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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.

Fashion retailing is a dynamic Industry and the landscape is changing at an ever increasing speed to encompass consumer shifts in spending behaviour, advances in technology and ongoing social change. 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.The Buying department is at the heart of the head office and responsible for ensuring that the right product is in the right place at the right price at the right time.

The course will equip you will all the skills and attributes needed to hit the ground running as an entry level BAA. 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 plan and trade a fashion season often described as Concept to Customer.

During the course you will cover the following;

  • Collaborate with design, garment tech and marketing to construct, cost garments to deliver seasonally commercial product for your consumers.
  • Learn how to create commercial ranges by understanding patterns of consumer behaviour and what makes people buy.
  • Understand how Buyers research fashion trends
  • Learn sourcing requirements for your products and the importance of developing good supplier relationships.
  • Plan, build and manage ranges to meet sales, profit targets to maximise sales and maximise customer satisfaction and how markdown can affect your results.

This course is taught by our team of specialist tutors, all of whom have extensive experience in the industry. As a result, our Level 4 Fashion Buying Diploma course has a reputation among employers for producing high quality graduates who are industry ready. 

We also have access to some amazing Industry resources that will enhance your understanding of how Industry use databases to support decisions. Some of our resources include;

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

Fashion Retail Buying Environment – In this unit, students will explore the buyer & Merchandiser’s role within the fashion industry in a variety of business contexts. Students will understand the dynamics in which the team operates and how to research and analyse key external factors that influence buying decisions, such as changes in fashion design, trend and colour forecasting and customer profiles, to maximise and promote effective business. Students will also explore planning and buying for different types of a fashion business to include physical and digital environments, brand buying, high street, concessions, E-tailers and wholesalers. Students will examine different multi-channel trading methods fashion companies employ and understand the buying & merchandising cycle and calendar in the UK and globally.

Fashion Retail Range Planning and Building – This unit will provide students with the opportunity to integrate their business and creative skills and knowledge in developing commercial ranges of products for an identified business. Students will understand how to interpret business vision and create a strategy to produce a range. Students will also understand how to work with a development team to project manage the design, production, quality, financial and marketing aspects used to build profitable ranges for branded and own brand retailers. Students will also learn how to create visual range plans using a variety of design software.

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.

Past Present Future – 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 6th

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.

If necessary, please contact IELTS prior to booking your test to confirm how they are testing during the current pandemic of COVID-19.

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.

Start Date: 6 September, 2021

Half Term: 25-29 October, 2021

Christmas Holiday: 20 December, 2021 - 7 January, 2022

Half Term: 28 March - 8 April, 2022

Last Day of Term: 24 June, 2022

Apply Now
Meet The Tutor

Meet The Tutor

Debbie Taylor, BA (Hons) Buying & Merchandising Programme Lead

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."