Buyers and purchasing agents handle the acquisition of goods for a retail business, and fashion buyers handle these jobs for both retail stores and wholesale suppliers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fashion buyers may perform the following job functions:
— Make recommendations for purchase from various suppliers based on their service and quality
— Visit suppliers to inspect goods and discuss supplies for a business
— Attend trade shows to keep abreast of the latest developments in the industry
— Inspect and analyze price quotes
— Negotiate to get the best price
— Set up delivery and other details with vendors and discuss damaged or unacceptable shipments
— Review contracts and negotiate terms
— Maintain a database of information on vendors, purchases, and other important information
— Research potential new suppliers and make contact with these companies
— Discuss purchases with other staff members
Where Can I Find a Job As A Fashion Buyer?
While most of the jobs in this field will be in the retail sector, there are also wholesale fashion buyers who negotiate purchases directly from those who design or make garments and accessories. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 34 percent of purchasers and buyers in all industries work in manufacturing, while 12 percent work in wholesale. 28 percent of all buyers work in the retail industry.
How Do I Become a Fashion Buyer?
Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that you need only a high school diploma to become a buyer, most students who seek a bachelor’s degree enjoy better job opportunities. Degrees in fashion merchandising are available, but many fashion buyers have a degree in business.
There are certifications available to buyers in all industries, and the fashion industry is no exception. The American Purchasing Society offers two certifications: Certified Purchasing Professional or CPP and Certified Professional Purchasing Manager or CPPM. Applicants must have a combination of three years of education and experience to seek these certifications. The Association for Operations Management offers a certification in supply management known as the Certified Supply Chain Professional or CSCP. These certifications can be added to a buyer’s education to make the applicant more attractive to a wider range of employers.
How Much Can I Make As A Fashion Buyer?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not segregate earnings for fashion buyers from those of other types of purchasing agents. The median income for all types of buyers in 2010 was $58,360. However, purchasing managers had a median income of $95,070, and retail buyers had a median income of $49,650. It is likely that a new fashion buyer will earn a salary on the lower end of the scale, although depending on the retailer for whom the buyer works, the opportunity for advancement and salary increase may be great.
Are There Going to Be Any Job Openings for Fashion Buyers?
Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts only a seven percent growth rate for jobs in retail purchasing, much of this projection is tied to recent economic factors. As the economy improves, the job openings may become more numerous.
Recent graduates in the fashion buying field, as in most areas, will usually not walk into a “dream job” but instead will need to consider employment in less-than-ideal circumstances for a time to gain job experience. You may dream of purchasing for a high-end retail chain or an exclusive boutique, but you might have to order clothes for a discount chain for some time in order to have purchasing experience to put on your resume.
Further, if you are looking for a high-level job in fashion purchasing, you will be somewhat bound by location. New York, Milan and Paris are three cities famous for being the centers of fashion, so many of the important fashion buyer jobs will be located in or around these cities. You may have to be willing to work for very little money at first until you prove your merit; many high-end retailers have a long waiting list of applicants and will often hire them for a “trial period” at a low salary.
You can increase your chances of getting a great job in the fashion buying industry by making yourself more marketable, as well. If you have a chance to perform an internship as part of your studies, be sure that you make as many industry connections as possible and focus on learning skills that will assist you when the time comes to seek a job, such as learning a second language.