A couple weeks ago I turned to someone for advice and realized I had more to offer her on the topic of fashion buying. Right then it hit me that this could be another area in which I could ‘give back’. I by no means claim to know everything, but if you have aspirations of joining the field then I think I can offer some solid tips. And allow a few of you to make less mistakes than I did along the way.
So let’s start at what in the world do you buy?
How do you know what is goin to be a hit and what will be a miss. Do I know? The answer to that is no, I can’t know for sure. However years of experience have brought me pretty close to understanding the science behind clothing women and anticipating their wants.
First things first, identify your market.
Who is your girl? What age group does she fall into? What’s her lifestyle? These questions will determine firstly, her budget. Presumably the older she is the more disposable income she has. Which will then give you an indication of the cost of the goods you want to buy, and secondly, the type of clothing you want to offer her. Does she go clubbing, does she prefer to buy workwear, or are casual pieces her go-to?
Now, here’s the tricky part. When you are starting off and you ask yourself who your girl is. You are actually asking yourself who YOU want your girl to be. Cause you don’t actually have a market as yet. You don’t have any customers. And the truth is that YOU don’t determine who is going to buy your pieces, your pieces do. So SHE comes to you, whatever age group she’s in and whatever lifestyle she leads. But that’s determined by your product offering.
If you are in great shape for a 45-year-old and offer lots of well-priced club wear, cause you’re still into that kinda thing. Chances are you’re going to attract women ages 25-35. And conversely if you are 25 and have really high-end taste, but cater to a 25 year old body. You may have a hard time marketing to that niche. Now this isn’t to say those markets don’t exist, but that’s where your market research comes in. Possibly 25 year olds with lots of cash to burn is the norm in your neck of the woods. Well then great. Capture that market. For the sake of this post I am focusing on retail norms. Because ultimately the aim of the business is to turn a profit and having a larger market aids in that goal.
Choose pieces to suit your market
It’s difficult to imagine being anyone else but yourself. So often times you buy for your own body type. And things that are your personal style. But remember you may not be the norm. And most of us ‘fashion girls’ aren’t. People may admire your style, but 9 out of 10 times they don’t think they can pull it off. Ultimately, don’t buy for you. Buy for the average girl, who wants to be fashionable, but not necessarily push the envelope. As you gain experience you can experiment. However as a start up you want to be sure you have pieces that can appeal to a wide cross section.
Armed with that information you choose pieces that you personally like, but they certainly don’t all have to be something you would wear yourself. I personally know that certain silhouettes don’t suit my athletic frame. However I know that most women are pear shaped and have a smaller waistline than I do, and therefore I cater to that girl also.
So what do you keep in mind when choosing pieces? That some girls hate to go braless, a lot more than you would expect; that most women don’t like dresses that carry volume on the waist and tie at the natural waist; that an empire line or dropped waist is always an easier sell; that orange is the hardest colour to move and that White, black and turquoise are the easiest; that a shift dress and wrap dress suits every body type; that tops and dresses will be your number one sellers; that everyone needs casual pieces and they will always sell but really cute occassion pieces are the impulse buys that women can’t resist. Lastly, diversify! Jewelry and accessories carry no sizing and allow you to offer something to everyone.
My fashion buying rules of thumb
Buying clothing might be 50% premeditated at best, and 50% impulse buys. Remember whether it is on a website or a store front your competition is endless, so buy pieces she can’t live without. I’ve got a few rules of thumb. The first is that if the colorway I love is sold-out, I pass on the piece. Cause chances are I loved it cause I saw it in all the glory of that color. But my girl will never get that chance, and she probably won’t be impressed with second best.
My second rule of thumb is to pass on a piece if I have to think up an occasion for it. Your girl isn’t going to feel a rush of impulsive buying adrenaline for a dress she MIGHT be able to wear to a dinner that her boss MAY invite her to IF she finds the right shoes to go with that particular colour. Nope. Pass. You’ve got to either think that it’s perfect for the season, or it’s so cute she’ll buy it just to have it in her closet and the occasion will come.
Lastly, a picture tells a million words, and sells a million pieces. I got a lot of advice not to post all of my pieces on my social media channels, and other marketing tools. But the best advice I can give you is to trust that your creativity sometimes won’t be understood by someone else’s lack there of. So don’t think that your idea isn’t a good one because someone else doesn’t agree.
Every piece needs a picture. Take it for granted that the average consumer doesn’t understand clothing as well as you do. Why should she? She’s an architect, a teacher, a doctor, a lawyer, a therapist, a gym instructor, an interior designer. Her craft is different and clothing on hangers are just that to her. You can interpret what they look like hanging there, but most others cannot. So SHOW her! In a picture! And not any old picture, but one that expresses the personality of the piece. Again, if you have lots of quantity to push and no image to support it, pass on the piece. Or create the image yourself.
I hope this post was helpful. If you’d like more please comment down below 😊