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Level 4 Fashion Buying

This one-year Level 4 Fashion Buying Diploma course, taught two days per week has been specially designed for those looking to pursue a career in buying.

It combines theoretical study and hands-on experience teaching you both practical and creative skills. Students will also have the opportunity to complete an invaluable three-week work placement with a recognised high street fashion brand.

The course is designed to thoroughly prepare students for a career in buying. A Buyer is ultimately responsible for deciding which products make it onto the shop floor. They are key to maximising profits and must have a thorough understanding of the brand's target audience. It’s a Buyer’s job to recognise customer demand and at the same time keep a brand contemporary and up-to-date with current trends.

This role is highly collaborative, as buyers are expected to work alongside merchandisers to maximise sales and measure performance, as well as the design teams to develop new products and take them from initial concept through to completion. This role is also responsible for negotiating the best deals with suppliers to boost a brand’s bottom line. Essentially, the function of a Buyer comes down to getting the right products, at the right time, at the right price. 

You’ll be equipped with all of the skills you’ll need to succeed in a Head Office environment. Communication skills are at the foundation of the course, as many buyers work as part of a team and are also required to negotiate with suppliers, share ideas and research with stakeholders. As a Buyer, you'll be involved at many points of the supply chain, so during the course, you'll follow the journey of a garment from trend history and development to creating commercial range plans. Students will learn all about the outside influences which must be taken into account when devising a range of clothing and also gain essential marketing skills.

Additional areas covered include:

  • Supply chain management
  • Garment technology
  • Use of fabrics
  • Costing and sourcing
  • Manufacturing regions
  • Critical path management
  • Merchandising

The Level 4 Fashion Buying Diploma course is an ideal choice for those seeking a creative role that’s exciting and varied. A passion for and knowledge of current trends and the fashion retail industry as a whole is essential, and candidates should be interested in working across a wide range of faculties. A good head for numbers is also useful when working alongside Merchandisers to analyse data and inform strategy.

Find out more about the day in the life of a Buyer here

Fashion Retail Buying Environment – What is the Buyer’s role in the fashion retail industry? This module explores the relationship with the Merchandiser, the dynamics in which a buyer operates and which influences affect buying decisions, such as trend and colour. You’ll examine how to analyse financial data and how buying behaviour varies between different types of fashion businesses, gaining a greater understanding of the buying cycle.

Fashion Retail Range Planning and Building – You’ll learn how to develop a commercial range of products that increases a brand’s profitability. We’ll cover how to interpret business vision and how to work with a development team to manage design, production and quality aspects. You’ll also learn about digital image manipulation, and how you can use this to create visual plans.

Fashion Retail Buying Principles – In this unit, you’ll explore the global market, paying close attention to changes in sourcing fabrics and garments, as well as the global supply chain. In more detail, you’ll look at sourcing agents and suppliers, as well as how to manage cultural differences. The ethical, political and environmental landscape is also a key aspect to consider. We’ll then help you to develop your knowledge of fabrics, garment construction, and pattern.

History and Context for Fashion Retail – Learn how social, historical and cultural influences have impacted fashion, and brought us to where we are today. You’ll discuss a wide range of influential ideas to improve your research, writing and analytical skills.

Individually Negotiated Retail Project – You’ll use the knowledge you gained during the course to implement your own project to a professional standard following a brief set by industry experts. You’ll also learn how to self-evaluate and present your work in a variety of different situations.

Preparation for Progression – In this unit, we will help to identify career opportunities and prepare you for a career in buying, enhancing your teamwork and presentation skills.

A day on the Level 4 Fashion Buying Diploma course day might begin with some research for a new collection. In the morning, students might curate a bigger picture of current trends using forecasting tools such as WGSN. These findings will be used to put together mood boards, which can then inform the development of ranges to suit a number of different customer profiles.

In the afternoon, students might check out the high street stores to write a report on their recommendations for the Head Office team. The day might finish with a masterclass from industry speakers. As part of the course, you'll have the opportunity to attend masterclasses from some of the biggest – and most knowledgeable names in retail, including fashion blogger Chloe Miles, New Look, Zalando and TK Maxx. Pick up insider tips and tricks, and learn about the reality of life in fashion retail.

A three-week placement is an important part of the Level 4 Fashion Buying Diploma course. This opportunity connects students with well-known fashion brands, and is designed to provide real-world experience of what it takes to make it as a Buyer. Placements are also essential for gaining contacts – these will become invaluable when applying for job roles.

Work placements are full-time for 3 weeks, you will be expected to make your own travel arrangements. 

Previous Buying students have worked with River Island to develop a new concept for Chelsea girl and design a 20 piece capsule collection, taking into consideration lead time and costings. They also had to consider how they would promote and launch the collection.

The winning students were offered internships opportunities with RI and in many cases offered permanent positions.

This course is a direct route into industry and can lead to a variety of career paths including Buyer's Administrative Assistant, Merchandiser's Administrative Assistant, Allocators, Buyer’s Clerk, Sourcing & Supply Chain.

Awarding Body: UAL

Qualification Title: Level 4 Diploma in Buying and Range Planning for Fashion Retail

Age Requirement: 18+

Start date: September 7th

Course duration: One year (two days per week)

Entry Criteria: 1 A-level (or the equivalent Level 3 qualification) and 5 GCSEs grade C/4 or above, including Maths and English. If you have any non-UK qualifications, please provide us with a NARIC Statement of Comparability, as well as, the IELTS test for English language (our entry requirement is 5.5 overall and in all sections) if you have not studied in the UK or English speaking country.

Offers: After completing our online form, your application will be processed and you will receive the outcome by post and e-mail within 5-10 working days. If we decide you would benefit from an interview, we will contact you with an invite. Your offer will be based on your predicted grades and is only secure after enrolment.

Fees: If you are 16-18 as of 31st August in the academic year of which your course starts and are a UK resident you will be eligible for full fee remission and do not have to pay any tuition fees.

If you are 19 or over at the start of your course your fees are £4220 per annum. For a full list of course fees please visit our Fees Page. Advanced Learning Loans are available for anyone aged 19 or over. 

Disclaimer on fees: Tuition fees are subject to change - the fees due are effective at enrolment.

Applications are processed in the order they are received and you may be required to attend an interview.


21/10/2019 - 25/10/2019

1 week


23/12/2019 - 10/01/2020

3 weeks


06/04/2020 - 17/04/2020

2 weeks

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Meet The Tutor

Meet The Tutor

Debbie Taylor, L4 Buying & Merchandising Tutor.

Debbie joined Selfridges as a graduate trainee where she spent 2 years working across all levels of head office before finding her true vocation in Fashion Buying. Over a career spanning 20 years she travelled the world in pursuit of new brands and concepts, working with some of the world’s most famous designers and attending the RTW shows. She has worked across Accessories, Ladies Contemporary and Designer and childrenswear. Her specialities are Brand Buying and Trend development. In 2000 she was awarded the Drapers Record Fashion Buyer of the year and in 2015 the FRA Teacher of the Year Award.



Amber Riddleston, Graduated 2017, L4 Buying, BAA at M&Co.


"I graduated from the Level 4 Buying course and I am now working for M&Co as a BAA on Knitwear. I went to M&Co for my work placement in February set up by the FRA, which helped me get the job I have now! I am very grateful for all the contacts I have made through the FRA which has really helped set me up for a future in fashion buying."



Callie Walters, Graduated 2015, works at Topshop.

"The FRA introduced me to a range of exciting opportunities such as work placements, industry projects and competitions linked to high-profile retailers throughout the year. This challenged me to think professionally and offered the chance to work with the companies I aspire to."

Meet the Buying Manager

Meet the Buying Manager

Paul Phipps, Buying Manager, River Island


"Being a Buying Manager is challenging every day yet a truly fantastic and rewarding experience. Leading and inspiring teams to deliver the overall business strategy and ensuring we are consistently exceeding our customers’ product expectations is paramount.


Travelling the world to see new and existing suppliers, reviewing our international stores and understanding new markets is a great part of the role. We live in a international world and understanding the global market is key to personal and business success."