Interview with Introduction a Buyer

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Buyers play an important role in the apparel industry's supply chain. They serve as a connection between commodity manufacturers and retailers or end-users. Their value is often overlooked, though, since their job is centered in the office and between the sellers and suppliers. Finding a customer and interviewing him or her to learn more about the carrier of customers and their job description was needed to complete the assignment. As a result, I scheduled a meeting with Izabel Ron, a fashion buyer whom I follow on Linkedin. He is a fashion designer and buyer at Inz-Current Fashions in Mountain View California. Therefore, I emailed her, and she agreed to have the interview on Skype through video calling.

The Interview

Q1: Thank you for agreeing to meet with me today. In your Linkeden profile, you say that you are an enthusiastic fashion buyer as well as experienced professional in the fields of fashion design and sales. Just to give an idea of who you are and what you do in the fashion industry, tell me about yourself, the job you do and why you chose to join the fashion industry.

Izabel Ron: I am a fashion as well as apparel designer at Inz-Current Fashions in Mountain View California, where I have worked since 2016. Before then, I worked for several fashion and apparent giant companies such as Nike and Miss Brandy House of Fashion in San Francisco. Basically, I have more than nine years experience in fashion designing and buying. I studied at Ravensbourne College of design at my undergraduate level then travelled to the USA in 2008 for my master_x0092_s degree at the Alabama State University. Fashion designing and buying for my clients is not just a job, it is a hobby, and therefore, I do it with all my heart.

As a fashion designer Inz-Current Fashions and buyer for my executive directors, my job description includes maintaining a keen awareness of the changes in trends in the world of fashion and making designs that go with the time and industry situation. I do not just understand what who wants to where, but what they should wear and how much it will cost. I also do proper range planning to ensure that i get the right products for the right people and events at the right price through the right medium. I pay a lot of attention to the minor details that even though inexperienced people may assume, are essential to the glamour of the pieces. I also source for the fashion products and over time, I have made friends in the industry as well as partners that are both long and short time lead suppliers. As a designer for my company, I have knowledge from class and field experience in casual and formal clothes for diverse people and occasions.

Q2: Can you break it down from when you arrive at your office in the morning~?

Well, I do not usually have a fixed routine. Because of the versatility of my work, I do different things that do not allow me to have a prefixed timetable. However, on a typical day at the office, I arrive to work at 7 am and start preparing for my day by browsing the internet to read about the celebrity trends and new releases in the market. I also use social media a lot. I stay in the office up to around 12 before I go to the workshops where my team of designers and tailors work. I work with my team up to 4 pm before embarking on other activities such as organizing fashion shows and other evening events that are very common in the industry. As a buyer for several celebrities, I meet a lot of high profile people and most of the time, the clients decide the meeting times. Therefore, as I said, I cannot really tell someone when I do what, unless i give them an appointment.

Q3. From you experience in the business, what do you think are the characteristics of successful buyers?

Izabel Ron: I think for one to be an excellent buyer, they need education and passion in fashion. One cannot be good at what they are ignorant about or what they lack interest in. One also needs to be flexible as at times, you may end up buying not because you like something, but because factors concerning the clients and market demands require the clothing. Take for instance myself. I apply my education to know the trends and how to analyze the patterns. However, the analysis without the passion for doing it may not be enough. I need something to keep me in the business. I need to like what I am doing to want to do it the following day.

An excellent buyer must have a good team leader and decision-maker. It is also important to have good analytical skills. In an average day at work, I have to choose between several options, all of which may be unfavorable for me, but good for the client or several options all of which look equally good. Some aspects of decisions that buyers and designers have to make include prices of products, suppliers, promotions, advertising, budget allocation and trends in the industry.

Also, buyers need to be great negotiators. For instance, as a buyer and a designer at the Inz-Current Fashions, I have to meet several suppliers of the same products and buy goods of the best quality from the lowest bidder. I have to articulate the terms of the negotiations before they begin and put myself in a dominant position during the negotiations.

Good buyers also require excellent communication skills. For example, one may be employed by a person who even though is interested in the business, he or she is in it for the money and barely knows a thing. Convincing such a person why the shop should stock a particular line may be tough unless one is splendid at interpersonal skills. Also, the corporate nature of the career requires that buyers have good written skills

Also, one should be a good researcher to make proper decisions about the merchandise to stock. One should ensure that they shop merchandise that is right for the type of target clientele. For instance, from my experience in working with celebrities, I have come to know that they dress to make statements. Therefore, one should only buy them items that fit their personality. If your clientele mainly entails hip-hop fanatics, it will be imperative to research on the trends through watching videos on YouTube and interacting with interested parties to know what to sell them.

Q4: I gather that as a buyer, one depends on other people such as suppliers and teammates to reach their goals. Therefore, just out of curiosity, there a time when a party like a supplier has failed to deliver on their promise?

Izabel Ron: of course such things happen. In an industry that is run through connections and affected by outside factors, one has to expect to be failed by people and to fail other, although they should do all it takes to avoid such scenarios. Personally, even though I have experienced several disappointments, I vividly remember three that I consider the worst. In the first case, I ordered goods from a Chinese factory after they sent samples for viewing. However, the goods that were delivered were not like the samples I had received. The company had paid a lot of money for the goods as a down payment, and I had to explain to the bosses what had happened. I was so hard to convince my boss that I was not part of the scheme. In the other two cases, I had made agreements with two prominent labels to receive pre-orders for their goods that had not been released in the USA yet. However, the deliveries delayed by over two weeks leading to a lawsuit and the loss of several important customers. I almost lost my job after the incidents because they happened at almost the same time.

Q5: How do you handle such disappointments when they happen? Please tell me what you did during the three disappointments.

Izabel Ron: Well, take off and hide..... ha-ha. I_x0092_m just kidding. The cases are different. Therefore, there is no particular one way of dealing with all of them. As I already mentioned, one has to be a good team leader, negotiator and creative. The passion for the job also comes in handy during such times of disappointment. Nevertheless, it is important to communicate with the clients who had made their orders about the supplies. For example, I tell my company of such events and prepare for an alternative option. It is also important to implement the leadership skills that will not only enable one to mitigate the situation. First, one should coordinate with the team to find other alternatives for the products. Among the options is to find other suppliers that may temporarily save the situation. However, in cases of delays, any good buyer should take advantage of the situation because even though it disadvantages their clients, it gives them the upper hand over the suppliers. For instance, in the two cases of delays, I put my negotiation skills to use and bargained for better prices for the merchandise that we had agreed on. I ended up getting a twenty-five percent discount on the delayed goods. The discounts saved my job. On the case of the poor quality of products, I had to return them and ask for a refund.

Q6: as you initially said, your job depends on your analysis of the industry trends. What do you look for in your analysis? Also, as a student and an upcoming buyer, I would also like to know the sources from which you monitor trends.

Well, buying is not a simple task. The analysis is just as serious as any other analysis in business, and unless you know what you are searching for, it may be hard to get the job done right. Therefore, I will begin by telling you the typical information that as a buyer, I look for. The information includes types of fabrics, styling, the types of garments, details, and trims. To get the supplies, one also needs to know the suppliers, fashion stores, fashion designers, fashion shows and manufacturers among others. The information is gotten in fashion books, magazines, fashion stores runways and streets and most importantly, the internet. Information can also be acquired by hiring the services of research companies such as Mintel and Keynote.

Over the internet, the best places to find fashion information ranger celebrity websites and gossip sites to websites of fashion businesses and merchandisers like Calvin Klein among others. The sources are so many, and different buyers get their information in different sources depending on their target clientele. As a student of fashion, you should understand the research part is far-reaching and that it should obey scientific principles. Therefore, always try to eliminate bias even though it cannot be entirely eliminated. Don_x0092_t focus on the designs you like only. Focus on what the market wants. The clients are your primary concern.

Q7: From what you have said and my readings, the analysis of trends is crucial. I also understand that fashion buyers do sales forecasting. Please educate me more about the forecasting.

It is important to appreciate that fashion buying is an essential element of the fashion business. It is also paramount to comprehend that like any other business, information is power on if used for the right reasons such as making predictions concerning the demand and supply of products. Based on the current changes in the industry and the past, buyers analyse the data and come up with the possible occurrences in the near future. The forecasting makes both sales for the clients and supplying for the supplier more efficient as buyers are able to make orders based on real data. The accuracy of the predictions is critical. Also, considering that stylish outfits are not a primary need, the industry tends to be very affected by economic changes. For example, even though it may be percieved as abnormal, a fashion enthusiast without business knowledge, the issue of Brexit disrupted the British fashion industry in several ways. For instance, the trade agreements that were in place with other members of the European Union became null and void and therefore, prices for products changed. Some prices went up, and others went down due to very high inventories. Those who were able to relate the event to the industry avoided miscalculations in their forecasting. Inaccurate prediction leads to excessive inventory or stock outs. Other problems that may arise due to poor forecasting include rush orders and inefficient service deliveries.

Tools that come in handy in forecasting and data analysis include the electronic point of sales systems (EPOS) to collect sales data and the Smart Fashion Sales Forecasting (SFSF) which utilises the data to tell buyers what is in high demand and therefore should be stocked more.

The EPOS from various stores run by Inz-Current Fashions remits data to the head office where the SFSF performs analysis to give meaningful information that can inform ordering.

Proper stocking prevents the loss of sales because of stores running out of stock and the costs associated with too much inventory. The systems monitor the pattern of sales and report the changes daily, weekly or even at deferent times during the day.

Q8: Has your focusting ever been wrong?

Well, I will be lying if I said that the forecasts are usually 100 percent correct. In fact, from my experience in the business, as long as the POS information is accurate, we achieve about 85 to 90 percent accuracy. According to me, that is great. Sometimes like the Brexit, it is just impossible to tell what the future holds.

For example, in 2014, I was posted in London. Even though we did all the right forecasting, the autumn was unusually warm leading to a drop in sales of the autumn line that my store had stocked. Shoppers also avoided buying coats and jumpers. Nevertheless, the year was not very bad in general. The good sales from the first quarter of the year boosted us, and we were able to reach our annual goal. During such emergencies, buyers usually find themselves reordering, and if the clients are not very forgiving, some people lose their jobs. However, with the help of the POS that we are using currently, we are able to make orders based on real time data from the stores. That way, it is hard to have more inventory than needed. The supply chain is connected all the way from the manufacturer to the retailer.

Q9: From the way you speak, there must be a buying strategy that you use to ensure that you get the business done right. Please, can you talk a little about it?

The strategy of a buyer is usually part of the corporate strategy of the buyer for those that work for companies. The strategy defines how the company does business, the suppliers, and the competitors. For the case of Inz-Current Fashions, the strategy is to be the destination of choice for youths in America and the United Kingdom by the use of the proper marketing mix. Therefore, all the teams of the company have their way of meeting the targets of the company.

For the team that I lead, the buying strategies include changing according to the different needs of different times swiftly by consolidating options, reorganising products phasing and reviewing our pricing. We also examine the suppliers to ensure that we remain up to date with our competitors concerning pricing and other elements of the marketing mix.

For instance, with the increasing diversity of Britain and the USA, the company has introduced some Indian designs to appeal to the Indians who live away from home. We call t the Oceanic collection.

Q10: Do you have a buying cycle?

Yes of course. A buyer without cannot work without a buying cycle. Inz-Current Fashions_x0092_ buying cycle has two seasons. We have the Spring/Summer that lasts between February and July and the Autumn/Winter period which runs from August to January. However, the cycles are not very strict. Most of the times, we usually have to introduce transitional ranges between buying cycles depending on customer demands and other variables such as weather changes. For instance, the warm autumn in 2014 forced the company to introduce garments that were not initially in the cycle.

Q11: How does your department assist other departments in the company?

Well, fashion houses are just like teams. The people in their various departments work together to ensure that the whole system runs smoothly. For instance, as buyers, we have to make sure that we buy what is best for the customers and what is trendy to make sure that the sales people at the stores have an easy doing their jobs. The sales people, on the other hand, return the favour by making sure that we get the data that we need as soon as possible. The sales department is vital for our planning, and we are important for them to hit their sales target. In case they fail, we are also answerable.

Q12: How do you know the quantity of merchandise to buy?

I use the OTB (Open-To-Buy) plan to ensure that we only stock what is right for the right time and in the right amount.OTB is the difference between the amount of inventory needed and what is available. The formula for calculating OTB is adding the planned sales, planned mark downs and the planned end of month inventory minus the beginning of month inventory.

For instance, in case there is an inventory level of 100,000 pounds on December first, and EOM of 102,000 for December 31st, planned sales of 40,000 and expected markdowns of 500 pounds, then the OTB will be 42,000pounds.

Q13: Well, that was insightful. Are you in charge of budgeting?

Aahh... not really. However, as a buyer, I have to make contributions. Budget decisions are made from the top of the company downwards. Therefore, I make recommendations rather than the budget.

Q14: Do you have an ethical policy? Also talk briefly about legal issues.

In the current business environment, you cannot work without an ethical policy. You know, the company has to stand for something. For the case of Inz-Current Fashions, we are so strict on getting supplies from suppliers and manufactures that adhere to the recommendations of the International Labor Organization. We do not want to associate with organizations that hurt children or pay less than they are supposed to. We also care for the environment and animal rights. Therefore, we do not have stock animal skin products.

Regarding legal issues, we abide by the particular labour and industrial laws of the different countries we work in. We are flexible, and we also do not enter markets whose laws we do not agree with. I hope I have answered all your questions. I feel tired.

Q14: Well, thank you for agreeing to have this interview. I hope I become as successful as you are in your work have a good day.

Thank you too. Work hard and be smart. Everything else will fall in place.


Buyers are important for more than just going between the suppliers and the retailers. From the interview several things were clear. One of them is that buyers are very informed of the fashion around them. It was also clear that buyers need the knowledge of business to work in the industry because they have to obey the rules of supply and demand (Şen, 2008). According to Izabel Ron, being a buyer requires both education and passion. With education, one can be able to read the trends and use the information to create buying cycles as well as know what is good for each cycle. The passion in the business keeps someone interested even when business goes down.

Roles of buyers

Buyers are responsible for forecasting the market situation and making orders according to the market trends. According to Izabel Ron, buyers use point of sale systems to get data on demand for different products and lines and make orders based on the data. Modernization has made the data more accurate because data is received in real time and tools such as Smart Fashion Sales Forecasting used to make predictions. The use of real time tools like the electronic point of sale systems (EPOS) makes the data reach the buyers in real time enabling them to be more efficient and therefore prevent too much inventory due to ordering too much and running out of stock due to not stocking enough (Şen, 2008).

Buyers also determine the amount and quality of fashion products to buy for the stores at any given time. The open-To-Buy formula is used to determine the quantity of goods to buy based on the demand of the products at the stores. The data used is acquired from the EPOS (Wang, Liu, and Shen, 2016,). The formula for calculating OTB is adding the planned sales, planned mark downs and the planned end of month inventory minus the beginning of month inventory. Offers a case in point of how the formula works in real life cases.

_x0093_For instance, in case there is an inventory level of 100,000 pounds on December first, and EOM of 102,000 for December 31st, planned sales of 40,000 and expected markdowns of 500 pounds, then the OTB will be 42,000pounds._x0094_

Buyers also give inputs to the departments involved in budgeting. According to the interviewee, even though buyers in corporate do not have the powers to make budgets, their forecasting techniques are important in directing the company executives about the money to be set aside for the various reasons during the fiscal years. However, nuyers also need knowledge of budgeting in order o works efficiently.


Buyers are very vital for companies that sell fashion products. Buyers offer insight and connect the stores to their suppliers. Therefore, buyers need to have knowledge about sales, demand, and availability of supply. They should also be able to forecast the sales of the future to enable functions such as budgeting and determining the buying cycles of the organization.

_x000c_List of References

Şen, A., 2008. The US fashion industry: a supply chain review. International Journal of Production Economics, 114(2), pp.571-593.

Wang, L., Liu, X. and Shen, B., 2016, June. Re-design innovation services in fashion supply chain: Motivated by an online fashion marketplace. In Service Systems and Service Management (ICSSSM), 2016 13th International Conference on (pp. 1-3). IEEE.

November 09, 2022



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