How to Be a Fashion Buyer

Three Methods:Pursuing Your EducationGetting Hands On ExperienceWorking as a Buyer

Fashion buyers discover the latest trends and stock retail stores with items that are projected to bring in the most revenue and sales. Breaking into the fashion industry is not easy. Having a bachelor’s degree, obtaining an internship, and learning as much as you can about the fashion industry as a whole will make increase your chances.

Method 1
Pursuing Your Education

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    Graduate from high school. You will need at least a high school diploma or a GED to become a fashion buyer. Take business, math, and accounting courses if you can. These skills will help you be a successful buyer.[1]
    • Also engage in any activities that will help you develop your interpersonal skills such as working on group projects, joining a club or organization, volunteering, or becoming involved in student government.[2]
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    Get an undergraduate degree. Get a bachelor’s degree to increase your chances of finding a job. Some larger companies require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree. A degree is also necessary if you would like to move up in the field and become a purchasing manager.[3]
    • A degree in economics, business, or fashion merchandising will prepare you.[4]
    • Many fashion institutes also offer degrees in fashion merchandising.
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    Study the fashion industry. As a fashion buyer, you must stay up-to-date on all of the latest trends and understand what the consumer wants. Read fashion magazines, blogs, and books about the fashion industry. When you go shopping, pay attention to what other people are buying and the styles the store has on display.[5][6]
    • Learn as much as you can about all aspects of the fashion industry. The more knowledge you have about the fashion industry as a whole, the better buyer you will be.

Method 2
Getting Hands On Experience

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    Join a professional organization. The National Retail Federation (NRF) and the American Purchasing Society (APS) are professional organizations for purchasers and buyers of all fields. These organizations offer networking opportunities, career boards, professional development, training and scholarships. They will also help keep you informed about trends in your field.[7][8]
    • You can join these organizations at any point in your career.
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    Become certified through the NRF. The NRF currently offers a Customer Service and Sales Credential, an Advanced Customer Service and Sales Credential, and a Retail Business Credential. It usually takes 40-60 hours to study for your exam. Purchase your training materials through the NSF website. You can also find sample test questions and detailed information about the test. It costs $90 to take the exam.[9]
    • If you have questions about the NRF certifications, you can call 1-844-673-3926 or email
    • You must take the test at an approved Castle Testing Center. The NRF maintains a list of testing centers.[10]
    • The Retail Business Credential will no longer be offered as of 12/31/2016.
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    Get an APS certification. APS offers five different certifications, the Certified Purchasing Professional (CPP), the Certified Professional Purchasing Manager (CPPM), the Certified Green Purchasing Professional (CGPP), the Certified Professional in Distribution and Warehousing (CPDW), and the Certified Professional Purchasing Consultant (CPPC). The CPP is the best choice for a fashion buyer. You must have 3 years of experience or a bachelor’s degree and 2 years of experience to sit for the CPP exam. [11]
    • You must take a 3 week online course called “Preparation for Certified Purchasing Professional Exam” before taking your CPP exam. The course includes an instructor and study and study guide. You will take the exam online at the end of the 3 week course.
    • If you are an APS member, it costs $294 to take the exam. The exam costs $500 for nonmembers.
    • For more information about the AFP certifications, call 1-630-859-0250 or email
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    Obtain an internship. An internship is one of the best ways to get your foot in the door in the fashion business. Internships look good on your resume and allow you to get hands on experience in the industry. Most of these are unpaid internships. Here are some places to find an internship:[12]
    • Fashion intern websites such as and
    • Directly contacting a retailer, department store, or independently owned fashion store and asking if they have any internships available.
    • Visit the career center at your school and talk to your professors.
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    Develop a resume. Create a resume and include fashion industry keywords such as market strategies, consumer assistance, market planning, menswear, women’s wear, and athletic apparel/footwear. Use these phrases to describe your work experience. If you worked at an athletic shoe store and helped customers, you would use the phrases “athletic apparel/footwear” and “consumer assistance” to describe your job responsibilities.[13][14]
    • When you use keywords in your resume, your resume is more likely to make it through the electronic screening process that many companies use.
    • Also include any computer programs that you have experience with. Buyers often use Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Word.[15]
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    Apply for entry-level positions. Find an entry level position as a retail salesperson, junior buyer, assistant buyer, or any other position in the retail or fashion field. If you were able to get an internship, the company may hire you as an employee once your internship is complete. If you do not get a job through an internship, you will usually apply for these jobs online.
    • You can find jobs on large job search engines, professional organization websites, and company websites.
    • Your school’s career center and faculty are also good resources for finding jobs.
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    Prepare for your interview. Understand the company’s typical customer and the price points (the retail price of a product). You should also research the company’s competitors, latest products, and how they fit into the larger fashion world. Because buyers need strong analytical skills, you may have to do a math test as part of your interview process.[16]
    • If you have very strong analytical skills make sure your prospective employer is aware. This may set you apart from other candidates.
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    Dress the part. An interview outfit in the fashion industry is different than interviewing for a corporate job. You should look professional and neat, but you should also show off your personal style. Your favorite outfit that makes you feel confident and look like yourself is a good choice.[17]
    • You can accessorize and play with color for your interview out. Denim is also acceptable.
    • Avoid wearing a suit or leggings.

Method 3
Working as a Buyer

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    Develop negotiation skills. You will have to negotiate prices with the wholesalers and manufacturers that you meet with. Contract negotiation will also be a big part of your job. Your company’s profits and success will depend on the products you purchase and the deals you make.[18]
    • If you work for a smaller company, you may be responsible for purchasing all of the inventory. If you work for a larger company, you may specialize in one type of clothing such as children’s clothing or menswear.
    • Your goal is to decrease the costs and maximize the sales.
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    Be organized. You will wear many hats as a buyer. You will need to keep track of prices, purchases, customer preferences, product performance, and market trends. You may also collaborate with other staff members such as designers, the marketing team, visual merchandising. Good organizational skills are necessary to be successful.
    • You will need tomanage your time wisely and meet deadlines.
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    Be willing to work long hours. People tend to shop a lot over the holidays. As a result, this will be a busy time for you as a buyer. You may have to work longer hours or be unable to take vacations during this time. Buyers usually have standard office hours, but may have to work late or attend evening events.[19][20]
    • You will travel to meet with wholesalers, manufacturers, and attend trade and fashion shows. If you work for a large retailer, you may have to do some international travel.
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    Buy clothes in advance. You will be buying clothes about 6 months before people actually wear them. For example, in the Spring, you will be buying clothes for the fall and winter seasons. During the buying season, you will be traveling to fashion shows, trade shows, and making appointments with the clothing manufacturers and designers.[21]
    • You will probably work longer hours during the buying season.
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    Present your buying choices. Once you have scoped out the latest trends, you will put together a look book for your employer. The book should display the fashions and upcoming trends, the cost of the clothing, the projected sales, and the budget. Not only do you need to prepare a creative and beautiful presentation of the clothing, you need to explain how the clothing choices create a profit for your company.[22]
    • The exact format and presentation will vary depending on your company.
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    Choose a mix of trendy and classic clothes. You must find the right mix of trendy, fashion forward clothing and classic items (e.g. jeans, white button down shirts). Know the target audience of your store and look at the previous sales numbers and trends. You want to find the best mix of clothing that you know will sell.[23]
    • You may have to go back and forth and do some convincing if you feel very strongly about a particular item.
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    Monitor your purchases. Once you decide on the clothes you buy, you must monitor the sales and profits of the items. Look for the items that sell well and the items that do not. You will probably have to make adjustments based on the sales data.[24]
    • For example, if you notice that a particular coat is selling quickly, order more so that you can always keep it in stock. If an item is not selling well, you may not order any more once they are sold out.


  • Any retail experience you have will also be beneficial. Apply for positions at department stores if you are looking for a part-time job while working toward your education.

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Categories: Fashion