The role of a Fashion Buyer is more than simply picking out clothes.
There are many roles within the fashion industry. Most are aware of designers, stylists, and tailors but what about the roles that don’t get as much face time with the public? Where do local boutiques get their clothes from and who decides what they will sell? This is the role of a Fashion Buyer.
What is a Fashion Buyer?
If you follow us on Instagram (and if you’re not, you probably should because we are highly entertaining) you have probably noticed that Megan and Nikki have been posting about their buying trip in Vancouver. They are letting us into the unique world of their lives as Fashion Buyers. Twice a year the powerhouse duo go around Canada – and the world when we aren’t living through a pandemic – and meet with clothing brands to go through their upcoming collections and pick which items they want to bring into espy. This may sound simple but it’s truly a role that requires a fashion expert.
A Fashion Buyer has to have a knowledge of fashion that runs deep. They are required to know where fashion has been, where it is now, and where it is going. Not only that, but they need to know what works within their demographic. A simplified example of this is how Megan and Nikki would never bring in thin silk pants for Calgarians during a Fall season. Though you can count on brands from California showing an item like that because to Californians winter does not mean the same thing.
How do Buyers source clothing?
Like we mentioned above, most Buyers travel to trade shows and meet with brands and designers at their factories to see their upcoming collections. Meeting in person is important. You simply cannot understand how a clothing item fits and feels through a computer screen.
Once they have seen everything the brand/designer has to offer for the season, the Buyer has to decide which items to bring into the store. This can be difficult (especially during the current times) because they are usually buying a season in advance. For example, while the Spring ’21 season is just around the corner and espy is receiving spring items every week, Megan & Nikki are currently buying for Fall ’21. This is where their knowledge of previous season buying trends and upcoming fashion is vital. They must be able to predict the spending habits of our clients long before they actually do the spending.
How do Buyers influence other departments?
espy is like a machine. All parts of the machine need to be working and communicating with each other to ensure success with the clothing that the Buyers have picked out. There also needs to be a trust that each part of the machine will do what it’s been programmed to do so that no other parts have issues.
Once Buyers have decided on what is best to bring into their store. The next step for a small boutique like espy is to make sure that all other departments (stylists, marketing, receiving, etc.) know what is coming and when. This way they can plan their work accordingly. The marketing department can start to come up with content to advertise the styles and brands coming in, the receiving departments can plan which shipments to prepare and receive first, and the stylists can start to become experts on the fit and story behind the clothing.
How has all of this changed in a post-covid world?
We are all sick of hearing about how the pandemic has affected everything, so we will keep this short. Basically, Covid has made everything slower and brands are producing less product. It has also required Megan and Nikki to be experts at assessing clothing suitability for espy through virtual appointments because in-person appointments are not as readily available as they used to be. Patience has been the keyword during this last year.