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How to be an accessories buyer

This week Kara Heward, senior consultant for wholesale, design and technology at recruitment agency CVUK, tells you how to land a job as an accessories buyer.

“To start a career in accessories buying it is important that you have a fashion related degree. The competition is high, so a degree which includes work experience would be beneficial. Either a design or specific product or buying degree would be ideal. If you are looking to specialise in accessories, colleges such as Cordwainers (part of the London College of Fashion) will help to take that first step.

It is important to get at least six months’ work experience within a buying office and many retailers offer internships that help you get your first step on the ladder. You must be passionate about product and have a very commercial outlook in order to succeed in buying. Your first role tends to be a buyers admin assistant, and this will give you great exposure to the buying cycle and help you to understand what skills are needed to become a buyer. From there you will progress to assistant buyer and junior buyer before you are given the chance to become a buyer.

As a buyer you need to be able to multi-task, as you will often be working on developing large ranges and working across different seasons at the same time. You will need to be highly organised, have great negotiation skills, up to date knowledge of trends and most importantly a finely tuned understanding of what the customer wants. The buyer is responsible for the success of the product and ranges and therefore can be a very pressurised role, so you need to have broad shoulders and a real belief in your range.

Employers will look for solid experience in accessories buying with proven success and the ability to create a commercial range. You will also need to have strong people management skills and be able to think strategically, as well as being results driven and ambitious.

You will be expected to travel abroad frequently and this is often seen as a major perk of being a buyer. You will travel to visit your suppliers, for inspirational shopping trips with your design team and also to exhibitions.  

Salaries for this type of position range from £40,000 to £60,000 plus package, depending on the level of experience.”

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