Wednesday, 23 June 2010


Girlies: I sooooo apologise in advance for my 2nd "I want this job" feature, this is going to be an almighty long but jam-packed post about everything you ever wanted to know about Buying! Enjoy!

We all know how fabulous Topshop is, it's the mecca where everyone, from fashionistas, celebs to teens & mums alike go to get their fashion fix without breaking the bank.
One of my oldest gal pals, Jo whom i've known since our days studying for our Fashion Degree has a job to die for! Shoes, lots of beautiful shoes get dumped on her desk, like everyday! Lucky her!
I've also added some additional bits in black - stuff like buying speak really.

Job Title: Shoe Buyer
Where do you work: Topshop Head Office, London

1. What do you actually do?

  • Buy shoes for Topshop (TS), ensuring that we build a great range for our target/potential customers.

2. What's your general working pattern like?
  • MONDAY - Go through the sales pack* and analyse last weeks sales. We generally look at each line and new reaction to see if we need to repeat (buy again)/move on (develop the style) or limit/review anything coming in that isn't working and monitor it's progress.
  • * The sales pack is usually one big fat printed pack with all the styles in store or at the warehouse due for delivery into stores, including style/line numbers, colours bought, quantity (qty) bought, qty sold, how many weeks is left before product sells out according to average weekly sales and quantity bought.
  • TUESDAY-FRIDAY varies depending on whats happening but we generally buy monthly and are constantly reviewing the range and adding in new key styles/colours that we need in quickly.
  • Day to day I tend to be: visiting suppliers to see what they have, in meetings with design working on new developments, trawling the internet and magazines for inspiration, looking at the competition and shopping for new ideas, liaising with merchandisers re: quantity's/dates/price points and ranging, placing orders with suppliers, negotiating prices and dates, visiting TS branches across the country, in range reviews* with management, buyers' meetings looking at the trends and highlighting key items and fit sessions with shoe technologists.
  • As a Buyer it is important to keep building relationships with potential/current suppliers as well as ensuring deliveries come in on time, being aware of all kinds of trends-reacting to them and what the competitors are doing in store - the team will always go Comparative Shopping (Comp. Shop) and produce a report to share with the team.
  • * Range Reviews - working with the merchandising team, a review is compiled of the previous season/or months performance - so the products both best-sellers and worse sellers (Dogs) are analysed and reviewed to understand what the consumer liked and disliked.
3. Which other departments of the company do you work closely with?
  • Designers, Press/marketing, Merchandisers & Store managers
4. What do you love about this job?
  • The buzz when something comes in a flies out and the constant excitement/urgency of finding the next big thing. Also working with people that are so creative, passionate and proud about the product and the brand we work for.
5. Is it as glamorous as it sounds - Buying shoes?
  • No! Its hard work...You have to roll your sleeves up and get involved whether its rifling through 100's of old dusty vintage shoes, shifting boxes and rails of shoes around the office to different meetings, spending all day in a factory or trawling round exhibition halls with thousands of shoe stands - it can be painful if you've woken up at 5am to get a flight then gone straight to a trade show!
6. Where have you travelled with this job?
  • India, LA, Paris, Milan, Brazil, Spain, Portugal, New york....
7. What's not so great about this job?
  • There's a lot of pressure (to constantly have and create newness) and you can't miss a thing so it can be tiring at times if you don't give yourself a break occasionally! There's also a lot of personal preferences and expectations you have to manage so you have to stand by what you think is right for the brand.
  • In addition to this, the hours can be long, especially if you are preparing a presentation/range review (which needs to be agreed and signed off with management), or dealing with everything - last minute emails, deliveries etc before you have to go away on a business trip, the work load can pile up substantially, dealing with a late delivery (and the suppliers).
8. What core responsibilities do you have as a Buyer?
  • To ensure the range is always new and sales are potentialised on key items.
  • To push and seek the next big trend
  • Plan the range with merchandising to ensure we meet our sales plan, target margins and that we offer a balanced range at all times with out going over the budget. Work out initial order quantities/colours to be bought in range planning.
  • Critical Path - plan the key dates for product development, production and delivery.
  • Manage Supply Base (A no. of qualified suppliers my team work with) ensuring we meet our targets in terms of quality control (QC), cost prices
  • Manage Buyers Admin Assistant (BAA) and Assistant Buyer (AB) to ensure orders go on the system, deliveries are managed and on time and the general running of the department
  • Ultimately to make sure our profits are up on the year and our markdown is kept to a minimum!
9. What trade shows do you visit/go to regularly?
10. What skills do you need to be a great buyer?
  • Have the ability to juggle 100 things at once and have your finger on the pulse at all times!
  • It helps if you're quick, efficient, adaptable, enthusiastic, energetic, creative, passionate about the product you're buying, confident in your decisions, a good communicator, fairly good with numbers (analytical & strategical) and good at using your initiative
11. What advice would you give to anyone who wants to become a Fashion Buyer?
  • Apply for a BAA role in a brand/company that you feel suits you and your style/personality. Get work experience or work in retail to get a feel for things.
  • Be passionate about fashion, know your trends, push your ideas forward, aspire to buy those Mui Mui platforms (even if you can't afford them!), experiment with your own style and always think ahead.

Jo & team's Hot Picks
In-store/online now from top left-right:
  • Spiral - Strappy peep toe heel £65
  • Prima- Sling back clogs £80
  • Saffron - Mint strappy heels £70
  • Frances - Stud sandal £35

12. What's the salary range like from a BAA to a Buyer on senior level ?
  • Hard to say, but for the lower end - starting around 16-18k for a BAA to 60k for someone at a more senior level
13. What's the career path like?
  • It takes on average around 5yrs from BAA to become a Buyer if you work hard & are passionate about what you do.
14. How did you find your dream job as a Buyer?
  • By looking in Drapers Record (Fashion Business magazine in UK) and sending my CV. Most brands have a recruitment page on their website so you can go through that.
  • Just because a job isn't advertised (the fashion ones usually aren't by the way), contact an agency (who specialises in fashion) and sign up with them or contact the brand you see yourself working for directly and make sure you have a CV that is up-to date, ready to email/send the future employer. Having gone through loads of CV's myself (believe me, everyone wants your job or a BAA, BA, AB role) everyone usually starts with an introduction about themselves/personal statement. Whilst this is great, I also suggest mentioning what you have done for the love of fashion (be it organising a fashion show to raise money for a charity-you get the idea) in that first opening paragraph about yourself. That is something that usually catches my eye as everyone can be 'passionate', 'enthusiastic' about fashion and read magazines etc but are they really? What have they done to prove it?
15. Any other advice you'd like to share?
  • Try not to lose your cool under pressure and always stand by your decisions. (Believing that a product will be a best-seller even if someone else can't see or share the same vision).
images via Topshop, Gossipless Fashion

Additional info:

Books/reading material:
Mastering Fashion Buying & Merchandising Management by Tim Jackson via Amazon

Agencies in UK:

Missed out on last weeks "I want this Job" feature? Click here for the low-down on Ladieswear Designer, Christine Macaulay.
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