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Mar 09, 2022

Buy, buy

Once upon a time there was Colette

Opened in 1997 and closed in 2017, the coolest Parisian fashion destination was more than just a shop. It was the first concept store to combine fashion with unique collaborations with artists and creative, impressive brands and bubbly personalities. Founded by Colette Rousseaux and her daughter Sarah Andelman on «a whim and intuition», to sell fashion items that could not be found in Paris, Colette used their avant-garde vision to create the concept store as we know it, a great example of the power of a family business. These successful mother and daughter were the first to embrace sneaker and streetwear trends at a time when street style had not taken over luxury yet, plus they would regularly feed their customer’s appetite for newness with the coolest collaborations.


Colette Rousseaux and Sarah Andelman
It was the beginning of a revolution in the fashion industry that led to a brand-new shopping experience

Although Colette decided to close its doors five years ago, the fashion system is still not over it and the main reason for this huge success is for sure the unique buyer’s vision of the founders. This small family business became so relevant – with revenues of 200 million RMB, with online sales accounting for 25% in 2016 – that during the latest Men’s Fashion Week in Paris Sarah Andelman finally came back on the scene with a pop-up store called Just a Space, her first shop since the closing of Colette. A key profile for every store and for the industry as a whole, fashion buyers like Colette Rousseaux and Sarah Andelman are the professionals that somebody once called «the most fashionable businesspeople, the product of a strong collision of rationality and sensibility». When we walk into a shop, everything that we see, everything we can buy, was chosen by them for us. But what exactly does a fashion buyer do?

In China in particular, buyers are highly qualified professionals who can serve a brand by focusing on business analysis and planning, or they can work for department stores or boutiques and focus on merchandise. The first type is responsible for sales results and provide direction for product structure and orders through plenty of sales data analysis and market research. One of the required skills is a comprehensive knowledge of textiles, such as fabric elasticity, shrinkage and colour fastness, which may be related to a brand’s style and final sales. They must also be able to understand market needs and communicate with the design team to suggest future directions.

On the other hand, fashion buyers in department stores usually focus on participating in brand announcements and product analysis, not only to understand customer groups, but to get better at data analysis and keep up with market trends. They go to the major fashion weeks to select the best looks based on store positioning and their target audience. «Nowadays, large-scale showrooms welcome Chinese buyers not only because they see our growth and aesthetic improvement but, more importantly, because the Chinese economy is still taking off and China’s huge consumer market has made our international buyers increase their social status more and more», explained Renee Lu, a senior fashion buyer in the industry, stating that domestic buyers have great potential and excellent prospects.

However, never forget that this job is entirely oriented to sales and the goal of buying is to sell again

A fashion buyer’s job is not only to create new styles, but also to study market trends and consumer psychology to decide which products to sell at what time, where, how many and for what price. This means that becoming a fashion buyer requires a lot of passion, but also the right preparation, which can be acquired through specialised courses. After that, starting your own family business is probably the best way to gain industry experience and it will give you an opportunity to create something as iconic as Colette’s. If you want to be paid for shopping, this is definitely your dream job!


Haley Shen
Social Media Manager, Shanghai
Federica Camurati
Alumna, Editor