At just 25 years old Amy has landed her dream job, working as a fashion buying assistant for one of the biggest fashion brands on the high street. At GGF we wanted to find out what the role of a buyer actually is and get a sneak peek into the working world of fashion!
We’re really excited to find out more about your job, so thank you so much for speaking to us! First things first, did you always know that you wanted to work in fashion?
No, I actually wanted to be a teacher but my mum and dad pushed me more towards studying law, and so because I loved fashion, I looked into fashion law. When I was around the age of 14 I discovered what the job of a fashion buyer was and decided I wanted to do that. I’ve never changed my mind since! I’ve always been both mathematical and creative, with a great intuition for what people like. So a buyer was the perfect combination of all those things!
Ah wow yeah that definitely sounds like the job is perfect for you! Working for one of the most popular brands, is it everything you always thought it would be?
Yes and no. I’ve worked for smaller brands in the past but I definitely knew I would be more suited to big high street brands and their way of doing things. I was surprised by the community environment and level of friendships, it’s like you find your tribe. It can be a bit mental in that everything you do is “life and death” and everything is classed as urgent! I was not expecting that. It’s also funny to see how people can so easily lose the perspective that it’s only clothes at the end of the day, but I was also surprised at how easily it was to then become one of ‘those’ people.
Yeah, it’s surprisingly easy to get sucked in to whatever environment we are in! So what actually is the role of a buyer?
So, a buyer looks at what sells well, the catwalks and street style. And then they look at their customer and think about what they will want to wear in 6 months time and begin predicting what people will buy. You would then work with the product designers so that they can create what you think will sell, and then a merchandiser will decide the quantities you should order of each product.
It’s also the responsibility of the buyer to negotiate the overall cost of production and delivery from suppliers, in order to get the best profit for the company. I’m actually a buying assistant at the moment and am in the process of working my way up to progress to becoming a buyer, which on average takes around 6 years.
That sounds so cool, and also like a lot of hard work! What is it you find most challenging about your role?
Um I think it’s the repetitiveness of the fashion cycle. Sometimes there’s a lack of innovation, you have the same seasons again and again, and you see the same problems arise which then lead to the same discussions. Trying to always find the freshness in each season can be quite a task! To put it in better words: “Florals? For spring? Groundbreaking.”
Haha, we love that quote from The Devil Wears Prada film! So apart from the hard stuff, what’s the best bit about your job?
I absolutely love the feeling of getting it right! I love coming up with an idea and then seeing it sell really well. It’s such an incredible feeling of achievement and satisfaction. I also love the mathematical side of trying to make the trends work for my customer, and I love how it’s very team orientated. There’s no big heroes in buying, you understand how essential it is to work as a team and everyone appreciates the importance of each other’s roles and how the way we work effects each other.
Yeah it definitely must be amazing knowing that people are wearing your ideas! Being in an environment that is focused on what women wear every day, do you find yourself getting carried away with it all?
It’s quite hard not to get affected by it. Last year I actually left the industry to spend a year voluntarily working for my church, and that entire year I didn’t buy anything. Partly because I wasn’t getting paid, but also it was easier to not be as bothered when you’re not surrounded by the latest trends every day.
But as soon as you’re back in the fashion world your clothes instantly feel redundant. You’re constantly looking ahead of fashion, so by the time the latest products you’re working on are ready to sell you’re bored of them because by that point they don’t feel new to you anymore. So you’re constantly in this cycle of wanting the next thing. It helps thatI get samples at a cheap rate so it’s not much of a cost to me, and I think that if I had to spend all my money on it I probably wouldn’t be as bothered.
Yeah gosh that would be quite hard not to want it all when it’s front of you 24/7! For anyone whose interested in pursuing a career in the business side of fashion, what advice would you give them?
Hmm that’s a good one! I would say as well as getting a degree you need some life experience. The uni course probably gives you as much knowledge as book knowledge. Specifically when it comes to buying, a lot of the time you need a good instinct and the confidence to go with your gut. But you have to balance it with the book-smart side of things.
Knowing who you are is key, because you need confidence in yourself and your opinion. There will be times when you have to fight for people to listen to your opinion and you need to be able to justify the decisions you’re making. Sometimes the weirdest item, that other people would normally say is a bad idea, can actually sell really well, and in those circumstances it’s the gut instinct of the buyer trusting their instincts that has made that happen.
That’s really useful advice! Before you go, one last question… Who is your favourite designer and why?
Ahhh I’ve got so many! But if I had to pick one it would be Victoria Beckham. I love her style, the way it’s minimal and classic, focusing more on the cut, drape and pattern and I like that sort of sophisticated minimal look. She’s the sort of designer who, if I could afford to, I would actually wear the clothes she makes. But on the flip side of that, my favourite designers in terms of art, I would say are Sarah Burton, Karl Lagerfeld and Ellie Saab. I really appreciate the ingenuity and creative mind behind the designs. They push the boundaries of fashion, whilst still creating garments that are focused on the appreciation of women’s physique.
Thanks so much for chatting with us Amy, that’s definitely given us some insight into the fashion industry!
We would love to find out who our reader’s favourite fashion designers are so let us know in the comments section below!