Fashion, behind the scenes

Behind the stunning stores with amazing collections that you love, there is a world that you don’t see and thrives on creativity, forecasting, planning, analysis, negotiation and a lot of dedication. Fashion is a deceptively enormous industry, despite of the fact designers tend to get most of the public glory, there are thousand of professionals behind, in fields ranging from buyers, merchandisers, visuals merchandisers, allocators, brand controllers, web team, marketing, RRPP, HHRR and so on.

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With head for business and hear for fashion I work as a Merchandiser Assistant and my goal in long term is moving into a multinational buying role where I can utilize my numerical skills along with my passion in fashion and travel. Working for a british brand in a cutting edge of fashion such as London it is being an utterly enriching experience. In this post, I would like give you a glimpse about whats going on behind the scenes in a fashion company.

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The food chain begins understanding our customer and identifying what she is looking to capture, but not now, next year! And whats more difficult, most of the time she doesn’t know what she wants, she just follow fashion and for this reason we should know and forecast what is going to be fashion next year. There is no a magic formula to help, this is were experience, intuition and foresight come together in the form of ” fashion wisdom”. Always aware about whats around the corner our designers must to be on the top of catwalks, blogs, magazines, celebrities, trends and develop concepts, sketches and produce a collection. While designers brings the touch of creation, following trends, merchandisers, more analytical and numerical, bring these ideas from clouds to the real world. Based on numbers, previous sells, best and worst, budget and sales planned we mix analytical and creative work in order to select the styles that we think are going to be selling in the stores. Once designers, merchandisers, buyers and company directors sign off the final collection, tones of work and negotiation star.

Buyers find the partner that they want to purchase the style from, negotiating lead times and prices. Once they approve the samples the factory starts the production and merchandisers monitoring the deliveries ensuring that suppliers are meeting deadlines and correct ratios.

Merchandisers will plan all the financial aspect of the from top to bottom by weeks at a seasonal level and year level and plan goals for the big picture using the famous WSSI ( weekly sales, stock and intake). At the more basic level, the merchandiser ensures that the correct merchandise is in a store at the correct time with the correct quantity to satisfy the customer and the success on that will be quantified by achievement of retail sales and gross margin goals.

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Once the merchandise is in our warehouse, allocators will do the distribution to the different stores and visual merchandisers will create the in-store and window display that entice customer to browse and buy. Then is time for our department to analyze, studying by week whats going on in our category line, analyzing sales, identifying what brings the cash into the business, best and worst sellers and deciding whats needs to go on promo or markdown depending on some KPI ( key performance indicators) such as weekly cover (how many weeks the merchandise will last into the store) and sell-thru ( merchandise % sold). Comparing with our forecast, plan and LY we can see by weeks how is it doing the collection and then learn about it for next seasons.

I really love to be connected with the results, it is very satisfactory to see project that your team developed come across to fruition in a store. But also is a lot of pressure cos our decisions will affect company and sales thrive or fail. Fashion is a very fast paced environment, very dynamic, especially in fast fashion what make you be always watching out what business needs and identifying opportunities.

For me is a pleasure be surrounded by such as committed and professional team, 90% women, intelligent, hard working, effectively and with passion for what they do and thriving to improve business results and themselves. I am learning a lot from them, especially from my boss Sile and Kelly, examples to follow in my career development.

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