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Fashion Buying & Merchandising: From mass-market to luxury retail

Fashion Buying & Merchandising: From mass-market to luxury retail

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Fashion Buying & Merchandising: From mass-market to luxury retail

5/5 (1 valutazione)
212 pagine
3 ore
Nov 3, 2015


Every person on the planet has a relationship with fashion. The term conjures up images of statuesque women gliding down the runway with their hips swaying so precisely; it's hypnotic.
Underneath the glamorous veneer of fashion is a very complex and challenging industry, and arguably the most important players within it are buyers and merchandisers. There is a host of other players, but none can be effective without talented buyers and merchandisers who understand their role and responsibilities; the strategies and tools they must employ to be effective, and how to remain competitive in the dynamic world of fashion.
In this book, we take you on a journey from concept to runway to rack. We pull back the veil and reveal the complexities and demands of a fashion organization from the view of a buyer or merchandiser. This includes exploration of a buyer's challenging role and the rich, analytical role of a merchandiser.
You will learn about:
•The specific demands of each role
•The complex decision processes that make a concept a reality
•The major players in the production and technical analysis process
•The key areas of networking and professional development
•The demands of modern fashion business
If you are considering fashion studies, are a current student, or you would like to develop your career further, you will receive critical information that will help you navigate a career in fashion.
After reading this book, you will be armed with a wealth of fashion knowledge, and be prepared to tackle the industry from any angle whether as a buyer, merchandiser, or other professional.

Nov 3, 2015

Informazioni sull'autore

Miguel is a Senior Buying Manager who specialises in the fashion industry. His experience is broad and ranges from Buying and Merchandising to Retail Operations. As a Buying and Merchandising expert, Miguel engages in consultancy projects, for which he has been a key player in devising supply chain strategies for his clients. Miguel is a graduate in BA Fashion Business from the London College of Fashion (University of the Arts London), one of the most influential institutions in the fashion world.

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Anteprima del libro

Fashion Buying & Merchandising - Miguel Hebrero

Miguel Hebrero

Copyright © 2015 by Miguel Hebrero.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.


Any companies mentioned are in no way linked to this book nor to its author.

Fashion Buying and Merchandising: From mass-market to luxury retail / Miguel Hebrero

ISBN 10: 978-1517632946 (ppk.)

ISBN 13: 1517632943 (ppk.)

To those who have believed in me and from which I have felt so inspired: Valerio Narcisi, Albert Puyol, Paul Thomas and Javier Trenco.



1 Understanding Luxury

2 The Role of Buying

3 The Role of Merchandising

4 The Role of Design

5 Marketing the Fashion Product

6 Trend Forecasting

7 Merchandise Planning

8 Management of the Supply Chain and Source

9 Management and Distribution of Stock

10 Supply Chain Dynamics

11 Breaking into a Career in Buying or Merchandising


About the Author


When people think of the fashion industry, the catwalk immediately comes to mind. The image of statuesque models gliding down the runway with their hips swaying in perfect and slightly erotic rhythm has been purposefully embedded in our minds. Fashion is unlike any other type of consumer goods yet its ultimate goal is to deliver a profit. What has come to define the industry in many people's eyes is actually the high-end buying segment, but the fashion industry is diverse and ranges from the most luxurious and exclusive brands down to those who compete in the value segment, such as Primark. The fashion world is challenging and highly competitive, and it is rapidly growing every day as a result of modern communication and technological advancements.

The term 'fashion' is defined as a style of dressing prevailing among a group of people for a substantial length of time. It is displayed in anything that adorns the body and it has become a central and defining part of popular and traditional culture. Many people have an emotional connection to the way they decorate their bodies. The differences among groups and cultures have caused conflicts that have even become violent like the Zoot Suit Riots in America. There are many that associate class with dress and this too has resulted in major conflict.

The West has come to have a very influential role in fashion, and these parts of the world are associated with fashion and style. Much of this stems from mass media and our ability to distribute our media throughout the world; however, the reality is that every culture has their own unique and beautiful ways of decorating the body; furthermore, 75% of the world's fashion market is concentrated in four regions including China and Japan. Fashion is rich and diverse, and designers often find inspiration for their creative designs from traditional clothing in Africa, Asia, and other parts of the world.

It can be argued that the fashion industry does not follow organic trends but manufactures them. Although I believe that this is true to some middle and lower-end businesses, creativity is well rooted at the heart of most fashion luxury houses. Part of a buyer's job is to support creativity for new ideas while following those which already exist should they be aligned with the brand’s own identity. You have to maintain a high level of awareness so that your product remains relevant and attractive.

What is interesting and important about the fashion industry of today, in the world of street fashion, is that technology has accelerated the process of trends; furthermore, it is closing the gap between high-end fashion and street fashion. It is much easier to produce clothing that conforms to a specific style because of technological advancements, and modern communication ensures that trends are not isolated or secret. This has also changed the tastes and awareness of the common person. Consumers expect more, they are more aware of what is happening, and they also have more choice. It has also become easier for more producers to enter the market, including micro-operations. Though this is a global trend, there are some countries and cultures that place little or no value on fashion, or which have their own unique definition of it that stands totally apart from the industry.

Underneath the glamorous veneer of fashion is a very complex and challenging industry, and arguably the most important players within it are buyers and merchandisers. Buyers and merchandisers are the lifeblood of this sector. There is a host of other players, but none can be effective without talented buyers and merchandisers who understand their role and responsibilities; the strategies and tools they must employ to be effective, and how to remain competitive in our dynamic world. The importance of this role is so great that retailers are highly-selective and compensate buyers and merchandisers well. Some have a superficial view of buying and think it is a matter of taste or following trends, but its actual function is to serve the customer while employing the strategy of the brand. It is a deep form of marketing that must tap into the tastes and sensibility of the retailer's buyers.

You must have a thorough understanding of who these people really are and how to serve them; furthermore, you must be capable of anticipating what they will want next season. Simply dictating what they should want and aggressively pushing that approach will not work. It would be like convincing someone who enjoys beer and pizza to love roasted lamb. A buyer must instead understand their audience and essentially have a conversation with them through marketing and product. That conversation forms a relationship that transforms them into a loyal customer and brand advocate. An example of this would be consumers that have a preference for Abercrombie & Fitch. Their stores typically sell T-shirts and other inexpensive products but position their product in the right way to attract those that want to believe the product is exclusive and even high-end, and that refuse to wear clothing that extends too far beyond jeans and T-shirts. This business model deserves credit like any other; it is all about connecting with your audience.

The industry is full of disappearing retailers. Many of them were once at the forefront of trendiness, but failed to meet the most basic retail standard of consistent profit. The fashion industry is far less forgiving than others. The evidence of this is clear and abundant. Many shops go as quickly as they appear while other shops are forced to change their target customers entirely. Some watch as the power of their brand fades. This is a result of retailers' inability to meet the challenges of their business and its fiercely competitive nature. Many underestimate this, and they are entranced by the romantic image of glamour and self-expression. Though it is extremely rewarding and allows you to exercise your artistic talents, it is also a business first and art second. In Karl Lagerfeld’s own words: There is no fashion if nobody buys it.

The Root of the Fashion Industry

Fashion has changed dramatically in a relatively short period. This is largely due to industrialization and recent advances. Fashion buying and merchandising began with a much lower profile. This was due to the place fashion occupied in daily life and society. Fashion did not begin as an industry. It simply existed, much like crops, and the only defining segments were what common people wore and what the elite wore. The gap between the two was dramatic in many cultures and societies; for example, in many parts of Asia, not only could the average person not afford to wear anything the nobles or royalty wore, but it was illegal. In this age, fashion existed exclusively as the made-to-order work of single craftsmen. The Industrial Revolution opened the door to mass-produced garments (and artists and those with taste wept). The distribution and retail to support this soon followed, and the cobblers and peddlers could no longer compete.

Retailers continued to expand from there along with production. The quantity of product purchased also increased. This raised the stakes. More product meant a larger investment, and stakeholders needed better professionals to reduce risk. Groups of specialist buyers and merchandisers were formed, and there was heavy investment in defining and understanding their specialist skills and the finer areas of the product they managed. How specialized was this?

Today, many buyers only deal with a tiny and specific range of garments. Buyers gain expertise in one or two garment types and do not venture outside of their area. Buyers must have an intimate understanding of garment engineering, such as knitwear specialists and their knowledge of yarns and the knitting process. Some also have other specialized knowledge related to their product like knowledge of human anatomy. Buyers will learn how the material cuts, how it will behave and fits the body when it is worn; they will learn about its resistance, and how the fabric falls and responds to the elements. The importance of specialization is further illustrated by the need for continuing education; for example, you must be aware of how clothing manufacturing processes and equipment change, and how this impacts not only the products but other aspects like distribution and storage. Yet I would argue that the single most important must-have quality of a fashion buyer is a sound market knowledge and an understanding of consumer behaviour and preferences; to understand how much value their clients put in each aspect of the product, whether it be design features, branding elements, quality or price.

A Timeline of the Industry

In the 1910s, outlets were limited to individuals. The product was made-to-order, and only knowledge of each individual was necessary. In the 1920s, department stores were developed, and the range of products and customers grew. In the 1930s, stores expanded to chains and the market broke into affordable clothes for everyone and aspirational products for some; furthermore, cheap ready-to-wear clothing became standard. The 1940s saw the industry affected by war. War rationed the engineering materials. It was during this era that the infamous Zoot Suit Riots occurred.

Zoot suits were styled in a baggy, loose manner. The jackets were long with broad shoulders, and the trousers hung loose and bunched. The war-imposed rations made them extravagant and unpatriotic in the eyes of many, and they were produced outside of regulations. There were also racial tensions at the time between Caucasian soldiers and Mexican-American and black soldiers (and youth). A storm of dehumanizing propaganda, racially-motivated crimes, and terribly marginalized groups created a powder keg. These suits were a form of protest. The wearers were protesting against those that denied them dignity and those who oppressed them in any other way. This erupted into physical violence in California.

It was not until the mid-50s that the industry returned to normalcy, and it was during this period that French and American styles began their rise to the status they have today. Mass media and advances in technology played a huge role in this as these eras saw televisions placed in every home and wider distribution of fashion media. The runway came to people's living rooms, and they could not fight their excitement. This was also aided by popular culture, specifically African-American music and style, and counterculture.

These artists and tastemakers inspired a broader and more rich view of expression in dress. Black entertainers' fashion choices were a reflection of the grand, flamboyant, and fun style choices that are common in populations of African descent. Examples of this include colour and pattern choices in clothing, hairstyles, and accessory choices. Those within that community often choose things that are ornate, unique, or designed to draw attention in the same way as a song. They sing with their fashion. Other demographics found these choices exciting and wanted to emulate them.

Counterculture was heavily inspired by the use of mind-altering substances, and those most influential within it wanted to break away from the ultra-conservative style of dress that had dominated fashion choices in the decades prior. Long bland clothing that hid the body and muted the wearer's personality were abandoned in favour of things like ruffles, multicolour clothing, and any other variations people found interesting. It is a testament to how emotionally, culturally, and politically connected people were to fashion that during this era people were often threatened by the very act of dressing substantially different. In some cases, it incited violence because people believed the wearers were deviants that would commit or had committed all kinds of crimes.

This growth and evolution continued, and by the 1970s, disposable youth fashion and real brand awareness was born. This pattern grew into the decades that followed and became even stronger with heightened brand awareness and clear lines dividing consumers. People came to have a less practical and standardized view of dress, and began associating choices with much more. The 2000s saw dramatic shifts in the view of the average consumer. Greater choice caused greater expectation, and also caused entirely new demands based on the customer experience of web-based retail and the cultural shifts caused by a more connected world. Culture was no longer isolated. Culture that once varied by region primarily as a result of communication has virtually disappeared in many places.

Fashion Marketing in the Tweet Era

Marketing has a much different face in the age of web-based shopping and extreme choice. One of the most critical areas of buying is the unique blend of marketing strategies for retail. Traditionally, marketing has been more focused on making the consumer aware of the range of products available, but in this business (and many others), that is not enough. The customer must be engaged. An experience and culture must be created for them. The particular recipe for this will vary wildly across vendors and markets. The ultimate objective is to deliver what they really want. This is not achieved through guesswork or someone's unique talent for picking hot items. It is a rich process of research and analysis.

The changing face of the buying masses is also presenting a new set of challenges for the

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