Fashion Buyer

Fashion is a trend that comes and goes and good fashion buyers are able to predict or force the next trend or fashion.   To do this, fashion buyers need to be artistic, fashion-conscious, imaginative, creative, have excellent business sense, be self-assured, perceptive and possess sound judgement.

A fashion buyer is responsible for selecting merchandise, planning the long-term buying strategy and negotiating contractual terms with suppliers. Mistakes can cost a company a great deal of money if the purchased goods remain on the shelves because no one wants to buy them or they are out-of-date. Prediction about sizes and colours are also often vital so fashion buyers need to have a very good idea of what the local market needs and wants.

Fashion buyers interpret the trends of seasonal fashion by being in constant contact with the market. The selection of styles is done to conform with planned assortment requirements, unit and size breakdown requirements, quality and finish. Fashion buyers must understand the market and contribute to the overall buying strategy in financial, styling and distribution terms. They contribute to merchandise distribution plans and assist in budget formulation.

The working conditions are usually hectic as time is very often essential when planning a new sales strategy and delivery deadlines have to be met but it is an exciting career for an enterprising person. Fashion buyers usually work in friendly office environments and they can travel a lot to attend fashion shows and to keep abreast of new trends. Successful buyers are in great demand by the clothing industry.

Personal Requirements

  • creative and imaginative
  • perceptive and objective
  • interest in fashion and the market
  • negotiating skills and sound judgement
  • prepared to take risks
  • self-assured, persuasive
  • planning and organisational abilities
  • physical and mental stamina
  • show good taste
  • good business sense

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

  • National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course
  • National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course
Each institution has its own entry requirements.

What to Study

Degree: suitable degrees - BCom, BBusSc, BAdmin or BA. Subjects such as Business, Marketing.
Clothing Management - UJ, CPUT.

Diploma : Fashion, Marketing, Business Management - all universities of technology and TVET (Technical Vocational Education and Training) Colleges.
Many private, technical and correspondence colleges offer appropriate courses., e.g. Fashion Merchandising at Intec

Experience and knowledge are gained through in-service training.


  • department stores
  • retail firms
  • self-employment, with the necessary experience and capital, can start own business, for example a boutique

Further Information

The various universities and universities of technology mentioned above.

Any head office of larger commercial undertakings selling clothing.

Getting Started

  • try to obtain part-time or vacation work in a clothing retail shop
  • make an appointment to speak to a fashion buyer in a clothing chain store about this type of career.

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

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