and knit and I love making things. No day is ever the same, and l get bored easily. No day is boring in Buying !
Do you need a degree for your job role?Textile Management - Ba HonsLeeds university Year in New South Wales Australia
What are your daily responsibilities on the job?- Working closely with the owner Chrissie Rucker to deliver her product vision. - Managing the buying team and supply base to deliver this.- Setting the Seasonal Strategy.- Setting the Product Direction to deliver increased Profit year on year.- Working with partners in Retail, Direct VM to deliver the product vision.!
What skills are essential for the job?- Communication! Good communication is critical.- Organization, time management, and photographic memory for product! (we work across 4 seasons in a week)- Negotiation skills, ability to develop your own a style and manner that can help you get what you need! - Gut instinct and a great eye.- A passion for product, you’ve got to love it! Some days are tough and that gets you through.
Where do you see yourself going from here?I’m happy at The White Company for the next few years. I hope to retire to the Alps and have my own business.
Why did you choose this career path?Love clothes and equally love motivating and growing teams.
Do you need a degree for your job role?Yes
What are your daily responsibilities on the job? - Accountable for the strategy, management, direction and team who produce our clothing ranges. - Creative and commercial direction. - Collection development and sign offs.- Supplier relationships.- Commercial and financial planning.- Team development and management.- Sales analysis and Customer understanding- Leadership at Board level
What skills are essential for the job?- Vision. - Customer knowledge and understanding of market changes. - Financial and commercial accountability.- Communication skills.- Understanding of global supply chain.- Corporate and social responsibility and price negotiation.- Product development from sketch through to production.- Marketing and brand communication.
Where do you see yourself going from here?Consultant/ Mentor/ Advisor/ Non Exec Director. I secretly would like to write!
Why did you choose this career path? I knew from a young age that I wanted to work in a creative environment, either in art or fashion. I was lucky to have the opportunity to start working in a buying office and have stuck at it.
Do you need a degree for your job role?Most people have a textile or fashion related degree, but there are people in the team who have got here without a related degree. I studied textiles at Winchester school of art.
What are your daily responsibilities on the job?- Delivery of commercial range of products on time that will deliver the sales. - Working closely with the design, tech and merchandising teams.
What skills are essential for the job? - Organizational skills- A problem solving mind set!
Where do you see yourself going from here? There is always more you can learn and do, even within the same role. I am passionate about my category so I am happy to stay put for now.
HEad of buying, the white company
knitwear buyer, the white company
clothing director, the white company
COMPOSURE | BUYER PROFILES
traveljob perks | COMPOSURE
As a more senior Buyer, you can expect to travel from time to time. There are two purposes for travel trips: factory visits, to ensure production is going well and there are no problems; and inspirational trips, to gain new insights and inspiration for future collections.
NEW YORKThe fashion capital of the United States, hosting fashion shows, magazines and head offices. Likely to be visited on shopping and inspirational trips.
LOS ANGELESThe burgeoning fashion city, with a laid-back surfer style, is tapped to be one of the next fashion capitals. Home to many street-wear brands and young creatives, there is growing opportunity for brands and it’s a great place for inspiration.
MILANConsidered one of the leading global cities in the world, Milan excels at art, design, and fashion among other areas. With a history that dates back to the Roman Empire, it is perfect for inspirational trips and as one of the key hosts of Fashion Week it’s perfect for Buyers to visit.
PARISLong hailed as the traditional home of fashion, called “the church” of fashion by Hedi Slimane, Paris is world renowned for its history in fashion. The city that invented haute couture, Paris is perfect for shopping and inspirational trips.
BANGLADESHLocated in the Bay of Bengal in South Asia, Bangladesh is one of the most populous countries despite not being one of the biggest in size. It’s apparel export to Western Brands is second only to China, and it accounts for 77% of the country’s total exports.
MAURITIUSAn island nation located in the Indian Ocean, the country’s growing textile trade is making it a popular sourcing destination. Promising skilled workers and low minimums, more and more companies are using factories located here.
PAKISTANLocated in South Asia, with a coastline along the Arabian Sea, Pakistan is considered a “cradle of civilisations”. Having been home to many ancient cultures, it is packed with history. Cotton production is growing each year in Pakistan, setting it as a key player in the textile industry.
CHINAThe second largest state by land size, located in Asia with a population of 1.38 billion people. Shanghai is the reigning fashion capital of China, and is expected to soon surpass America as the largest economy. As of 2013, 43% of the world’s goods were sourced from China.