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There are two principal areas associated with fashion buying – manufacturing and retail.
Where manufacturing is concerned, traditionally in larger outlets, buyers will work closely with designers and apparel manufacturers to ascertain which styles and textiles will prove popular among consumers and to source the right materials and manufacturing techniques for collections. To do this they need to keep an extremely close eye on emerging fashion trends.
All retail outlets selling clothes, shoes, jewellery, makeup and accessories will employ buyers to select and source the items that consumers are going to want to see on the shop shelves. The buyers are also responsible for negotiating prices of goods and determining the right quantities in order to meet the predicted demand.
Buyers may be sent to fashion shows and trade events to discover and purchase new styles or they may go directly to designers and suppliers to negotiate deals.
The job demands insight and creativity along with a broad understanding of marketing techniques as buyers need to anticipate trends, oversee the production and manufacturing of various styles and know how to make new items appealing to consumers.
The job is extremely similar to that of a merchandiser and in smaller outlets both roles will be carried out by one person. Buyers focus more on the sourcing and buying of the goods, whereas merchandisers work out the best ways to market the goods to the consumer.
A certain level of numeracy is also needed as buyers will often oversee production costs, manage budgets, work out profits and make projections for future sales.