A fashion buyer is a person who chooses what items a store will sell. Buyers can be experts in various areas of fashion although they may very well purchase items across a range of areas from clothing to accessories. Buyers often work closely with brands and fashion designers regarding upcoming collections. Buyers must not only have great fashion sense for the now, but they must also have great analysis and forecasting skills regarding what will be fashionable in the near future. Since purchases will undoubtedly affect store sales, a real keen fashion sense is needed to be a buyer. Fashion buyers working in large scale operations will often only have to make buying decisions regarding a certain area of merchandise such as womenswear, menswear, children’s clothing, or accessories.
The common public perception of the fashion buyer represents Claudia in the shot below. However, most buyers work in corporate offices or travel to distribution and warehouses. Since the process of supplies and working with so many brands is daunting, there is a lot of behind the scenes activity that a fashion buyer must do, in addition to touring fashion shows and tours. In some ways, fashion buyers define the market’s future tastes. In other ways, they are simply accentuating and fulfilling existing demand in a certain market.
Fashion buyers can be particularly powerful in their roles as trend forecasters and in some ways, trendsetters. Buyers who work for high-powered retail store such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, etc. have the ability to impact trends and fashion purchases for a huge and diverse fashion audience.