Fashion Merchandise Buyer: Job Description & Career Info

Apr 12, 2019

Fashion merchandise buyers interact with wholesalers and clothing manufacturers to purchase lines of clothing, shoes and fashion accessories to be featured at retail stores. Keep reading to learn more about the training, salary and outlook for this career.

Career Definition for a Fashion Merchandise Buyer

Fashion merchandise buyers work for retail fashion and department stores. They visit clothing, shoe and accessory manufacturers and attend trade shows in order to determine what fashion items their stores will carry each season. Because of the need to stay current with trends and offer competitive pricing, the work is generally quick-paced and aggressive. Many fashion merchandise buyers travel internationally on a regular basis to foreign manufacturing sites and glamorous fashion shows.

Education Bachelor's degree in business, marketing or fashion
Job Skills Confidence, risk-taking, decisiveness, knowledge of current fashion trends
Median Salary (2018)* $62,750 (all buyers and purchasing agents)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* -3% decline (all purchasing managers, buyers, and purchasing agents)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Most fashion merchandise buyers have bachelor's degrees in business, marketing or fashion. They generally enter the field as assistant buyers who work under the supervision of senior buyers. These more experienced buyers provide on-the-job training and help junior-level buyers learn the particular tastes and styles of the store or chain for which they work.

Skills Required

The College Board recommends that fashion merchandise buyers be confident risk-takers. The career requires decisiveness and extensive research of fashion industry trends.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects that the job market for purchasing managers, buyers, and purchasing agents in general will decline 3% between 2016 and 2026. According to the BLS, in 2018, buyers and purchasing agents earned a median annual salary of $62,750.

Alternate Career Options

Similar career options within this field include:

Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Representative

Only requiring a high school diploma for the sale of products that aren't technical or scientific, this career involves selling goods for manufacturers or wholesalers to customers, such as government agencies or businesses. The BLS predicted average job growth of 5% from 2016-2026 for this high-pressure occupation that often involves travel. In 2018, these sales reps earned a median salary of $58,510 per year, the BLS reported.


With a bachelor's degree and related job experience, logisticians seek employment managing the life cycles of products, from acquisition to delivery. Average employment growth of 7% was anticipated for these professionals during the 2016-2026 decade. The BLS reported annual median earnings of $74,600 in 2018.

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