A fashion buyer needs to be analytical yet creative, flexible but also
able to judge what commercial trends will generate the most sales. It’s a
profession that demands the perfect mix of skill sets and is highly
sought-after by job applicants and leading fashion brands alike. This year,
FashionUnited spoke to fashion buyers from New York Fashion Week to owners
of multi-brand boutiques and experts at global trade fairs. They told us
what challenges they face as buyers, the next trends and what they think is
necessary to be a better buyer in fashion today.

Education and engagement

While Instagram and social media have arguably the biggest effect on
fashion trends, buyers still have a big role to play in what trends
customers are offered. One of the things buyers are looking for right now
is more education from sellers on their product. Kerry Bannigan, founder of
the conscious fashion campaign told FashionUnited at a recent fair, “We
have to start at the beginning part of the buying-purchasing system, which
is tradeshows. They have budgets, and we have to look at the ranges and
realms of what they’ve got to work with. We need to keep introducing more
methods and ways for them to learn about products.”

Another one of buyers’ biggest concerns has been getting connected to
the right people. People often come to trade shows and just go to their
usual vendors, and call it a day. It’s become very difficult to connect
with anyone new. Bannigan’s organization has started holding one-on-one
consultations on-site at trade shows where retailers can book an
appointment and come in and share what their concerns are or what they are
looking to do with their retail stores. This helps show organizers connect
them to the right people and brands based on their needs.

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Brand relationships and visual presentation

Club Designer is a family-owned luxury concept boutique that carries
numerous brands from designers Alaia to The Row. As one of Taiwan’s largest
private buyers of international brands, Club Designer started collaborating
with Farfetch in 2016 and today has an entirely integrated business on the
London-based e-commerce platform. Hsin Chen, who serves as Club Designer’s
Operations Director and Buyer told FashionUnited in an interview the
importance of brand relationships and visual presentation for a buyer.

How important is building relationships with brands?

There are staple brands Club Designer always feature because we’ve been
working with them for a long time. In this case, building a good
relationship with the brands is something that a buyer needs to maintain
and continue to develop.

What challenges do you face as a buyer?

As a buyer, you not only need to know what can easily be sold, but you
also need to have an image in your mind as to what items will create the
best visual presentation on the shop floor. It’s like gambling, as you can
never exactly predict which brand will be the season’s bestseller. You also
need to keep a detailed inventory of which items you have ordered before
and keep track of each brand’s profitability. This will help with the
selection process.

Another challenge as a buyer is when the collection is uninspiring, but
you still need to select pieces from it that will suit the store (since we
act as curators for our customers). That can be very frustrating and not
much fun at all, especially when I know there’s a high chance the items
will not sell. Brands can be quite pushy which is understandable because
they need the business.

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Fashion buying and e-commerce with Club Designer’s Hsin
Chen

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Trends: Runway to street, tailoring and sportswear

This year some of the key buying trends from New York Fashion Week
consisted of womenswear designers showing a mix of new and old trends. One
of the most noticeable buyers in the fashion industry, Tiffany Hsu, Buying
Director of Mytheresa, told FashionUnited, “There is a certain ease with
American fashion; it’s not always statement making but rather more runway
to street, which I think is what is most appealing to our customers and
what we see within the trends. A wave of minimalist menswear tailoring is
definitely something I am following at the moment and one to watch,
particularly Monse who master this with sharp silhouettes and layering of
various fabrics.”

Sportswear and athleisure continue to rule the catwalks and the
streets. “Simple,
clean sportswear and tailoring is going to really ring the cash register,”
Nordstrom designer fashion director Jeffrey Kalinsky said to WWD.

The 3 key trends buyers picked up from NYFW

Click here to apply for buyer jobs in the UK on
FashionUnited.

Photos: courtesy of Club Designer, courtesy of Karla Otto and Purple PR



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