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Fashion Careers: How to Get Into Fashion Buying

By Guest Writer

Updated July 24, 2018 Updated July 24, 2018

Fashion buyer Amy Botham shares some advice for those interested in fashion careers, particularly in the field of fashion buying.

Fashion careers are often highly competitive and difficult to break into, meaning fashion graduates should start planning as early as possible. Here’s my step by step guide to launching a career in fashion buying...

1. Research fashion jobs, trends and industry innovations

Congratulations. If you’re reading this article then you’ve clearly started to do some research. Now you need to do more. No doubt you’ll be familiar with the latest fashion trends (if you’re not – get familiar), but another important aspect of getting informed is making sure you understand the fashion industry itself. How does it work? What kind of fashion jobs are available, and how do they intersect? Who does a fashion buyer work with? What are important innovations in the fashion industry at the moment?

These are the things you need to read up on. It’s also a good idea to identify some of the most influential fashion buyers in the business and try to get an idea of what they expect from a fellow fashion buyer – what skills does the fashion industry expect you to have?

2. Get experience working in the fashion industry

The next step is to try and get some work experience. Search for opportunities or contact retailers directly. You don’t have to get experience specifically in fashion buying (although this would be ideal); any kind of experience working in the fashion industry will help. 

3. Get a fashion degree

If you’re serious about becoming a fashion buyer, then the next step is to take a course in fashion buying or fashion merchandising.  There are plenty of universities and colleges offering relevant courses, but try and hunt out the program which is best matched to what you want to do, and best reputed in the field. The better the fashion degree you graduate from, the better your job prospects will be. 

4. Get more experience working in fashion!

Once you’ve graduated from your fashion degree, or even while you are studying, you should investigate bolstering your CV with further experience. Try to get experience working in fashion at a few different companies, to get a broader idea of the industry, and to give you more to talk about in future job interviews, as well as more useful contacts for the future.

5. Apply for fashion internships

A great way to get straight into the world of fashion buying is by applying for fashion internships.  Of course, these will be extremely competitive – but this shouldn’t stop you from pursuing them (and as many as possible).  At this stage of your career, you need to make job hunting your absolute priority.  Most fashion careers are very competitive at the moment, so you need to be proactive and organized in your approach to applications.

If you’re really serious about getting into fashion buying, you may need to be prepared to move around the country, or even abroad, for the right job. It is important to target your applications, but early in your career you also need to keep an open mind. Even if a position is not quite what you wanted, remember that everyone has to start somewhere and it’s much better to have some kind of relevant job than to stay unemployed.

6. Increase your visibility, online and offline

If you are struggling to find a job (it’s ok – so are lots of people!) a good course of action is to make yourself visible. Contact people in the fashion industry, even if it’s just to ask a question about their role, follow the right people on social media, attend fashion events, start a fashion blog – all of this will help you make contacts and raise your profile. So when the right job comes along, someone might just remember you.

It might be worth getting back in touch with your old tutors from your fashion degree to see if they have any advice. Tutors do get contacted by employers occasionally looking for capable fashion graduates. If you’re in the front of their mind, you have a way better chance of being put forward as a candidate.

7. Be prepared to work your way up

If you’re still getting nowhere while applying for fashion buying jobs, try and go for something else which is relevant within the fashion industry; you may well be able to work your way up to the fashion buying role. 

Amy Botham is a fashion buyer at Continental Textiles in the UK. She completed her fashion buying degree at Manchester Metropolitan University, her favorite fashion designer is Christian Louboutin and her fashion guilty pleasure is a hooded jumper.  

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This article was originally published in October 2013 . It was last updated in July 2018

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