Career as a cloth buyer

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Lisa Baker works as an assistant cloth buyer in London. She helps to source and buy the fabrics needed to make sample garments. Part of her job involves regular contact with fabric suppliers throughout the world.

What is your role as a cloth buyer?

My role is to assist the cloth buyer at Jaeger. I work closely with fabric mills to ensure we can source the latest fabrics for the collection and maintain high quality standards.

What does your career as a cloth buyer involve?

Keeping in regular contact with fabric suppliers around the world is an important aspect of my work. Visiting trade fairs and shows is another way I keep up to date with fabric trends and fashions.

I meet regularly with our buyers, designers and cloth manager to develop colours and cloth for new garment ranges.

As a cloth buyer, do you have a typical day?

My first task each morning is to respond to my emails. The rest of the day is spent on a wide range of tasks, including developing new designs, prints and colourways, and sourcing new base fabrics and suppliers. I also manage our fabric budget, deal with invoices and chase the mills for deliveries.

What hours do you work?

I work from 9.00am until 5.15pm, although I can work longer hours if we are very busy.

Do you work alone?

No, I work closely with the cloth manager, who is my boss.We work as part of a team with the buyers and designers, collaborating to research and develop ideas.

What is the working environment like?

I work in bright and airy open-plan offices. The atmosphere is very friendly and energetic.

What personal qualities and skills do you need for a career as a cloth buyer?

You need to be hard working and able to prioritise a huge volume of work. A diplomatic approach to problem solving is also important, along with communication skills.

What do you enjoy about your career as a cloth buyer?

It is very satisfying seeing clothes for sale in the shops, knowing that you have been part of the team responsible for their production.

What are the main challenges of a cloth buyer?

If I make a mistake, thousands of metres of expensive fabric could be wasted. The job therefore carries responsibility, although my manager and the rest of the team are always available to offer support.Working within the timescales can also be a challenge.

How do you see your future?

I would like to continue learning as much as possible and to progress within the company.

Lisa's route to her career as a cloth buyer

  • Degree in Textiles and Fashion Design Management.
  • Assistant merchandiser.
  • Assistant cloth buyer.

Lisa's cloth buyer tips

  • Keep a scrap book of all your ideas.
  • Work experience is a big advantage.

Cloth buyer related jobs

  • Clothing pattern cutter/grader
  • Fashion/clothing designer
  • Merchandiser
  • Purchasing manager/administrator
  • Store owner/manager
  • Textile designer

Salary as a cloth buyer

  • An assistant cloth buyer might earn between £20,000 and £24,000.
  • A junior buyer may earn from £24,000 to £30,000.
  • Experienced buyers can earn between £30,000 and £40,000, with higher salaries possible for head buyers in charge of large departments.

Career as a cloth buyer

  • Buying as a career is very competitive, with many more applicants than vacancies.
  • It is often necessary to start as an administrator and you will usually need a degree or HND qualification, either in fashion, business or a combination of the two.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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