What’s it like working in a fast fashion brand? And how do you take your first steps into the industry? Senior Buyer Karen Dougall from QUIZ Clothing gives us an intriguing insight into life in the industry – as well as giving her own hints for trends in Autumn/Winter 2016.
What is life like as a senior buyer?
Life as a senior buyer with QUIZ is amazing! Every day is different. At the start of the week we read our sales reports religiously to get a feel for what’s hot and what’s not. We look for new colours coming through as well as new styles and fabrics that have reacted well with our customers. As we are a fast fashion brand, we follow our customers lead and react quickly to new information on sales. If we see a specific colour reacting well we develop more in this shade to create a full story for the new season.
What is the best bit about your job?
The best part of my job is working with the design & buying team on developing new & exciting collections. I’m a creative person so really enjoy seeing a range come together from concept to product in store.
How do you decide which items to stock?
We decide what to stock by following catwalk trends, social media, celebrities and youth trends that just pop up. Being a buyer now is more like being a product developer too as we pick fabrics, styles and also negotiate prices & delivery dates for the stock – it’s full-on!
How did you get into buying?
I studied fashion at the Scottish College of textiles now known as Herriot Watt University. I graduated with a first class honours degree in fashion with business. After I graduated I went to work for an importing company based in Glasgow. From there I was promoted to the London office where I worked with buyers from Topshop to Ted Baker. I got a feel for what buyers did and thought that was something I could do too. I was moving back to Scotland so wrote to Scottish retailers with my CV explaining that I wanted to be a buyer. As luck would have it QUIZ was a growing retail company looking for a junior to help out with administration, fitting the clothes and assisting with selection. The buyers took a chance on me and thankfully it paid off. I’ve been with QUIZ for over 15 years and have grown my buying career with the growth and success of the company.
What makes a good buyer?
One of the key points is to build strong relationships with your supply chain and manage the supply chain to ensure you get your product into store on time.
A good buyer has a keen eye for commercial styles and is always hunting for winning lines. You have to be confident & knowledgeable on future trends, colours, fabrics and have a good business mind too. A good buyer is also able to conduct themselves in a professional manner at all times.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a buyer?
My advice would be to study hard at University to gain a fashion-related qualification. After that I would say it’s all about building relationships, studying your customer and always being one step ahead of emerging trends.
Which celebrity influences your style the most?
My personal style is influenced by celebrities like the Kardashians, style icons like Olivia Palemero, and bloggers such as Up Close and Stylish.
What trends do you expect to be big for Autumn/Winter 2016?
The biggest trends coming for AW16 are –
- Velvet: Tops, dresses, boots, shoes, play suits and camisole dresses. If it’s velvet buy it!
- Underwear as clothing: This is a massive trend breaking through at present. The camisole slip dress in satin with lace detail is set to be an AW16 wardrobe essential.
- Embroidery: D&G shows were dominated with opulent floral embroidered creations as well as Gucci. This trend is set to continue in clothing, footwear and accessories.
What’s the one must-have item for Autumn/Winter 2016?
A metallic pleated skirt. This is a huge trend for this season!
What’s your last fashion purchase?
My latest fashion purchase was a pinstripe embroidered shirt from Zara. It’s my new prize possession!