Bayer is no longer a new, but still a popular and sought-after profession. It’s fashionable to be a buyer. Buyers are at the origins of the emergence and development of trends. If the designer offers his vision of fashion in the season, then the buyer selects the most interesting commercial ideas. It is on buyers that the policy of sales of stores and what, in the end, the buyer will wear depends on. This profession is surrounded by a magical fleur, often associated with a lack of understanding of what exactly is the work of a buyer.
Who is a buyer?
Buyer is one of the most exciting professions in the fashion industry. Some Russian companies also use the literal translation "buyer", but, in our opinion, this somehow immediately reduces the degree of "fashionableness" of this profession.
What does a buyer do?
What should a buyer know?
What can a buyer do?
Bayer. Myths and reality.
There are a lot of myths about buyers.
Myth # 1: Bayer is such a demigod, dressed in the latest fashion, he jumps from plane to plane from Milan to Paris, from Paris to London, sits at shows, drinks champagne at celebrity parties and occasionally runs into showrooms to order a collection.
Reality: In the purchasing season, this is an 10-12-hour daily work, a string of meetings and negotiations, often without lunch, it's good if you throw a sandwich on the run. A lot of time “on my feet”: when on the 4 day of walking around the exhibition I simply could not get up in the morning with fatigue, all myths and legends were blown away by the wind. There have been such business trips where you spend at least eight meetings every day, watch several thousand samples at shoe exhibitions, and by the end of the day all the collections seem to be the same, and you don’t already understand what is happening. At this moment, the main thing is to pack up and not lose focus, because the assortment and sales of the store depend on the choice of the buyer.
But I will be honest: part of the myth is not a myth at all. Regular trips abroad to exhibitions; new acquaintances with colleagues from the fashion industry, the choice of collections that will be worn in a year - all this captures and gives a huge experience!
Myth No. 2: Good taste, love of fashion and knowledge of fashion trends = good buyer. With this myth, the author of these lines, as well as with the first myth, had to part with time.
Reality: Yes, it is very important, but not enough for a real specialist. Purchasing is the result of accurate calculations. Without knowledge of economics, friendship with tables and statistics, it is better not to go to buyers.
Myth No. 3: Guided by the rule: "I like it, so customers will like it."
Reality: Throw out this rule! Purchasing "on the senses" will lead to collapse, relying on accurate data - to success. The choice of a buyer should always be deployed to the buyer: each model, brand, color, material.
You should always imagine who will wear it and how, whether it will be convenient to ride in a car or a bus, whether it is easy to look after it, where to put it on - to work and / or to the exit, how comfortable it is to be in this room. You know more - you sell more!
Bayer. To be born or to learn?
On business trips, buyers met at different times with a tremendously developed commercial sense, a sense of hits and trends for two seasons ahead. They had a lot of experience in retail, which could explain such superpowers, but the rest of the team had similar experience and ... a more modest gift to see through time. At the same time, both of them were effective.
My opinion: buying can be learned. Knowledge of trends, a product, the ability to analyze sales statistics, an understanding of the needs of the target audience of a store or brand - these skills are not difficult to acquire. Commercial flair can be developed through experience, primarily in sales and customer service. What should be in the blood and what is unlikely to learn - love for fashion, beautiful things, passion for business, interest in finding new names and brands.
There is still an opinion that good taste is important for a buyer (with which I absolutely agree), and that this taste can only be innate. Here I bet. The main thing is not taste, but the ability to think and the desire for development. Good taste is the ability to see and create harmony, it is just a skill, and it trains. Through “watchfulness”, development, broadening of horizons. Through the search for a new one, its analysis and adaptation, and not a blind rejection - “This is not the point for me.” Through the study of other people's rules and the creation of their own. Therefore, the recipe for good taste is the ability to think, the desire to learn, analyze and draw conclusions.
So, knowledge gained, taste developed, what next?
All your knowledge - acquired and innate - needs to be tested “in the fields” - on business trips, and better abroad than in Russia. Experience is critical! At first you need to be prepared for mistakes, but it's a matter of time. I remember well my first independent selection after two seasons of work “under the wing” of my manager: the two of us arrived at an Italian factory of dance and sportswear and footwear, entered the showroom and I heard: “Now, take your pick!” - it was both responsible, and scary, and joyful at the same time. My choice was then corrected by 30%, but when the store started selling the first "my" collection - it more than covered all my worries about buying!
How to become a buyer: seven steps to the goal
The main thing is to want and act, no matter how beaten it sounds. Be open to opportunities and take the initiative. These steps will help you on your way to the goal:
Study the labor market, trends and directions of development of the fashion industry. It is not enough to know what colors and models are in fashion, you need to understand what this fashion world is in general: how it works, what specialists are in demand, what are the current innovations in the industry. It is useful to identify the most influential buyers in the industry and understand how they see a new buyer, what skills you need. Listen to experienced colleagues, each of them started at some time.
Get experience in the fashion industry and not necessarily in procurement, any experience will be useful. Buyer's work is not only viewing new collections, but also responsibility for the entire path of the goods from the supplier to the storefront. This is building relationships with the manufacturer, obtaining favorable conditions, the correct positioning of the collection in the store.
Get an education in the field of fashion, any option available to you: courses or degree.
Work in the fashion industry ideally in several companies in order to have a wider understanding of the industry, build contacts and connections.
Take an internship in a fashion company, interns and trainees are always welcome. It is standard practice - there are more interns in foreign brands than regular staff. Plus it's a great line on a resume. Many offline and online stores, glossy magazines are ready to take on the training of an intern. In recent years, I have very rarely heard from my colleagues that their staff was 100% staffed, and they would not be looking for young people eager to work. The question of personnel in the fashion industry is always acute.
Get out of the dusk! Increase your presence in online and offline formats: subscribe to useful people in social networks, attend exhibitions and shows, start a fashion blog - all this will help to build a network of contacts and increase your chances, you will be remembered when the right vacancy appears.
Get ready to make your way to your dream. Even if you haven’t found a job in procurement now, choose another vacancy in the fashion industry, adjacent to buying, this is a sure step towards the goal.
Where to learn to buy?
10 years ago, opportunities to study a profession at a serious level were limited. Now everything is much simpler. In Russia, these are, first of all, the Fashion Consulting Group programs, both within the framework of a thorough long-term study based on the HSE program “Management in the Fashion Industry”, as well as individual seminars and master classes on buying and assortment management.
I also note the programs of Western specialized institutions that provide education in the fashion industry, primarily UAL: University of the Arts London. There you can remotely undergo training on various modules dedicated to buying.
True, in English, but for a buyer, knowledge of a foreign language is one of the important and required skills.
Training is useful, but it’s important to understand that learning through lectures on how procurement is done is virtually unrealistic. Basic knowledge is easy to acquire, but it is very difficult to apply it without experience. This is a profession in which there are no strict rules, but all the risks that a buyer is taking must be justified, and professionalism comes with experience.
And the last thing. Throughout all your work in the fashion industry, but especially when you are just starting your buying career and do not yet understand how to approach the choice of collections, it is very important to be inquisitive, to look, to delve into, to remember. Visit museums, pay attention to art history, read magazines, study the properties of materials, travel - surround yourself with beauty! Follow fashion brands, top boutiques and major stores, stylish blogs. Look at the best, remember and be inspired!
This article was published in the 150 issue of the print version of the magazine.
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