What is a Fashion Buyer?

If you’ve always been interested in fashion and are thinking of pursuing a career in the fashion industry, you may be wondering what type of role would be a good fit for you. For example, if you’re more passionate about the business side of fashion more than the design side, then a fashion buyer or planner role might exactly what you’re looking for.

What is a fashion buyer? We recently sat down with MILLY Buyer Chrissy Allen to find out.

What is a buyer?

A fashion buyer is someone who makes purchasing decisions for a clothing retailer. And according to Chrissy, it’s a role that requires both an analytical mind and a keen eye for style. Describing her role, Chrissy explains that she “picks pieces for the season based on past sales history and upcoming trends,” always making sure that she’s aware of what has sold well in the past and is likely to do well in the future. In order to do this, she attends fashion shows every season and meets with designers to find out more about the exact styles they’re working on. This helps her get a sense of the market and make informed purchasing decisions that will appeal to MILLY’s customers.

Do all clothing retailers have buyers?

“Big retailers like Saks and Bloomingdale’s have buyers and planners because they’re working with third-party vendors,” Chrissy explains. For smaller companies like MILLY (which is itself a third-party vendor), in-house buyers are usually only hired if the company has its own stores. And, as Chrissy explains, the challenge of working for a small retailer is different from that of working for a larger one. “I have to understand why we are different and make sure that we are catering to our specific customer,” Chrissy says.

Is being a buyer a cross-functional role?

From researching fashion trends to attending fashion shows and meeting with designers, being a buyer can sound like a one-person show. However, it’s actually a much more cross-functional role than it might appear to be. For big retailers like Saks or Bloomingdale’s, buyers are usually part of the merchandising team but for smaller companies like MILLY, they fall under marketing. “I work super closely with our marketing team, constantly collaborating on email blasts and social media content to make sure that we are pushing what isn’t selling so well but also highlighting some of our bestsellers,” Chrissy explains.

The best part of working in a cross-functional position? For Chrissy, it’s figuring out the unique selling point of the brand and helping to communicate that message directly to customers. “What can we offer the customer that nobody else can offer them?” That’s the question she always has in her mind as she makes purchasing decisions and the one she helps the marketing team communicate on a daily basis.

What are some of the perks of working in fashion?

If you think that working in fashion means having access to lots of free clothes, it turns out that you’re partly right. “The discounts are pretty good,” Chrissy says, joking that it’s very tempting to take advantage of them. In addition to discounts, buyers can also borrow clothes from the company’s closet, testing out new styles before they officially go on sale.

Being a fashion buyer is one of several great career paths in the fashion industry. In addition to offering you the opportunity to stay on top of the latest trends and meet some of the hottest designers around, this role also offers you the opportunity to understand the business side of fashion and to play a part in bringing looks from the runway to the consumer. If that sounds like an exciting opportunity, then becoming a fashion buyer might just be right for you.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as  Top 5 Interview Questions for Fashion Buyers and find answers to common interview questions such as Why Do You Want to Work Here?

How to Become a Fashion Buyer

If you’re passionate about fashion but more interested in the business side than the design side, then chances are you’ve already started researching different merchandising roles and wondering whether becoming a fashion buyer might be right for you. To find out what the role entails, and how college students and recent grads can break into the industry, we sat down with MILLY Fashion Buyer Chrissy Allen to find out her top tips on getting your foot in the door.

What exactly is a fashion buyer?

According to Chrissy, a fashion buyer is a person who makes purchasing decisions for a clothing retailer. “A buyer is someone who goes to market,” she explains. What does that actually mean? In short, it means that buyers handpick the styles that end up in clothing stores. “I go through and pick the pieces for the season based on past sales history and upcoming trends,” she says. The best part of the role: being able to showcase the unique aspects of the brand you work for and demonstrate how you’re making a difference to consumers.

What kind of skills do you need in order to be a fashion buyer?

Although many people think that being a buyer means spending time in the company’s fashion closet, the position actually requires a lot of analytical skills and business savvy. “I am in Excel a lot which isn’t always what people think about when they think of a buyer,” Chrissy explains. “It’s about looking at our sales, looking at what worked in past seasons, what didn’t work and also taking into consideration designers’ vision for how they see the upcoming season.” In order to analyze sales numbers and quantify trends, buyers need to be analytical and able to think on their feet. For example, if they a specific trend that they select is not selling well, they have to be able to adjust their strategy mid-season while also trying to find ways to boost sales.

How can college students and recent grads break into the fashion industry?

“Internships are the most important thing,” Chrissy says. In fact, they’re far more important than your college major. “I was a political science major so I had absolutely no fashion education, but I knew that I wanted to be in fashion from a young age,” she explains. The key was finding an internship that would get her there. And that’s exactly what she did. After her freshman year of college, Chrissy found an internship on the men’s wholesale team at Theory and it was exactly the foot in the door she needed. “I was like a sponge, soaking up everything everybody said in a meeting, and that’s how I knew that this was what I wanted to do.” In addition to taking on one multiple internships, Chrissy also emphasizes that it’s important to maintain the contacts you make. “Maintaining those contacts is so important because the fashion world is tiny and everybody knows each other and can connect you in some way,” she explains, emphasizing the importance of building your professional network while you’re still in school.

What should you wear to an interview for a fashion buyer position?

When interviewing for a position in the fashion industry, “you really want to cater to that audience,” Chrissy explains. For a brand like MILLY, which is contemporary and fun, it’s important to wear something that shows your personality.“We’re not a finance company so we want to see you shine through but you want to make sure that it’s work appropriate.” For both women and men, this means potentially wearing something from the retailer’s current collection and ensuring that your outfit matches the look and feel of the brand you’re interviewing for.

Pro Tip: If you’re unsure of what to wear to an interview at a fashion brand, be sure to check out the company’s website and social channels, focusing on photos that show the team at work. This will give you a great sense of the company culture and help you pick an appropriate outfit.

Chrissy’s final piece of advice for getting into the fashion industry (or any industry) is this: “Be passionate. Be out there searching for an internship,” she says, emphasizing that your drive and passion will help you stand out from the pack and potentially land a great job at a brand like MILLY.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as How to Write a Resume That Stands Out and find answers to common interview questions such as What Gets You Up in the Morning?

Top 5 Interview Questions for Fashion Buyers

Whether you like high-end designers or pride yourself on being able to spot a great bargain when you see one, if you’re interested in the fashion industry then becoming a buyer might just be for you. We recently sat down with Chrissy Allen, a buyer at MILLY,  to get the inside scoop on the industry and find out her top tips for nailing the interview.

According to Chrissy, here are some of the questions you’re likely to encounter in your interview and what you need to know to answer them effectively.

Why do you love fashion?

This is one of the first questions you’ll come across in your interview and one that you should definitely be prepared to answer. Why do hiring managers ask this? We want to make sure that you don’t just love shopping. We want to hear your passion,” Chrissy explains. In order to impress the interviewer, talk about what draws you to fashion and what you’d like to accomplish while working in the field.

Pro Tip: Get creative! Instead of saying something like, “Because I like to experiment and try new things,” focus on some of the other key attributes of fashion such as the fact that working in fashion requires you to be analytical and understand market trends.

Who are our main competitors?

When interviewers ask this question it’s because they “want to know that you’ve done your research,” Chrissy says. In fact, being able to talk about a brand’s competitors is a great way to show that you know both the industry and the brand.

Pro Tip: When answering this question, be sure to pick competitors that are in the same space as the brand you’re interviewing with. For example, if you were interviewing at MILLY — a brand known for being contemporary, young and feminine — you should name competitors that share those characteristics and are targeting the same customer base. Since department stores tend to group similar brands together, a great way of researching competitors is to visit a department store and see what other clothing brands are grouped together with MILLY.

What three adjectives would you use to describe our company?

This is a fun question and one that gives you a chance to show that you understand the brand and can represent it well to others. “Whether you say something like fun or girly or super modern, we want to know that you know our brand,” Chrissy explains. In order to ensure that you come up with a great answer, spend some time on the company’s website and social channels and take notes on the key phrases the brand uses to describe itself. Then make a list of 3-5 relevant adjectives so that you have a selection of descriptors to choose from during the interview.

How was your experience in our store?

One of the key parts of being a fashion buyer is understanding the customer experience and being able to suggest changes that will help the brand improve. The main things interviewers like Chrissy want to know when they ask this question is, “Do you know who our customer is and have you been to our stores?”

To nail this answer, we recommend visiting at least one (but preferably two) of the company’s stores and taking note of things like layout, customer service and window displays. In your interview, you can talk about how these factors shaped your experience, making sure to end on a positive note.

Pro Tip: To really get a sense of the customer experience, be sure to talk to the sales representatives so that you can highlight things you liked (or didn’t like) about the interaction.

Tell me about a time that you negotiated.

“There’s a lot of negotiation in the fashion world and we want to know that you’re comfortable with that” Chrissy says. This includes negotiating payment terms and rates with distributors and designers and being able to make deals that are beneficial to the company. To answer this question effectively, focus on a previous experience where you negotiated a deal or a contract and be sure to explain both your thought process and the outcome.

Being a fashion buyer is a fantastic opportunity to learn about the retail industry while building your skill set. The key to landing a job as a buyer, especially at a great company like MILLY, is to do your research and show that you know the brand and its customers. This will help you stand out to employers and be at the top of their minds when they’re ready to make an offer.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as 7 Phone Interview Tips That Will Land You a Second Interview and find answers to common interview questions such as Are You Willing to Relocate?

What is a Trend Forecaster?

If you’ve recently read an article about upcoming fashion trends or revolutionary technology products, then you’ve probably already come across the concept of trend forecasting. A popular component of the media and marketing industries, trend forecasting (also known as trend analysis) is designed to identify upcoming trends across a variety of different lifestyle areas such as fashion, technology and culture.

To find out more about trend forecasting and what it’s like to work in the field, we sat down with Sara Radin, a youth culture editor at WGSN, a trend forecasting company.

What does a trend forecaster do?

Although trend forecasting might seem a little bit like magic, it’s actually an analytical process that involves spotting patterns. In order to do this effectively, forecasters use consumer insights to predict what trends are most likely to have an impact on certain demographics. For Sara, who focuses on both fashion and culture trends, this means combining creativity and analysis to spot upcoming trends. Once she has an understanding of what those trends might be, Sara works with clients to develop strategies that will allow them to leverage those insights. “Our clients use us as a resource when they’re designing a fashion collection,” she explains, noting that the information her company provides helps clients optimize their products and develop their marketing strategies.

What are some of the most exciting aspects of a trend forecasting career?

Being on the cutting edge of new trends and technologies is one of the most exciting aspects of starting a career in this field. In fact, it comes with the potential of being an influencer, particularly if you’re an editor like Sara who is creating content that shapes how others see trends. Beyond the ability to shape public opinion and help companies define their consumer strategies, one of the other exciting aspects of this role is the exposure to new places and experiences. “Travel is a really big part of my job,” Sara says. “This year alone, I’ve gone to Montreal and Detroit and now I’m going to San Francisco, London and Miami. I would say that the best part of my job is that I get to have experiences that not only enrich the company but also enrich me.” By traveling to different areas of the country and the world, Sara has developed a great perspective on what’s trending in different places and she’s able to use that perspective when making recommendations to her clients.

What are some of the challenges trend forecasters face?

In our increasingly globalized world, trends come and go with lightning speed and staying ahead of them means that you’ll need to be knowledgeable about different trends and comfortable working in a constantly changing environment. Beyond the challenge of keeping up with the trends themselves, there are also other challenges such as those related to traveling extensively, working closely with a team and maintaining an unbiased and analytical perspective on what’s trending. For Sara, one of the biggest challenges is covering projects that are outside her key areas of interest. “A willingness to take one for the team and cover some things that may not be your passion is probably a big part of any job and I’m still grateful for those opportunities,” she says, emphasizing that those experiences add to her perspective while also making her a valuable asset to the company.

Trend forecasting is a great career option for those who are interested in staying ahead of the curve and passionate about helping others do the same. If you’re thinking about becoming a trend forecaster and want to learn more about the role, consider taking on an internship and getting some hands-on experience of what it’s like to work in this exciting field.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as 6 Things to Do in Your First Week at a New Job and find answers to common interview questions such as What’s Your Dream Job?

How to Become a Trend Forecaster

Few things have had as big of an impact on business in recent years as the concept of trend forecasting. With its ability to analyze fashion, technology and cultural trends, this key area of the media and marketing industries is dedicated to spotting patterns in consumer behavior and leveraging those insights to help brands connect with their audiences. To find out more about the ins and outs of trend forecasting and get advice on how to land a job in the field, we sat down with Sara Radin, a youth culture editor at WGSN, a trend forecasting company.

What is a trend forecaster?

A trend forecaster is responsible for identifying new trends and predicting how those trends will shape a certain industry. Usually based at a trend forecasting agency such as WGSN, trend forecasters are responsible for analyzing consumer data and coming up with recommendations based those insights. They also often travel to different cities across the country and around the world to spot new trends and get a sense of the broader impact of a product or idea.

Equal parts creative and analytical, trend forecasting relies on data analysis to uncover consumer patterns and then synthesizes those findings into reports. For some trend forecasters, like Sara, the reports take the form of articles that her clients can use to adjust their strategies when marketing to specific audiences. “Our clients use our guides as a resource for inspiration and research when designing a fashion collection,” she explains, emphasizing that the information they glean from her content allows clients to make informed decisions about their work.

What skills do you need in order to become a trend forecaster?

Since trend forecasting is both an analytical and a creative process, having a broad skill set is important for anyone interested in working in this field. Some of the most common skills for trend forecasters are:

Analytical skills

Being able to analyze trends is a key part of this role and having strong analytical skills is the best way to ensure that you’re successful in this position.


In addition to strong analytical skills, trend forecasting also requires a sense of creativity. This is because you’ll need to be able to think outside the box when predicting the next big thing.

Knowledge of one or more industries

Since most trend forecasters are focused on multiple industries, being an expert on those industries is an incredibly important part of this role. The best way to get this knowledge is by doing your research on a particular industry and finding out what trends are currently showing up in news coverage and on social media.

Media savvy

Media savviness is a key component of any media or marketing role and it’s especially important when it comes to this field. This is because so many trends are shaped through the use of traditional and social media, so knowing how to spot those patterns in media coverage is a crucial part of staying ahead of the game.

How do you get started in the industry?

Since trend forecasting is a fairly new field, there aren’t really any long-established strategies for getting involved in the industry. However, doing a media or marketing internship can go a long way toward helping you develop some of the key skills required for the role. Beyond that, it’s about the projects and research you pursue on your own. “There are ways to get experience in the role, even if it isn’t part of your major,” says Sara, explaining that they key is to identify your passions and find a way to make marketable. For example, if you’re interested in fashion and have your own fashion blog, you can use your content as a portfolio when applying for a trend forecasting position. This will show employers that you’re already a player in the field and that you’re knowledgeable and passionate about sharing your insights with others.

For those who are interested in staying on top of the latest trends, trend forecasting can be an exciting and challenging career path. If you want to learn more about this role, we recommend taking on an internship and getting some valuable hands-on experience in a trend forecasting role.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as 6 Things to Do in Your First Week at a New Job and find answers to common interview questions such as Are You Willing to Travel?