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Guide to the top ten careers in fashion

Part creative genius and part analytical whizz, buyers are in charge of making sure the right product ends up on a retailer’s shop floor.
Written on 11/12/19

The buyer

Part creative genius and part analytical whizz, buyers are in charge of making sure the right product ends up on a retailer’s shop floor. They need to understand exactly what their target customer is looking for, have their finger firmly on the pulse of the hottest trends and have a keen eye for winning product.

This is a role with a number of key responsibilities. A good buyer requires a variety of skills in their toolkit. They will need to be able to research and analyse trends to identify the ones that are most relevant to their customer, work with suppliers, understand sourcing and costing, all while maintaining an innate sense of what makes a good product.

Excellent people skills and the ability to work as part of a wider team is another prerequisite skill for a good buyer. This role engages with different stakeholders from across a business, from designers to merchandisers and senior management.

Buyers will also be working across multiple seasons at any given time, so the ability to balance different priorities and good time management are key.

Changing consumer behaviour is having a dramatic impact on the role of buyers. This job is increasingly fast paced, as product trends come and go at an ever-increasing speed. To keep up, buyers need to be resilient, able to juggle multiple deadlines and have a real business mindset, identifying potential new avenues for growth whenever and however they present themselves.

“The core responsibilities of a buyer are the same as they’ve been since day dot, but buyers now need additional skills to ensure they are relevant to retail today,” explains Harveen Gill, managing director at recruitment consultancy HGA Group. “They need to understand digital, absolutely live and breathe their role and have a holistic understanding of the wider trends shaping the retail market. A good buyer also needs to be able to motivate the team around them.”

Salary:  A junior buyer just starting out in the industry can expect to earn around £23,000, according to data from software company PayScale. This rises to between £70,000 to £90,000 for a head of buying position.


The diversity officer

This is a relatively new role for many retailers, but one that is rapidly becoming more important as businesses wake up to the importance of building a diverse workforce. Chanel and Gucci are among the high-profile fashion brands to have hired their first heads of diversity.

In this strategic role, diversity officers are tasked with promoting equality and reducing discrimination for all minority groups within a workplace. This can include ensuring the business complies with any legislation around equality, supporting employees who have faced issues of discrimination, engaging with volunteers from minority groups and ensuring senior stakeholders are taking the issue of diversity seriously. They will also help businesses meet any self-imposed targets when it comes to creating a more diverse workforce. A diversity officer may also have to run training sessions to support staff and give presentations to large audiences.

A good diversity officer will need to be an expert when it comes to the latest legislation and national initiatives on equality to ensure they are able to offer an organisation expert guidance on any issues. The ability to talk to people from across different levels of a business is particularly key for this role. Diversity officers need to be able to engage everyone from entry-level staff to chief executives to promote diversity. This role needs to be able to influence senior stakeholders to ensure lasting change is created. Passion is also key to encouraging other people in the business to buy into diversity initiatives.

“This person is the eyes and ears of the CEO when it comes putting a diversity strategy in place and shaping initiatives,” explains Yvonne Smyth, group head of diversity and inclusion at recruitment firm Hays. “They are given accountability and ownership of delivering a diversity strategy.”

Salary: The average salary for a diversity manager in the UK is £51,000, according to Glassdoor.