Fashion Buying Courses

By Mariza Halliday - Last update

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What is Fashion Buying?

In the retail industry, a Fashion Buyer is an individual who selects what items are stocked by a store. Taking from their knowledge of fashion together with business sense, fashion buyers decide what to buy, which mix of brands to buy, and need to know what their customer is looking for.

Fashion Buyers usually work for department stores, clothing chains, wholesale clothing distributors, or smaller retail establishments. They are responsible for selecting and purchasing clothes and accessories from designers, manufacturers, and/or wholesalers for their company to sell.

Buyers usually work closely with designers and their designated sales representatives and attend trade fairs, wholesale showrooms, and fashion shows to observe trends. Besides maintaining strong relationships with top brands, buyers constantly stay on the lookout for new brands, designers, and trends

What 3rd level courses are available?

Universities and colleges in Ireland are offering Fashion Buying courses in the following subject areas:

  • Fashion Buying & Merchandising – Gain the knowledge and skills necessary for the foundations that are necessary to succeed as a fashion buyer in today’s competitive environment.
  • Fashion Buying & Management – The study of the educational requirements and learning opportunities necessary to succeed as a fashion buyer.
  • Diploma in Fashion & Retail Buying – Acquire in-depth knowledge of fashion and retail buying to develop your career.
  • Fashion Management – Gain the knowledge to advance your skills and progress to the next level in the business environment of the global fashion industry.
  • Fashion Fundamentals – The study of Fashion and style and the basics of the fashion industry.
  • Fashion and Styling – The study of the theory concerning comprehensive aspects of self-image, personal care, make-up, colour, and fashion’s latest trends. 

Studying Fashion Buying in college

Many Fashion Buying courses take place over 1 year to 4 years depending on the course and modules selected. There are also part-time courses and night courses available so you can be sure to fit in your studies no matter what your schedule is like.

Courses will cover all theory work through lectures, assignments, tutorials, and taught modules. Assessments will take place continuously with written examinations and practical assignments combined to achieve a qualification.

You could also consider work experience such as a part-time job on a shop floor, a role within the head office, even time spent work shadowing – gain as much experience as you can. Work Experience will not only allow you to obtain a deeper knowledge and understanding of the industry, but it will also give you a chance to do some essential networking with other industry professionals and gain valuable contacts for the future.

Career options

After completing a course in Fashion Buying you will be able to get started in a career that uses specific knowledge of Fashion Trends and Fashion Buying.

Working hours will depend on whether you are employed by a company with set business hours or if you are contracted to various facilities or companies. The hours are usually full-time, Monday to Friday, but you may have to meet very tight deadlines and as a result, working hours will frequently extend beyond 9 am to 5 pm.

Early starts or late finishes may be especially common when traveling to trade fairs or fashion shows. Although it’s not common freelance work is possible once you have experience.

Most buyers are based in the organization’s head office. The majority of your time will be spent in an office, although there may be travel off-site during the day. Buying departments have a busy and lively atmosphere and you will have frequent contact with wholesalers, manufacturers, and suppliers.

Related jobs include:

  • Retail buyer
  • Retail manager
  • Retail merchandiser
  • Stylist
  • Textile designer
  • Visual merchandiser
  • Clothing/textile technologist
  • Event manager
  • Jewelry designer
  • Magazine journalist
  • Make-up artist
  • Public relations officer
  • Talent agent

Further study

After completing a course in Fashion Buying you may choose to pursue further study in a specialist field to increase your knowledge base and skillset. Postgraduate study can also be used as a means to change career focus or to gain professional qualifications required to practice in certain career areas such as Fashion Design, Merchandising, or Manufacturing.


Are there any specific skills that would be beneficial for a career in Fashion Buying?

As with any role in fashion, competition is fierce. As well as working to maintain an up-to-date knowledge of fashion trends, you should have the following skills to increase your chances of securing a job: negotiation skills, numeracy skills, creative flair, communication skills, commercial awareness, organization and planning, and the ability to cope well under pressure and deadlines.

Where can I study Fashion Buying?

Explore your options here

Did You Know?

· The simple, yet elegant and highly versatile little black dress is attributed to Coco Chanel.

· Southdale Center in Edina, Minnesota was America’s first example of a large-scale indoor mall, with nearly 75 shops filling two levels of retail space.

· According to a study, a shopper who first purchases something on his or her shopping list is more likely to buy unrelated items later as a kind of reward.

· Like casinos, malls are laid out in a way that invites consumers to consume endlessly without offering them a clear way out. This is known as the “Gruen Transfer”, named after the creator of the first mall.

· Fashion magazine Vogue published its first issue on December 17, 1892.

· Vintage clothing refers to clothing made between 20 and 100 years ago. Retro refers to clothing that is recently made but was designed to resemble the style of another period.


Mariza Halliday

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