Anyone who wants to become a textile buyer typically will need an appreciation for linens, cottons, wools, and other fabrics. Since buying is a competitive field that requires strong communication and negotiation skills as well as a talent for mathematical and financial analysis, a degree in marketing, business, finance, or merchandising usually is recommended. A more general undergraduate degree should still give you the opportunity to gain experience through an internship, an apprenticeship, or a position as an assistant buyer, trainee, or clerk. The degree combined with professional experience in the field should help you become a textile buyer.
Depending on the size of the establishment, a buyer can be responsible for one line or for a smaller shop's entire inventory. For someone who wants to become a textile buyer, there are many areas that can be pursued, including purchasing raw goods from a manufacturer, buying finished products from a manufacturer or wholesale distributor, or direct purchase from cottage industries and individual craftspeople. A textile buyer will often select a category of home furnishings known as soft goods, which are the bedding, rugs, and fabric window treatments that end up in boutiques, catalogs, and department stores.
It usually is the responsibility of any buyer to negotiate the best deal for the company, which means the highest quality at the lowest price from a supplier that is reliable and supportive of the retailer's reputation and profit margins. Because buyers choose what products a retailer or catalog company will sell, they must be able to predict the appeal of their choices. While much of the work of a buyer involves keeping track of past inventory levels, sales records, and the competition, anticipating buying patterns by watching merchandising and retail trends as well as the general economy is integral to making accurate forecasts that will determine their choices.
In order to become a textile buyer who is successful, you will likely need to keep abreast of developments in the field. This means you will likely subscribe to trade journals and industry publications, attend trade shows and craft fairs, and participate in the continuing education courses that are offered by many retailers, colleges, and universities. An appreciation of the creativity inherent in textile design combined with the analytical thinking required to get these fabrics and home furnishings from production to the buying public typically is what it takes to become a textile buyer.