How to Become a Fashion Buyer in the US

Victoria Beckham Michael Kors

Fashion stores, from high-end specialty boutiques to general merchandise stores, rely on fashion buyers to stock their racks with quick-selling clothes, jewelry and other fashion items. If you have a good eye for color, and you are highly analytical, this could be the job for you.

What do fashion buyers do?

Their duties include:

  • Analyzing fashion trends to determine the fashion items that are currently on demand
  • Assessing how some items have sold in the past to predict how they might sell in the future
  • Cultivating positive relationships with sales representatives of fashion manufacturers
  • Maintaining contact with retail sales representatives to stay updated on products that are quick-selling
  • Negotiating best prices with these representatives
  • Attending fashion shows, trade fairs and exhibitions to interact with fashion consumers and industry professionals
  • Controlling the budget allocated to fashion buying
  • Maintaining accurate records of purchase documents.

Work environment

Although fashion buyers typically work from 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday, weekend work is quite common. If a delivery is made in the evening, fashion buyers must be present to inspect the items.

The work involves regular travel since fashion buyers must attend fashion shows, meet with manufacturers’ sales reps, and even visit factories where fashion items are produced.


According to Indeed, fashion buyers earn as follows:

Job title

Annual wage

Fashion buyer


Entry requirements

To become a fashion buyer, you need a blend of fashion knowledge and strong business acumen. As such, the best way to get started is to earn an associate or bachelor’s degree in fashion or apparel merchandising.

Some of the colleges offering these credentials include:

  • Southern New Hampshire University, New Hampshire
  • University of Bridgeport, Connecticut
  • Stevenson University, Maryland

You will gain a thorough understanding of consumer behavior and learn how to analyze fashion trends.

It is also possible that you could start as a retail sales representative in a fashion store, and work your way up as you gain more experience.

Important qualities

To be an accomplished fashion buyer, you need:

  • Excellent analytical skills
  • Strong math and budgeting skills
  • Strong decision-making skills
  • A good eye for style and color
  • The ability to stay abreast of trends in the fashion industry
  • Strong business skills
  • Good interpersonal and communication skills
  • The ability to predict future trends
  • Good negotiation skills

Career development

As a newly-qualified fashion buyer, you will certainly secure employment in small retail stores to gain the experience required to move to large stores that have multi-million budgets.

However, if you land a job at a large store immediately after college, you will most likely be hired as an assistant buyer, where you will work under an experienced fashion buyer.

To boost your advancement prospects:

  • Join a professional association, such as the International Textile and Apparel Association and the American Apparel & Footwear Association to network with industry professionals
  • Pursue a graduate degree in fashion merchandising

Job opportunities

The employers of fashion buyers include:

  • High-end specialty boutiques
  • Retail chains
  • Wholesale distributors
  • Department stores

Apart from being hired by large stores, experienced fashion buyers with advanced credentials may become buying managers.

Finally, the fashion industry is characterized by erratic consumer behavior. To reliably predict what clothes, shoes or accessories consumers want to wear, the services of well-trained fashion buyers are becoming even more important. In addition, Forbes reports that clothing stores in the US are very profitable, meaning fashion buyers are effectively utilized.

So, if you want to spend your professional life influencing people’s clothing preferences, you should become a fashion buyer.