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24-02-2011
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When people say that you have to have several years of retail experience for becoming a buyer, are they serious? I'm a student at a University in the UkK, but I'm from Sweden so I go back there quite alot. For me , its impossible to have a retail job (unless i dont quit it every 6 months) Does anyone have any advice as how I can get other related work experience- but isn't retail. Or is it acceptable if I do one year work experience as "making up for it"

All help would be appreciated!

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25-02-2011
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I don't really know the answer to that one ... but I would think that would not be necessary....if what you mean by "retail experience" means working on the sales floor.

Yes ... if you are working as a buyer for a small shop, you need to learn what a small shop's needs are, in particular the one that you will be buying for. So working on their sales floor would be of great benefit.

But I would think that for a huge department or chain store ... it's more about tracking sales figures, learning what has sold well to that stores' customers historically. You'd have to be able to translate those historical numbers into knowing what and how much to buy from the current lines ... and should have an instinct about what will be the next big seller. So ... a lot of experience in retail sales, although it might add some insight, would not be that important to being a good buyer ... at least as I understand what a buyer does.

Work experience is valuable ... especially if you get to work directly with a buyer or a manager who makes the buying decisions ... and I would think that it would count for a lot on your CV.

But ... if there is a buyer or a student who is studying buying reading this ... please share. I'm just guessing ... based on what I've read.

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Last edited by BetteT; 25-02-2011 at 02:38 AM.
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25-02-2011
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I'm actually interested in the opinions of people who are studying or have studied Fashion Merchandising or Fashion Buying regarding how useful attending courses/school for Fashion Merchandising/Buying is.

I'm currently working in a department store as a management trainee, and will likely have a chance to move on to becoming a buyer some time within this year or the next. I heard that being a buyer for my company is more of a learn-on-the-job kind of deal, so I've been thinking of taking up a Fashion Merchandising/Buying course at LCF before I move on to that position. Would this be necessary? Are the concepts taught in school easy enough that I could probably learn it myself by reading textbooks?

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25-02-2011
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I work in a shoe shop, and so often I look at things are think what was the buyer thinking, and these things never sell..working on a shop floor you get to see customers get to know the customers likes/dislikes. I feel this is a huge advantage, over a buyer in a head office in an other country.

Although I have just got on a buying course at college hoping to become a buyer my self so guess ill see things from both sides. Hope my many many years of retail experince will help me out though.

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25-02-2011
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there are so many customers and different needs that trust me, working in a store you may get an idea but you don't see the bigger picture. I'm not saying working on the shop floor is useless only that it's not that big advantage if you want to pursue a buying career. What companies look for is experience, yes, but math skills and a good degree mostly. (I worked as a shop assistant for two different stores and this may have helped me at job interviews because people knew I've always had an interest in fashion and things related but I also have a master degree from a top business school in Europe and I guess that's why they called me in the first place.

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Last edited by shoegal87; 25-02-2011 at 02:19 PM.
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01-03-2011
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Thank you everyone for you're answers!!!

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03-03-2011
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Is a merchandising degree super-necessary? I live i NYC and while there are plenty of schools here, I am still kind of 'meh' on the options. Everything comes down to Parsons (ridiculously expensive) or FIT (can be kind of like community college, unless you're a wunderkind)

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03-03-2011
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I"m guessing here, because I don't work as a buyer ... but I would think that a business degree might work too ... which would include courses in marketing and merchandising.

Buying is more about numbers and making a profit more than anything. If you are a buyer, you can work in any industry. It's not limited to fashion .... you can buy auto parts or groceries too ... it's basically the same skill set. You do not have to go to a fashion school to be a fashion buyer.

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05-03-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dauphine View Post
Is a merchandising degree super-necessary? I live i NYC and while there are plenty of schools here, I am still kind of 'meh' on the options. Everything comes down to Parsons (ridiculously expensive) or FIT (can be kind of like community college, unless you're a wunderkind)

I don't think a degree is absolutely necessary to become a buyer, but it can certainly help. In my experience, I've noticed that buyers from Barneys, Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus all have lots of retail experience. But those are big stores.

This is pretty general and varies by region, but I've noticed that the path seems to be something like this:

Work pt on the floor while in college, graduate and go into a store specific management program if there is one (I know Nordstrom has one), become a department manager and then an asst buyer. One usually buys for the department they have selling experience in. For example, if you want to buy designer shoes, do not work in the kids department unless it's just to get your foot (ha ha) in the door. Transfer as soon as you can. I've noticed that often people start off thinking that they want to be buyers and become store managers instead. There is more stability there, as buying can be high stress!

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22-08-2011
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Hi guys, this is my first post on here so be kind :-P

I'm looking for a career change, and I finally feel brave enough to actually go into fashion instead of going in directions to please/impress other people.

I've been looking at a BSc Fashion Buying & Merchandising degree at Manchester Metropolitan University: http://www.mmu.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/courses/4932/

I previously went to uni to study Psychology (I didn't finish, I left because I didn't feel passionately enough about it) so my A-levels aren't really course-relevant. I should mention I don't have the full 280 points either. I contacted the uni and they said I could take an extra A-level OR a BTEC qualification for my grades to be recognised. So here's my question - if I want to apply for 2012 entry to the uni, what'd be the best subject to take in these areas for a buying/merchandising degree? Do you think I could do it in a year? (I need to apply by Christmas this year - but, of course, they could offer me a conditional degree pending qualification results)

They also told me that experience would be favourable, so what kind of experience would you suggest I try and gain? Do any places tend to take on people for unpaid work if it's not for a university placement? If anyone could suggest anywhere, that'd be great.

Any other advice and the area would be greatly appreciated!

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22-08-2011
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Off topic but im going to be applying to mmu for that course as well for sept 12 :-)
Posted via Mobile Device

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22-08-2011
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Welcome to the Fashion Spot, tracijune!

Can't help you with school requirments .. but perhaps someone else her is familiar with Manchester Metropolitan University and their buyer's program.

As far as "experience" goes ... they could be talking about a real job in an office with a buyer ... or they might be talking about "work experience / internships". Generally unpaid internships in the US require that you be in school and are getting school credit for it. But I"m not sure about the UK. Some small companies may take you on as an unpaid intern ... so it never hurts to ask to see if they will consider it.

One suggestion ... you don't have to take a "fashion" buying and merchandising course specifically to get into fashion. A general course would probably work just as well ... numbers are numbers and sale projections are sales projections, no matter what the industry is.

You might also want to ask questions in these other, more specific threads:

London & United Kingdom Schools ... for Fashion

All About Internships and Work Experience Placements #2

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23-08-2011
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BetteT, thank you for the welcome and another thank you for your great advice! I'm going to look at other general buying & merchandising degrees, and contact a few companies throughout this week regarding some unpaid work. Fingers crossed.

snowqueen, perhaps I will see you there!

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04-09-2013
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Does anyone have any updates on their pursuit of a buying career?

This thread has been open a long time and I would absolutely love to know what ended up working/not working for those of you who went after it!

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22-09-2013
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^ second that!

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