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How To Become a Fashion Buyer

Kidzworld interviews Alyssa Freeberg, a real-life Rachel Green!

Nov 12, 2019

Kidzworld sat down with Alyssa Freeberg, an assistant buyer at a top department store chain in New York City. Alyssa's career started after college, but her passion for fashion began much earlier than that. Read on to learn about how she transformed her lifelong love of clothes, shopping, style, and trend forecasting into an exciting career where she helps decide the styles you get to choose from when you visit a department store.

Kidzworld: What do you do for work?

  • Alyssa: I am an assistant buyer at a department store. I assist my buyers in selecting and curating product to illustrate a story through merchandise. I analyze sales performance and develop vendor relationships to help drive business success. In addition, I identify key seasonal trends and research competitive landscapes. 

Kidzworld: What inspired you to do what you do?

  • Alyssa:  Ever since I was little, I knew I wanted to work in fashion. I loved reading articles about style, watching red carpets and of course shopping. When I learned there was a world of careers where I could be a part of that world, I knew that was what I was destined to.
  • I love fashion and the more I learned about it, the more I love the business aspect behind it. I enjoy how clothing can make someone feel special and confident. Once I started work, I felt extremely happy when I would walk the sales floor and see customers picking the merchandise I helped curate and seeing them happy with their purchase. 

Jennifer Aniston played Rachel Green on Friends. She landed her dream job: being an assistant buyer at BloomingdalesJennifer Aniston played Rachel Green on Friends. She landed her dream job: being an assistant buyer at Bloomingdales

Kidzworld: What did you do to learn more about the fashion world when you were in middle and high school?

  • Alyssa: In middle school, I took advantage of the fact that I lived 30 minutes from a well known fashion school - FIT. I took weekend classes in fashion merchandise, trend forecasting and model drawing. This really helped me understand what I like and what I don’t in the fashion industry. I took this interest into high school where I realized there was no fashion business course. I wanted to learn more so I worked with my business school teacher to create a fashion merchandise class. This was very beneficial to my understanding of the topic. This also helped in initiating my love for leadership.

Kidzworld: What did you study in college to prepare?

  • Alyssa: I majored in Marketing and minored in retailing leadership and entrepreneurship. I also got my masters in International Business. I was lucky enough to have a retail center at my college. I utilized this resource and had a mentor who worked with me and was a big inspiration. As a Junior, I became a peer mentor for students in the retail center. I held office hours weekly to assist students with their questions concerning their professional and educational growth. 

The most common fashion job titles include buyers and assistant buyersThe most common fashion job titles include buyers and assistant buyersCourtesy of Jamie Knoth of The Balance

Kidzworld: What's a day behind the scenes at a department store like as a fashion buyer?

  • Alyssa: I spend a lot of time talking with people who represent fashion brands, often multiple times each day. I work with them to create purchase orders based on the styles and items my buyer and I pick out at market about 6-12 months in advance. I work on pricing the merchandise and shipping as well. My position focuses on accurately getting the merchandise from the vendor to the store. I also analyze business performance and see if we can make any changes in merchandise selection, allocation of goods or change of strategy.

Kidzworld: What’s your favorite part of your job?

  • Alyssa: My favorite part of my job is working hands on with the product. We go to market with the vendor and select merchandise we think will do well. I really enjoy seeing the process from start with the vendor to finish with the customers purchasing the merchandise.

Are you style-obsessed? How many of these brands can you identify?Are you style-obsessed? How many of these brands can you identify?Courtesy of Kiss Clipart

Kidzworld: Is working as a buyer at a department store anything like it’s portrayed on TV?

  • Alyssa: I definitely compare myself to a real life Rachel Green as she was an assistant buyer!! My career is definitely more analytical and financial focused than it looks like on TV. Unfortunately, it is not as glamorous as it may seem - we don’t all get to go to Paris for fashion week :( 

A lot goes on behind the scenes at a major department storeA lot goes on behind the scenes at a major department store

Kidzworld: What advice would you give teens interested in pursuing a career in fashion?

  • Alyssa: Stay focused on your dream. Look into new ways to learn more and to make connections. Subscribe to articles such as business of fashion to stay aware of all current news and trends. Ask question! If you meet someone in fashion -ask them what they think got them to where they are today and ask them what they wish they knew when they were your age.  Keep learning as the retail industry changes rapidly! If you are dedicated and show your passion, you will find your dream job. I know I did!
Have Your Say

Do you have a passion for fashion? Are you more of a fashionista like Rachel, a scientist like Ross, a chef like Monica, an actor like Joey, a statistical analyst (or "transponster", according to Rachel) like Chandler, or a Jack-of-all-trades like Phoebe? Tell us which Friends character you identify with the most or talk about your fashionista dreams in the comments below.