Buyers and Designers / Suppliers

Vertical relationships

Vertical relationships

Buyers have different levels of relationships between designers and suppliers throughout their careers.  Some are more formal than others and the degree of commitment may differ.  Relationships that are built depend on two main concepts.

1. The extent of resources and investments that are committed to the relationship.

2. The formality of the relationships, whether it’s long term and franchises or quick spot contract relationships.

There are three main types of vertical relationships (reasons for relationship building).

1. Long term contracts.  These involve series of contracts over a long period of time.

2. Vendor partnerships.

3. Franchising.

Honesty and integrity are extremely important when creating relationships that involve one’s large amounts of money, time, work ethic and representation.

Designing Vertical Relationships


Coutour vs Prêt-à-porter

Couture vs Ready-to-Wear

Couture vs Ready-to-Wear

I’ve been wondering the difference between these two distinctive types of clothing, Couture and Prêt-à-porter (ready-to-wear). I finally came across meaningful definitions from Diana Pemberton-Sikes, EzineArticles expert.

“COUTOUR (koo TOOR) is the French word for “sewing.” Couture clothes are those that are fitted and sewn specifically for a client, often requiring several fittings for an exacting fit. The clothes may be specifically designed for the client, such as a one-of-a-kind wedding dress or a one-of-a-kind red carpet ensemble, or they may be part of a designer’s couture collection, which are the pieces the designer shows that are available for custom fit.”

“READY-TO-WEAR, or prêt-à-porter (prêt a poor TAY) is designer apparel that’s made ready-to-wear in standard sizes and sold through boutiques, better department stores, mail order, and online. While consumers can have pieces tailored to fit after purchase, customization is not included in the cost of ready-to-wear apparel. Many brand-name designers, like Vera Wang and Carolina Herrera, only show ready-to-wear collections, but still create a handful of couture pieces upon request for influential clients.”

When designers are presenting their Ready-to-Wear collections, know that those clothes are being showcased for department stores while their Couture collections are specifically for those who get fitted for their clothing or who order from the designer’s “look book.”

Knowing the difference between these two major categories of fashion really gives me a better understanding of the designers intent for their fashion along with the departments need for their collections.


Buyers negotiating

Buyers negotiating

Negotiating is a skill that all buyers should be exceptional at.  Negotiating prices with suppliers is what buyers go through all year. The buyers and the suppliers need to agree to benefit both sides.  The buyers want to achieve the most for the company while the suppliers want to make their fair share in creating and distributing the product.  Typically, the executives at the manufacturers will be the first to give a ‘cost price’ for a garment, then the buyers will negotiate until both feel satisfied.  However, garments may be dropped from the original plan if either side doesn’t come to an agreement.

“Buyers should be able to estimate from past experience how much the consumer will expect to pay for a particular garment, and therefore can calculate the optimum cost price which they would be prepared to pay.”

Negotiating – Fashion Buying

Getting Prepared

Resume checklist

Resume checklist

There are numerous skills needed to be a fashion buyer; however, here are a few main points that interviewers are looking for in their new hirees.

Essential Skills:

  • Good analytical skills
  • Creativity
  • The ability to recognize future trends
  • Excellent commercial awareness
  • Communication skills
  • Confidence and presentation skills
  • Ability to make decisions under pressure
  • Negotiation skills

Below are very educational websites that will keep you informed on the latest trends, analysis and research.



Knowing and immersing yourself in fashion skills will benefit your interviewing process.  I did not know about these sites so I am definitely going to use these as helpful tools.  Also, having a broader vision of international fashion trends will make you one step ahead of everyone else who hasn’t done their research.

Retail Choice

Fashion Trends

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The blue tank and coral shorts is a summer look that is vibrant and fun.  The grey shirt and jeans is a look that can be for any season; it is comfortable and chic.

It seems as though only buyers and professionals in the fashion industry will know about the upcoming fashion trends.  That’s why they get paid the big bucks when their futuristic ideas become a hit.  The buyers usually know about future trends 6 months prior to the current month.  For instance, if it is Winter, the buyers will focus on the trends for Spring or even Summer.  Although I don’t know trends that will be coming up, Pinterest is an awesome way to learn about seasonal outfits and clothing pieces that are currently trending.

Pinterest – Women’s Fashion– sign in to Pinterest before proceeding.

Retail Fashion Buyer – Interview

Business management

Business management

“You have to really enjoy business management first and product second and understand that in your career, if you really are truly a good merchant, you should be able to buy widgets, gadgets, and designer clothing exactly the same. You should be as good a buyer buying staple guns for the Home Depot as you are buying Couture.”

Retail Fashion Buyer Interview

This quote gives an inside scoop of the profession of a retail fashion buyer.  Gaining information by the buyer seems more useful to me since it’s knowledge from the actual place I’d like to be in one day.

It’s very important to know that knowledge in business management is higher in priority than the knowledge in the products.  It makes me feel more comfortable knowing my Communications degree will definitely be beneficial when negotiating, advertising, targeting audiences, and building relationships.

“Fashion Star”

The host and mentors for the designer contestants on Fashion Star.

The host and mentors for the designer contestants on Fashion Star.

The show “Fashion Star” represents much of my interest in fashion buying.  Seeing what designs and trends the buyers are looking for reflects what products are in Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Express.The show mainly targets fashion designers, but without fashion buyers, the designers wouldn’t be known.  I watch the show in the eyes of the buyers.  It’s interesting what clothing pieces the buyers decide to buy for their stores.  Each piece represents their store’s brand.  Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Express have very distinctive clothing that is known and kept sacred.

The designers need to design pieces that distinguish them from everyone else while finding a brand that would best suit each store and the upcoming season.