What is a Fashion Buyer? FRA speaks to Ted Baker...
FRA speaks to a Senior Menswear Buyer at Ted Baker.
From the designer’s sketchbook, to the shop floor, a piece of clothing goes through many stages before it gets in to the hands of a consumer. As far as retail goes, no stage is more important than the buying. The success of a retail business depends upon the sales of its products, and only by keeping up to date with the current trends that inform these sales, will it work. A buyer is the one who keeps a business soundly in the loop.
To get an insight in to how a buyer makes these vital business decisions, we spoke to a Senior Menswear Buyer at prestigious British fashion brand Ted Baker.
What makes a good buyer?
Communication is key when you’re a buyer. From negotiations with suppliers, to communicating your ideas and decisions internally, you have to be able to get across your point of view. You need to be assertive to get the best deal for your company with suppliers, which can be challenging. Most importantly though is an attention to detail that is always informed by commercial decisions.
What do you find most challenging in your role?
The main objectives of the role, is to buy the right product for the right time, at the right quality and price. With outerwear, it is always important to be aware of the trends and the weather. When the weather is unusually warm, people will not shop for coats and the second it turns we have to make sure there are enough options to choose from.
What do you find most rewarding?
Seeing a product, you’ve developed in stores become a reality is fantastic. It is always rewarding to see a coat that you worked on from just a drawing and fabric swatches, now on the street keeping someone warm and stylish.
What advice would you give to someone who is interested in becoming a buyer?
One thing you will need is real passion for product and for the industry. I chose to focus on outerwear, because I loved the options. Find an area that you really enjoy and are interested in and make it your expertise.
How do you make your buying decisions?
It’s important to thoroughly understand your customer profile and their shopping habits. Spending time working in store enables you to really listen and engage with the customer and sales team. The proof is in the sales, so looking at what product is selling well is really key when developing a new range or doing ‘the buy’.
Describe a typical day in the office.
The office is fast-paced and extremely varied from day to day. We are working on multiple seasons at a time, trading one, buying another and developing a third. So the day could start with reviewing the bestsellers and figures from the previous week. That helps us when reviewing the upcoming season buys, which we base on previous sales figures. After we’ve made our decisions we then have to present the range to other departments, such as Wholesale, Visual Merchandising, E-commerce and the Press team.
What is the work environment like for employees?
Ted Baker Head Office is a bustling open plan space. It’s always buzzing with creativity and ideas, which makes for a refreshing environment to work in. There are plenty of spaces and meeting areas, for you to go on your own to compose your thoughts or to meet with colleagues. They offer
How do you buy for international markets?
To deliver the optimum international range we have several things to consider that differ from the usual UK retailing. Trends, customers shopping habits and cultures change considerably across regions which we need to be aware of. To ensure we are meeting these customer demands, we have a dedicated international team based in Ted Baker HQ that gathers data from stores and feeds back to teams on product risks, opportunities and general changes to buying habits. That way we’re always up to date on what works and we can adapt to the ever changing market.
How do you keep in line with both trends and the heritage Ted Baker identity?
With trends emerging and evolving so fast, the most effective way I keep abreast is through dedicated fashion sites online. Social media has also become enormously impactful and important to how we work. It’s our job at Ted Baker HQ to ensure new trends filter down and are delivered in a commercial way to our customers while maintaining that Ted Baker handwriting.
What do you have coming up in the new season?
With outerwear, the bomber is really key for us. Coming in a variety of different fabrics, colours and prints. We were feeling for a smarter look, with double breasted pea coats, textured overcoats in herringbone and ombre wool and the must have hooded parkas. We also have a new style leather jacket in a rich tan, which is perfect for any dapper gent.