For people who interested in fashion industry,
especially for fashion buyers and designers.
What’s in a Buyer’s Mind?
An Interview with Holt Renfrew Buyer Jason Morikawa
I kept running into Jason Morikawa at various functions and thought you’d learn a lot from him. Jason is the buyer for three separate Holt Renfrew departments called Directional Designers, Designer Eveningwear and the World Design Lab. If you want to learn about a buyer’s job and what a buyer thinks, then read our Q&A.
What's your story? (e.g. What did you do before, and how did you end up here?)
After working in various capacities within the retail world, I began my career at Holt Renfrew as the manager of the World Design Lab. I had always admired the concept and area and was excited to join Canada 's leading luxury retailer. I had only been working for Holt Renfrew for about a year when I was asked to take on more responsibility as the area sales manager of contemporary womenswear and eventually the area sales manager of Designer womenswear.
At the beginning of this year, I noticed that a buyer’s position had opened up in the designer world that I love, with a specific focus on Paris collections and the World Design Lab. I jumped at the opportunity and that is how I ended up in my current role. Holt Renfrew nurtures and grows talent and now every day is like a new learning experience for me.
Please describe your job as a buyer. What do you do in a typical workday?
As a buyer, every day is different, which is one of the things that I love about being a buyer.
A typical work day can include analyzing sellthroughs by color/style/price, focusing on upcoming markets by preparing strategies, market research, communicating with vendors, planning special marketing events for clients, store visits and travel.
What do you do on a buying trip?
Buying trips are a lot of work. A typical buying trip involves attending between 3- 8 appointments in one day(depending on type and size of collections) and working through with a vendor to select merchandise. In some of my bigger collections, that means taking collections that are 150 - 250 styles in size and picking 40 - 50 styles that will hit our floor. The one fabulous thing of buying trips during fashion weeks is the opportunity to go to runway shows. It is amazing the people you see and the energy in the room. It is truly one of the perks of being a buyer.
As a buyer, what grabs your attention?
I look for collections that will fit a niche market in Canada that we have not covered and collections that have a distinct point of view. There are hundreds and thousands of designers out there, and I need to ensure that I am not buying the same thing. I want excitement and something new, but must keep in mind that it needs to make sense for the market that I am buying for.
What is the best way for a new designer to approach you about selling his or her line in your store?
There are a few things that a new designer should keep in mind when approaching a retailer:
* They should know who their target customer and lifestyle is. The more you know about your customer the better.
* Five to ten pieces does not make a collection. In a store our size, a small collection will get lost and if a customer can not find you, they can't buy.
* Only show pieces that you believe in. I recently had a designer come in, and show pieces that you could visibly tell that she did not like herself. When questioning that designer, she fully admitted that she did not like the pieces, and was just showing them because she had them. If you don’t believe in them, no one else will either.
* Have a business plan. Know what your strategy is and how you plan to grow and distribute your collection.
* Know the store you are presenting to. I always want to know where a designer sees their collection hanging in our store and who their 'neighbours' would be.
If you have one piece of advice to new designers, what would it be?
It is a challenging world out there, but I do believe if you have talent, you will succeed. Ensure that you keep talking to people in the industry and listen to what they say. Be persistent and never sacrifice quality for quantity.
Finally, be passionate.
Do you have any advice for people who want to be buyers?
Be prepared for a busy lifestyle that involves spending more time in airplanes and airports than in fashion shows. It is a great job, but again if you are not passionate about fashion, then this is definitely not the job for you.
Should they study fashion at school or should they focus on gaining retail experience?
There is no hard rule to becoming a buyer, but in my experience, doing a little of both is an asset. A person that used to work with me in the World Design Lab was able to join the corporate team because they were working in the store while studying fashion.
You sell a lot of Canadian designers. What are your thoughts on the state of Canadian fashion?
I believe there is true talent in Canada and Holt Renfrew has been a long time supporter of Canadian design talent. We do not buy product from Canadian designers just because they are Canadian. We will stock the designers because they have won the position in our assortment through their merit.
information from fashionincubator