Buying – a key Fashion Management role

Here is an interesting and thoughtful passage related to the buying function, from a book called, ‘The Comfort of Things’, by Daniel Miller (2008 p119)

“A retail buyer has the capacity to become a craftsman, because he occupies a critical position, with responsibility to find the best possible fit between two complex processes: that represented in production and that in consumption.  Retail buyers have to imagine the myriad worlds of customers, from a football mad fryer of fish and chips to a schoolteacher devoted to Bach… They have to imagine what continuities they wish to retain from the last season and what would satisfy their desire for change and distinction.  Then, having made those considerations, they have to turn and face in the opposite direction and consult with designers, factories and the vast edifice of capitalist manufacture and distribution.  Somehow these two have to be fitted together, the potential of the work of design and production meshed with the taste and concern of the world of consumption.  And a retail buyer will be held accountable for the degrees to which they get this right, as reflected in those profits and losses, accounts and audits… It requires skill, elegance, imagination, hard patient labour, experience, and then responsibility for action… the delicate tracery of a supply chain, the way bright colours of design have to be set into the matt background of order books; the warp and weft of negotiations over price and quantity; the pouring of product assemblage into the mould of window displays… Yet a retail buyer’s job is precisely the kind of labour we hardly see at all… a retail buyer is practically invisible, even though they are the people who actually decide what will be stocked in those shops.  They are the people we ought to thank when the stock appeals to us and blame when it doesn’t.  They are the lynchpins, the determinants of what actually exists out there, in the commercial world we encounter… So it is the retail buyer who ultimately determines what gets to be made and is thereby the arbiter of what we end up seeing around us.”

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