Fashion Career Focus: Fashion Buyer

Do you want a career in fashion but not sure in which area to specialise? Each week we will introduce a fashion career role and list the responsibilities and skills required. Here are the typical duties and requirements for a Fashion Buyer…

Job Description 

As a buyer, you must plan and select a range of products to be sold in designated retail outlets. Key factors a buyer must take into consideration include: customer demand, store policy, financial budgets and market trends. To be a successful buyer you must source new merchandise and review existing products to remain competitive. Retail Buyers have to keep up to date with market trends, so that they are able to react to the changes in demand; they usually have close relationships with merchandisers in order to do this. To be a buyer you have to make sure customer needs are being met, this is so that you are able to provide a commercially viable range and maximise profits. Working with design teams, you will help plan and prepare new ranges, as well as give presentations. In what is often a pressured environment, retail buyers must be able to cope with the tasks at hand and the amount of responsibility they are given.

Typical Duties

  • Selecting products
  • Negotiating prices
  • Ensuring goods arrive on time
  • Presenting new ideas to senior management teams
  • Liaising with other departments within the organisation to ensure projects are completed
  • Writing reports
  • Helping to interpret sales forecasts
  • Analysing consumer buying patterns and predicting future trends
  • Training and mentoring junior staff
  • Managing plans for stock levels
  • Reacting to changes in demand
  • Reacting to changes in logistics
  • Seeking merchandise feedback from customers
  • Meeting suppliers and negotiating terms of contract
  • Maintaining relationships with existing suppliers and sourcing new suppliers for future products
  • Participating in promotional activities

Skills and Interests

To be a good buyer, you should:

  • Be able to make hard decisions
  • Have brilliant business, planning and organisational skills
  • Meet targets and work under pressure
  • Have a business-like approach, and use tact and diplomacy when negotiating
  • Be an excellent communicator
  • Show a keen interest in the retail sector
  • Be able to absorb and assess information quickly
  • Have the numerical skills to interpret statistics and make commercial decisions
  • Be a good negotiator
  • Enjoy dealing with people, whether by phone or in person
  • Socially confident
  • Have high levels of stamina
  • Have good creative ability and an eye for detail

Job Requirements

Typically to get into fashion buying, you need a relevant degree, but sometimes a higher national diploma or equivalent is accepted. Many companies ask for specific qualifications such as a degree in fashion design or fashion textiles, but experience in business/management, economics or foreign languages can prove to be particularly useful.  If you can get work experience within buying whilst studying, this will help you a lot when applying for roles.


The larger the company the better the promotional prospects become, although progression will depend on your abilities and qualifications. Some retailers offer graduate management trainee schemes, which help you to progress to buying roles. When you finally get the job, you may be offered the opportunity of gaining professional CIPS qualifications, which are internationally recognised. CIPS Certificates in Purchasing and Supply are for people with few or no qualifications employed in purchasing at a clerical level, or in stores and warehouses. On completion, you may move onto courses leading to CIPS professional stages. Certificates are available at many colleges running the CIPS Graduate Diploma, with most courses part-time and taking one year. There is a possibility you may get the chance to work abroad, and salaries range from £12,500 to £50,000 depending on experience.