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12-03-2008
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Cicciolina's Avatar
 
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Wow thanks for the post clarex. They really pummeled you with questions didn't they! Best of luck with the interview nevertheless, and thank you so much for posting the questions as I'm sure they'll be invaluable to those who are thinking about buying as a career. Karma to you!

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16-03-2008
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This piece might be interesting.
It's a 'Day in the Life' of Colette Garnsey who's the head buyer for apparel, cosmetics and accessories at David Jones (Australian department store - sort of like Saks/Bloomingdales).

http://www.notebookmagazine.com/comm...tail-executive.
Quote:
A Day in the Life - Retail Executive

For thousands of women, shopping is a passionate pastime, but for Colette Garnsey it’s serious business.

When Colette Garnsey left school she began a management cadetship with a major Australian department store. She never imagined that 25 years later she’d be internationally recognised as a key player in the retail world; jetsetting around the globe, meeting with top fashion designers, and making decisions that would change the very core of Australia’s oldest department store. As group general manager of apparel, cosmetics, footwear and accessories for David Jones, that’s exactly what Colette’s life now entails, but for this unassuming, focused woman, it’s just another day at the office.

5.30am: Three times a week, Colette watches the sun rise from her home in Sydney’s Rose Bay as she prepares for an early morning workout. Other days, she’ll treat herself to a sleep-in until at least 5.45am, then have breakfast with her husband Andrew, who works in the financial services industry. “He doesn’t go to the gym, but he likes to get an early start and dawn really is a lovely time of day,” she says. The couple’s 17-year-old son, Tom, concurs and is also usually up, either to study for his HSC or do a bit of exercise. However, his 19-year-old sister, Alice, is not convinced and stays in bed until it’s absolutely time to get up for university. “She seems to have it all timed so she can squeeze every last minute before she rushes out the door,” laughs Colette.

7am: After her workout, Colette showers at the gym and changes into one of the many designer outfits she has purchased during her years in retail. “I must admit that I love fashion and Andrew’s always telling me I have too many clothes, because I can’t bear to throw anything away,” she laughs. “Our attic is full of vintage pieces, but I think my favourite is a beautiful lizard skin handbag my mother-in-law gave me. I know her mother gave it to her, and I’m quite sure one of her aunts gave it to her, so it’s a fourth-generation family heirloom,” she says. “I also have some Valentino pieces that I keep thinking one day my grandchildren will thank me for holding on to.”

7.45am: Colette pops into Bambini Trust Cafe to pick up a takeaway coffee before heading to her office on the top floor of David Jones’ historic Elizabeth Street store. With coffee still in hand, she methodically checks her emails, analyses sales figures and reads any reports or research she needs for the day. “I like to get in early when things are quiet so I can get organised and make sure I have my head around everything,” she says.

8.30am: Colette moves over to the large table in her office for the first of many meetings she’ll conduct today. “That’s what I do,” she laughs, “I meet.” And she’s not exaggerating – Colette holds around 45 meetings each week to discuss anything from marketing directions and sales figures to store refurbishments and fashion launches. Along with CEO Mark McInnes and the management committee, Colette is responsible for the strategic direction of the company in terms of how the stores look, what they stock and how they’re perceived by customers, suppliers, designers, shareholders, board members and the public.

Some years ago, Colette was assigned the task of devising a brand-merchandising strategy that would position David Jones as Australia’s most stylish shopping destination, and she accomplished this with a plan that modernised the 168-year-old company without compromising its spirit of tradition. “There’s a lot of nostalgia associated with David Jones. Some people have come to see the Christmas window displays ever since they were children, and this is where girls bought their first bra or formal dress and where boys came for their first suit, so I wanted to keep those values sacred,” she explains. “But there are other things that can make a department store outdated. There was a time when department stores embraced a private-label strategy, which worked very well for many years, but in the 1990s people became far more aware of individual designer labels and brand names and that’s what they wanted.”

For this reason, Colette decided to update the store’s designer offering, mixing top Australian designers, such as Alannah Hill, Collette Dinnigan, Zimmermann and Sass & Bide, with international labels such as Burberry, Prada, Christian Dior and Fendi. The launch of the 2002 advertising campaign featuring famous Australian fashion designers was the next step in the new direction and the store hasn’t looked back. “The feedback we’ve received has been amazing and sales, particularly in women’s wear, have grown significantly, so we know it’s working,” says Colette.

While Colette says managing the transformation process was the most challenging experience of her career, it has also been the most rewarding. “Everyone was ready for a change and I think that’s why it has been so successful,” she says. “We sensed it was the right thing to do, and we researched what was going on overseas. I’m just grateful we had the support to do it, because people can be afraid of change and it can be a big risk.”

9.45am: The rest of Colette’s morning is filled with other meetings, and she feels her role at most of them is to listen. “You’d have to ask my staff whether I’m a good listener, but I think that’s one of the most important things a manager can do,” she says. “I like to hear what other people have to say, because you never know where a great idea is going to come from.”

When it comes to managing her team of more than 100 staff, Colette tries to be fair, honest and direct, and believes it’s most important to be able to adapt to different situations and personalities. “You have to be able to understand and respect people if you want to get them on board, and you have to have fun along the way,” she smiles.

1pm: Colette manages to squeeze in a bite to eat at her desk and her assistant, Bev, has already picked up her lunch without having to ask what she wants. “I’ve had the same lunch every day since I started working – apart from the 80s when everybody ‘lunched’ – a toasted cheese and tomato sandwich. And, for a bit of excitement, I leave it to Bev to decide what bread to put it on!”

Colette might read a fashion magazine or newspaper at her desk, but she’s more likely to answer emails from overseas contacts. She tries to visit the US, Asia or Europe a couple of times a year to meet with suppliers or look at trends in retail and fashion. While there’s no doubt that overseas jaunts are among the most glamorous parts of her job, Colette says they’re much more work than play. “When I was in my twenties a trip to Melbourne seemed glamorous and, I must admit, going to my first Paris fashion parade was an unforgettable experience. But you’re still there to learn and work and make the right decisions,” she says.

Each trip also takes Colette away from her family, which is tough at times. “I really miss my family, but I’m usually so busy I don’t have time to think about anything but the task at hand,” she says. “I think it’s even harder for Andrew and the kids because they’re all back here going about their normal lives with me missing from the picture.”

2pm: Colette visits the First Floor of the Elizabeth Street store, which underwent a major makeover in April this year following months of research. “The floor hadn’t been updated in more than twenty years, so we wanted to do something special,” she says. Colette’s team travelled around the globe, consulting the biggest names in fashion and gaining inspiration from the world’s most renowned department stores. “We wanted to get it right,” says Colette, as she wanders through the new designer concept areas decorated with custom-made Florence Broadhurst wallpaper, vintage vinyl records and handpainted stencilling. “We consulted each of the designers and brands, so that every section now reflects the aesthetics of the label it represents,” she says.

Since the refurbishment was unveiled, Colette says results have already exceeded expectations. “The feedback from customers has been amazing and the sales have surpassed all our hopes and plans, so we’re thrilled,” she says.

Words: Linda Peatling. Photography: Andrew Lehmann.

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16-03-2008
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i found this interview recently and thought it may be an interesting read for some (more so for the canadian girls but hopefully everyone can gain something from it!) just an fyi holt renfrew is canada's leading luxury retailer. probably are one and only luxury retailer!
Quote:
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 2007
What’s in a Buyer’s Mind?
An Interview with Holt Renfrew Buyer Jason Morikawa

I kept running into Jason Morikawa at various functions and thought you’d learn a lot from him. Jason is the buyer for three separate Holt Renfrew departments called Directional Designers, Designer Eveningwear and the World Design Lab. If you want to learn about a buyer’s job and what a buyer thinks, then read our Q&A.

What's your story? (e.g. What did you do before, and how did you end up here?)
After working in various capacities within the retail world, I began my career at Holt Renfrew as the manager of the World Design Lab. I had always admired the concept and area and was excited to join Canada 's leading luxury retailer. I had only been working for Holt Renfrew for about a year when I was asked to take on more responsibility as the area sales manager of contemporary womenswear and eventually the area sales manager of Designer womenswear.
At the beginning of this year, I noticed that a buyer’s position had opened up in the designer world that I love, with a specific focus on Paris collections and the World Design Lab. I jumped at the opportunity and that is how I ended up in my current role. Holt Renfrew nurtures and grows talent and now every day is like a new learning experience for me.

Please describe your job as a buyer. What do you do in a typical workday?
As a buyer, every day is different, which is one of the things that I love about being a buyer.
A typical work day can include analyzing sellthroughs by color/style/price, focusing on upcoming markets by preparing strategies, market research, communicating with vendors, planning special marketing events for clients, store visits and travel.

What do you do on a buying trip?
Buying trips are a lot of work. A typical buying trip involves attending between 3- 8 appointments in one day(depending on type and size of collections) and working through with a vendor to select merchandise. In some of my bigger collections, that means taking collections that are 150 - 250 styles in size and picking 40 - 50 styles that will hit our floor. The one fabulous thing of buying trips during fashion weeks is the opportunity to go to runway shows. It is amazing the people you see and the energy in the room. It is truly one of the perks of being a buyer.

As a buyer, what grabs your attention?
I look for collections that will fit a niche market in Canada that we have not covered and collections that have a distinct point of view. There are hundreds and thousands of designers out there, and I need to ensure that I am not buying the same thing. I want excitement and something new, but must keep in mind that it needs to make sense for the market that I am buying for.

What is the best way for a new designer to approach you about selling his or her line in your store?
There are a few things that a new designer should keep in mind when approaching a retailer:
  • They should know who their target customer and lifestyle is. The more you know about your customer the better.
  • Five to ten pieces does not make a collection. In a store our size, a small collection will get lost and if a customer can not find you, they can't buy.
  • Only show pieces that you believe in. I recently had a designer come in, and show pieces that you could visibly tell that she did not like herself. When questioning that designer, she fully admitted that she did not like the pieces, and was just showing them because she had them. If you don’t believe in them, no one else will either.
  • Have a business plan. Know what your strategy is and how you plan to grow and distribute your collection.
  • Know the store you are presenting to. I always want to know where a designer sees their collection hanging in our store and who their 'neighbours' would be.
If you have one piece of advice to new designers, what would it be?
It is a challenging world out there, but I do believe if you have talent, you will succeed. Ensure that you keep talking to people in the industry and listen to what they say. Be persistent and never sacrifice quality for quantity.
Finally, be passionate.

Do you have any advice for people who want to be buyers?
Be prepared for a busy lifestyle that involves spending more time in airplanes and airports than in fashion shows. It is a great job, but again if you are not passionate about fashion, then this is definitely not the job for you.

Should they study fashion at school or should they focus on gaining retail experience?
There is no hard rule to becoming a buyer, but in my experience, doing a little of both is an asset. A person that used to work with me in the World Design Lab was able to join the corporate team because they were working in the store while studying fashion.

You sell a lot of Canadian designers. What are your thoughts on the state of Canadian fashion?

I believe there is true talent in Canada and Holt Renfrew has been a long time supporter of Canadian design talent. We do not buy product from Canadian designers just because they are Canadian. We will stock the designers because they have won the position in our assortment through their merit.
http://www.fashionincubator.com/diar...ment.php?b=242


Last edited by chloegirl; 16-03-2008 at 09:52 AM.
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20-03-2008
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Two fab articles, thanks!

Just got back from a week in a buying office, basically acting as assistant and I loveeeed it. Really loved it.

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04-04-2008
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what type of degree do you need to be a buyer?
do you really need to go a to a fashion school, or will a degree from a regular university do?

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05-04-2008
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clarex great to hear from you again! That sounds really interesting, what is it like?

Sweet Jane there's no hard and fast rule about that - some people will like merchandising degrees, others will prefer business degrees as there is a numbers component to it as well, rather than just running around buying things you like for a store Have a look through the rest of the thread to get a better idea

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05-04-2008
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I know you have to be a graduate to get into buying, but would a foundation degree in buying and merchandising be ok??..

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05-04-2008
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^ I doubt it, as a foundation degree is often only one year and much less in depth than a full degree lasting 3/4 years. I suppose it depends largely on what experience you have as well.

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05-04-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cicciolina View Post
clarex great to hear from you again! That sounds really interesting, what is it like?

Sweet Jane there's no hard and fast rule about that - some people will like merchandising degrees, others will prefer business degrees as there is a numbers component to it as well, rather than just running around buying things you like for a store Have a look through the rest of the thread to get a better idea
thanks

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07-04-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cicciolina View Post
clarex great to hear from you again! That sounds really interesting, what is it like?
BUSY! I arrived at about 8.50 every morning to start at 9 and everyone was already there, hard at work - and was still there when I left at 5.30 every day.

It's good fun, and whilst I was only there a week - no two days were the same. I sat in on meetings with the designers, went to fit sessions, met with suppliers etc, all of which I really enjoyed because 9 - 5 sitting behind a desk does not appeal to me! A lot of the time I was filing and sorting samples as they came in and were approved/or not approved, from the basic lab dips right up to the finished garment as it would appear in store. They worked on fairly short lead times so there's constant communication with suppliers. There was also a fair bit of communication with marketing, sending key pieces off to the press office etc. As you would expect there was a lot of work with the merchandising team, and analysing what sold last year etc. It's hard sometimes to get into your target customer's head, and picking things that maybe aren't your style but you know will sell well, or absolutely loving something but knowing the customer just isn't going to get it.

This particular company buys from suppliers, wholesalers and sells own brand clothing, so I'd really like to be in a buying office for a branded retailer - like more of a selector role, choosing from collections, just to see how it's different.

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19-06-2008
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Career Change: How can I become a buyer?
I have recently decided that after 3.5 years of school, I want to change my current decision and become a fashion buyer. I read about the Neiman Marcus development program and would love to be accepted. Of course, I'm assuming it is extremely competitive and unfortunatly, I will have only graduated with a degree in Communication. Currently I have interned at a fashion pr firm, but my grades aren't the best in the world and I need to stand out. Do you have any advice for me?

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19-06-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSeip View Post
I have recently decided that after 3.5 years of school, I want to change my current decision and become a fashion buyer. I read about the Neiman Marcus development program and would love to be accepted. Of course, I'm assuming it is extremely competitive and unfortunatly, I will have only graduated with a degree in Communication. Currently I have interned at a fashion pr firm, but my grades aren't the best in the world and I need to stand out. Do you have any advice for me?
Welcome to tFS! I merged your thread into the existing one about Buyers ... there's a lot of good information already here. And maybe someone can give you some advice to make the change.

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25-06-2008
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Hi everyone,

I am really interested in becoming a buyer myself later on. Could someone tell me where shall I look for fashion buyer intern/work placement in London UK?

Many Thanks.

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28-06-2008
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I loved the articles posted! Thanks guys, they are really informative.

I already graduated from college in 2006 and currently work at a bank in a more corporate accounting role. BUT my degree was in finance with minors in marketing and comm studies and I have an interest in fashion so I have been thinking about switching careers to buying because I think it would be more suited to my interests.

So to the buyers out there, what skills should I work on at my present job to put on my resume? i do deal with databases, Excel, and communicating with clients. I already plan on leaving early next year, so I might as well focus on a skill while I still can, lol

TIA

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01-07-2008
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I've been thinking a lot lately about buyers,market editors, and my career dreams. I know the magazine industry is pretty impossible to get ahead in (especially now that every teenage girl has ambitions of being like Lauren Conrad, etc.), so I feel like buying would be more practical. Let me preface this by saying that I already have connections in buying in Manhattan at a major luxury department store (prefer not to name it), and a well known mid-high range accessories/handbag company.
I've been thinking of studying art history, but I also have an interest in business. Is it imperative to be a business major if I want to go into buying? Also, do most buyers begin right out of college? Or should they have experience between graduation and start of training program, etc.?

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