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Accessories Buyer - Job Description by Apparel Search

Accessories Buyer
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One of the most important qualifications for becoming an accessories buyer is experience either in purchasing or accessories.  It's the old Catch-22 how does one get the experience if you can't get hired without it?  Three or more years either as a junior buyer or doing a buyer's administrative work is a general prerequisite to snagging a senior buyer position in the accessories field.  If you're looking at an accessories buyer position, you are likely to already be an ambitious assistant buyer with at least six months to a year experience.  Many firms prefer that their buyers be graduates in fashion design, although this requirement varies by company, and is often disregarded in lieu of experience.  If you're trying for an accessories buyer position without any experience as an assistant, buyer's admin, or fashion education, people with that experience and skill set are who you are up against. 

Apparel Search isn't looking to discourage you - if you have experience in accessories either in a purchasing or retail environment at all, it could prove helpful.  It is possible that in a position as an accessories buyer, you will find yourself buying accessories for several different departments.  Diversity of experience will help if you are required to purchase for both men's and women's departments, women's and girl's, etc.

The accessories buyer will be responsible for buying a range of accessories and jewelry items.  A passion for fashion is key.  It also helps if you have contacts in accessories manufacturing and sales in India and the Far East, but those relationships can be created if they aren't pre-existing.  (These geographical areas tend to produce attractive accessories that are popular sellers.)

A successful accessories buyer must be a bit of a psychic.  You will be part of strategy meetings in which you will have to think ahead to what consumers will be looking for in the coming season.  You will make pre-season orders of merchandise, and make decisions involving stocking the stores with enough inventory in the right product groups.  Accessories fashions change more quickly than clothing trends.  In other words, accessories buyers really have to be on their toes.  And their necks, and their wrists, and their ears, and their fingers

Successful accessories buyers keep an eye out for what is hot, and what will be. They are as passionate about their companies as they are about fashion, and make decisions that are in line with the company culture and the personality of the brand. For example, smaller brands are usually more design-led than name-led. A smaller company will probably allow for more innovation and creativity in design than a larger one that has specific image and brand identity guidelines to adhere to. The culture is going to vary depending on whether you are with a retailer like Britain's High Street shops, a mass retailer that carries premium brand, or working in haute couture.

The senior accessories buyer will want to stay up on market research and continue to find new brands and products to carry.  The fun part of that is meeting new people and previewing new products. 

But then it's down to negotiations.  What does an accessory buyer negotiate?  A senior accessories buyer will negotiate with suppliers for optimum discounts and payment terms, and for quick delivery.   

Good communication and people skills are a must.  Although an accessories buyer must possess the ability to handle a large degree of autonomy, you will need to have the ability to work well within a team.  Your department's strategy is part of a bigger picture that of the company.  If an accessories buyer is working with a designer, care must be taken to ensure an understanding between the buyer and the designer about the best way to balance creativity with commercial needs.

In addition to working out the basics with the designer(s), the accessories buyer will display strong presentation skills for the senior managers. As important to the job of accessories buyer as creativity is, so is the ability to interpret numerical data.  Accessories buyer is a both-sides-of-the-brain position.  The best projections and presentations are informed ones, and you want your decisions to be defendable ones so they are easy to present to senior executives, and ultimately more profitable for the company.

The accessories buyer may have to attend photo shoots and be familiar enough with visual merchandising to select items for print catalogs and promotions if necessary.  You may have to work with the merchandising team to plan pricing strategies, as well as promotional ones.

You probably will not be flying this plane alone.  Most accessories buyers have a co-pilot the assistant buyer.  Past experience as an assistant buyer gives you an edge because you know the personal and professional qualities and drive required for that position.  That knowledge makes managing and developing an assistant buyer less daunting. 

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