Well I didn’t get to ask all the featured questions myself, but it gives me great pleasure to publish a Q & A post which features a collaboration with a Karen Dougall, Senior Buyer from QUIZ Clothing, who gives us some insight into what it’s like to be at the cutting edge of the fashion industry. Between myself and the others asking all the questions, we even managed to squeeze some tips and hints for the 2016 autumn/winter trends.
On what life is like as a senior buyer
AMAZING! No two days are the same, but it’s not exclusively about making buying decision based on appearance. Sales dictate what’s hot and what’s not, as depicted by the sales reports which are read at the beginning of each week.
On what the best bit about her job is
Working closely with the design and buying team to develop new and exciting collections. Karen is a creative person and she knows it, and so she naturally enjoys the process of overseeing and contributing to the bringing together of an entire range.
On deciding which items to stock
“We decide what to stock by following catwalk trends, social media, celebrities and youth trends that just pop up.” Karen concedes that operating as a buyer right now is not unlike being a product developer. They pick fabrics, styles and also negotiate delivery dates and prices for the stock. “It’s full on!” she exclaims.
On how she got into buying
Karen studied fashion at the Scottish College of textiles, which now goes by the name of Herriot Watt University. She graduated with her first class degree in fashion with business, a combination which almost had her destined to eventually becoming a buyer — a senior buyer at that. Following her graduation, she went to work for an importing company based out of Glasgow, from which she went on to get a promotion that took her to the London office, where she worked with buyers from Topshop and Baker. She got a real feel for exactly what buyers do and immediately concluded that it was something she could definitely do.
“I was moving back to Scotland, so wrote to Scottish retailers with my CV explaining that I wanted to be a buyer,” she said. “As luck would have it, QUIZ was a growing retail company looking for a junior to help out with some of the administration, fitting clothes and assisting with selection. The buyers took a chance on me and thankfully it all paid off,” she concludes. Karen has since been with QUIZ for more than 15 good years and has grown her buying career with the success and growth of the company.
On what makes a good buyer
Karen believes that one of the key points making a good buyer is the ability to build up strong relationships with the entire supply chain, managing the supply chain to make sure you get the product in store on time. A good buyer is blessed with a keen eye for commercial trends and styles, always on the lookout for winning clothing lines. “You have to be confident and knowledgeable on future trends, fabrics, colours and have a good business mind too,” she says. Professionalism is the key to success in this industry.
Advice she has for anyone seeking to become a buyer
Study hard at university so as to attain a qualification related to fashion, then after that it’s all about building up relationships, getting to grips with the customer and always being at the forefront of emerging trends.
Celebrities who influence her style the most
The Kardashians alongside style icons such as Olivia Palemero, so too bloggers like Up Close and Stylish.
Big trends she expects for autumn/winter 2016
- – Velvet everything, from dresses, tops, play suits, to camisole dresses, boots and shoes
- – Underwear worn as clothing, with one huge trend in particular being that of the satin camisole slip dress with lace details all set to be an essential wardrobe item
- – Embroidery on clothing, accessories and footwear
Must-have item for the 2016 autumn/winter season
A metallic pleated skirt!
On her last fashion purchase
A pinstripe embroidered Zara shirt – “It’s my new prized possession!” she exclaimed.