What Is a Fashion Buyer?

Research what it takes to become a fashion buyer. Learn about education requirements, job duties, average salary and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Fashion Design & Merchandising degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Fashion Buyer?

Fashion buyers choose apparel and accessories to be sold in retail stores. A buyer may own their own store or boutique, or work on behalf of a fashion store or department store. They meet with various vendors and designers to look at clothing, shoes, and accessories to decide if they are the right fit for the store. Fashion buyers must be aware of the store's budget, clothing quality and price. They need to be knowledgeable about fashion trends and styles as well. The following chart gives you an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Degree Required Associate or bachelor's degree recommended
Education Field of Study Marketing, fashion merchandising
Key Responsibilities Procure apparel to be sold in retail stores; ensure that clothing and accessories project the store's image; communicate with store managers and suppliers throughout purchasing and delivery process
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 6% for all wholesale and retail buyers*
Average Salary (2015) $78,220 for all wholesale and retail buyers in the apparel industry*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does a Fashion Buyer Do?

Fashion buyers, also called retail buyers, purchasing managers or purchasing agents, select and order the apparel that is sold in retail stores. A fashion buyer maximizes a company's profits by making sure that the products on store shelves appeal to consumers. You could be responsible for finding the clothes and accessories that project a store's desired image to consumers. You could also communicate with suppliers and store managers to make sure the purchasing process goes smoothly. According to the California Occupational Guide, a fashion buyer uses fashion knowledge and quantitative skills to select the right product mix and the right inventory level to maximize profit.

Degree Programs for Aspiring Fashion Buyers

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), students who want to become fashion buyers often earn associate's degrees or bachelor's degrees in fields such as marketing or fashion merchandising. In a marketing degree program, you would learn to market products and develop strategies for targeting customers. You could take courses in business, marketing research, finance and management. Fashion merchandising degree programs consist of courses such as selling strategies, mass merchandising, textiles, retail management, fashion fundamentals and retail buying. You could also learn the essentials of advertising, textiles, apparel products and fashion history.

In addition to offering traditional classroom courses, many schools offering fashion merchandising degree programs offer internship opportunities and study abroad programs. You could intern at a New York City fashion design company or take courses in a setting such as Paris. An internship is a valuable experience that can give you the experience you need to land a job after graduation. Internships also serve as networking opportunities in which students develop professional relationships with those in the fashion industry.

How Do I Prepare?

Many fashion buyers move into this role after working in retail, according to the BLS. You need to understand the products you are buying. Some fashion buyers begin their careers as associate buyers who are responsible for a few products or a small department, according to the California Occupational Guide. After proving yourself, you could be promoted to buyer, senior buyer or even central buyer for an entire store or chain of outlets.

What Are Some Similar Alternative Careers?

There are a number of other fields in which you could pursue a career as a buyer. You may work for a different type of store, like a home goods store or a book store, or work in a different industry like farming. If you decided to pursue a bachelor's degree, you may also be qualified for a job as a purchasing manager. These managers have some of the same duties as buyers, in addition to supervisory duties. To work as a purchasing manager, you'd also need relevant prior experience. If you're good with numbers, you might consider working as a bookkeeping clerk. These professionals keep track of a company's finances and create regular financial reports. These clerks need less education than fashion buyers - some college-level accounting coursework will often suffice, though certificate programs are available.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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