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The Inside Life of a Retail Buyer

As New Yorkers are pulling out their wool sweaters and puffer coats to be prepared for the onset of cooler weather, the fashion world is focused on Spring and Summer of 2013. Buyers are placing their orders for February and March deliveries of shorts, bikinis, and tank tops for us to purchase as winter ends.
I tagged along with a couple of buyers for Seaside Luxe, a management group based in Los Angeles who buy for several resort boutiques worldwide. Here is some feedback I received from the buying department:

Q: What trends are you seeing on the runway that we will see in stores next spring?

A: Bright colors will be sticking around with the addition of lots of white. Sheer is also a huge trend for spring. Several designers used either a sheer underlay or overlay. For example, Stella McCartney wrapped many of her dresses in a sheer white chiffon that hung below the fabric of the dress itself. Also, Shorts that can go to the office are being featured by several designers.

Q: Is it difficult to figure out what people will want to buy six months from now? 

A: We always buy the basics. We make sure we have our little black dress, our little white dress, and other wardrobe staples. Once we find those, we take some fashion risks and buy more trend-driven items such as a peplum dress, a printed trouser, or an animal print. There are those shoppers who like to play it safe and will pick updated version of a basic, and there are fashionista who want what is hot and what they have just seen on the runway. We try to maintain a balance in our stores of both.

Q: What’s the most important thing to keep in mind when you’re in the showrooms?

A: The most important thing to consider is that shoppers come in all heights and all sizes and that it’s important to buy something for every type of body. We have to analyze what has sold well in the past and what items were not as successful. As a buyer, you have to be willing to buy things out of your own comfort zone. I have to buy things that I don’t particularly care for or wouldn’t wear myself because there are a lot of people out there with very different tastes and ideas about how they want to dress.

While it seems very glamorous to be privy to showrooms filled with beautiful models wearing the latest creations, it is evident that a lot of thought and diligence goes into every decision that a buyer makes. 

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