How do I Become a Clothing Buyer?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In order to become a clothing buyer, it is important to have a background in retail, merchandising, or fashion. A clothing buyer's responsibilities will vary widely depending on the stores for which she is purchasing, as well as the type of company that owns the business. A clothing buyer for a small boutique, for example, may be responsible for buying all of the merchandise that the store sells. A clothing buyer for a larger retailer that has many stores, on the other hand, may only be responsible for one section of the merchandise such as sports wear, formal wear, or accessories.

Clothing buyers must be up to date on the latest fashion trends.
Clothing buyers must be up to date on the latest fashion trends.

Many clothing buyers start as as assistants to boutique owners or as assistants to head buyers at larger companies. This is a great way to begin your career if you want to become a clothing buyer. College training in fashion, retail, or merchandising is also very helpful. Many college degrees that will prepare you to become a clothing buyer will include course offerings that cover all of these topics.

A clothing buyer may be hired to help large department stores gather fashionable clothing.
A clothing buyer may be hired to help large department stores gather fashionable clothing.

In addition to completing your training and getting hands-on experience as an assistant, you can also prepare to become a clothing buyer by closely watching trends. Get subscriptions to noteworthy fashion magazines, especially the ones that feature the types of clothing that interest you. if you want to be a buyer for a high-end company, then you will want to read magazines such as Vogue and W. If you are interested in working for a clothing store that caters to teens, then you should watch the trends in magazines such as Seventeen and Teen Vogue. If menswear interests you, read GQ.

A clothing buyer should understand the fashion retail business.
A clothing buyer should understand the fashion retail business.

Another thing that you can do to prepare to become a clothing buyer is to follow all fashion-related news. You may also want to find fashion-related blogs that focus on the type of clothing that most interests you and follow those blogs. Being as informed and knowledgeable as possible will not only prepare you to do your job well, but will also help you to impress potential employers during interviews.

Studying fashion magazines can help clothing buyers learn about popular styles.
Studying fashion magazines can help clothing buyers learn about popular styles.

If you are currently in school, then try to get an internship in some area of the clothing business. Whether you intern for a manufacturer, retailer, or designer, this experience will give you an inside glimpse into your chosen field and will help you to gain contacts to use after graduation. Try to get an internship with a company that specializes in the kinds of clothes that you want to work with.

Clothing buyers include personal shoppers who buy items for wealthy clients.
Clothing buyers include personal shoppers who buy items for wealthy clients.
Clothing buyers help trendy boutiques find the most fashionable items.
Clothing buyers help trendy boutiques find the most fashionable items.
Following all news and trends related to fashion can help in preparation to become a fashion buyer.
Following all news and trends related to fashion can help in preparation to become a fashion buyer.
Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for wiseGEEK, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

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Discussion Comments

bythewell

@croydon - I think that's why the buyer in many small clothing companies is the person who founded the company, or at least heavily supervised by that person.

After all, even though there is a large possibility of error, deciding what clothes to bring into the shop is the fun part of the business and is why many people decide to have a clothing business in the first place.

Of course, many small stores specialize to the point where they aren't making all that many clothes buying decisions. They are either making their own clothes or they are only bringing in a handful of labels for their shoppers.

Still, a small shop is a good place to intern as they might be happy to take you on if you don't work for money.

croydon

@irontoenail - It's not the kind of job you want to go into unprepared. I think it is definitely worth people having an internship and certainly studying the fashion trends as much as possible.

Imagine if you were the buyer for a big store and you ordered too much of the wrong thing.

I know they aren't perfect, of course, the sales racks of clothes that didn't sell in season are proof of that. But, too many big mistakes and you would be fired, I imagine. And so much of it would be left to chance, as the public can be very fickle when it comes to fashion.

Even worse, if you made a bad decision as a clothes buyer for a small company you could seriously hurt their business. Smaller clothes companies are often working on the edge of bankruptcy as it is. Getting the wrong clothes in for a season could send them over the edge.

irontoenail

I had never even heard of a clothing buyer until I read a book as a teenager about a girl who wanted to work in the fashion world.

She took a job in a famous department store and started working as an assistant in the teen clothing department.

I actually think it was probably a little bit unrealistic as to how quickly she ascended the career ladder, but perhaps it was also a sign of the times as this book was written in the 80's I think.

It fascinated me, though, as it had never occurred to me that someone had to decide which clothes were going to be sold in the shop. I had always kind of thought that they just made their own clothes (I know, it was a bit naive).

The idea of being the person who got to look through all the latest clothes and pick them out seemed very glamorous to me.

But, probably not the kind of job I'd want for myself.

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