If you’re looking for a fashion sourcing agent in China to assist with your monthly purchase, and are wondering what type of agent would be a good match for you, agent with fashion buyers passionate not only about the design side but also business side might be exactly what you are searching for.
What’s a fashion buyer?
A fashion buyer is a professional shopper with knowledge in fashion trends and business to purchase apparel and fashion accessories for clothing companies. In the demanding role, apparel buyers need to be constantly trend-spotting, having a strong business sense to choose hot selling clothing items for maximum profits and the ability to negotiate better prices with suppliers.
What it’s like to be a fashion buyer in China?
Today we were lucky to hang out with Monica, a fashion buyer with six years of experience acquiring fashion products in Guangzhou. Monica has been making fashion purchases everyday for her clients scattering around China, from western Chongqing to northern part of Shenyang.
It’s not easy to take a demanding role as a wholesale market oriented fashion buyer in Guangzhou as Monica has to get up super early at 6:00-7:00 am and head to Shisanhang every morning. While we were wondering around the market, Monica seem to be quite acquainted with almost every shop, bartering with the sales.
Insider’s view about Shi San Hang clothes market
A name needs no introduction, Shisanhang is hailed as the landmark of fashion wholesale markets in Guangzhou. The neighborhood of Shi san hang consists of several huge wholesale markets and streets housing a significant number of fashion shops.
The 1st to 3rd floors on Xin Zhong Guo building are dedicated to cheap clothes and some of them can also be found in Sha He Clothes Wholesale Market at cheaper rates. Of course, there are also some stores with their own styles that are frequently updated. It is only few days since Monica visited some shops and this time we found many new designs springing up. The best part about these stores is that you can get even two or three pieces of clothes at wholesale prices.
The 4th floor is clothes showroom with office. Most of the stores would not exhibit their latest styles of clothes there, fearing that they would be copied. A boss that Monica used to buy clothes from told us that usually the new styles would send to their old customers and they would be put on exhibition after a trial sale of one or two weeks. The minimum purchase quantity of clothes on the 4th floor is 5 pieces, 10 pieces, 15 pieces, etc.
The 4th to 6th floors mainly offers woven clothes, while the 7th to 9th floors have lots of new styles of clothes with frequent updates。
The 10th floor to the above floors are offices for some big brands.
After a stroll around Xinzhongguo wholesale market, we took a seat at a cafe nearby, and chatted with Monica about the ins and outs of her job, and how her day-to-day life was.
How would you describe your job in three words as a fashion buyer in Guangzhou?
Trend driven, business oriented, and a good negotiator.
What’s life like as an apparel buyer in China?
Being an apparel buyer in China is not as glamorous as supposed to be. A fashion buyer would usually conjure the image of a fashionable lady in the trendiest dresses, travelling around the world to attend fashion shows, shopping in fancy malls and having innumerable amount of free, trendy clothes that never repeats. However, in China it’s a completely different story.
An apparel buyer in China is mostly wholesale markets based. Everyday is different but a typical day I would spend at least half a day in Guangzhou clothes wholesale markets starting from 7: 00-8:00 am to 13:00-14:00 pm, purchasing orders clients sent for today, spotting new designs, communicating with clients, etc. At 15:00 pm to 18:00 pm, it’s time to arrange shipping. Shipping is much more tedious than it’s supposed to be as I’m also in charge of all drop shipping orders. That means sometimes I have to ship hundreds of orders per day. Before it was easy I just shipped to our client then they would ship to their customers. To shorten delivery time, now I spent several hours extra per day drop shipping to their e-commerce customers.
What makes a good fashion buyer?
A good fashion buyer manages the ecosystem of supply chain to ensure the trendiest products are in store on time for maximum profits.
A good apparel buyer is also knowledgeable about the latest fashion trends, an effective negotiator, and is always hunting for winning line.
What’s the biggest challenge of working as a fashion buyer in China?
The biggest challenge is I can’t maintain a balance between life and work. My life and work are totally mixed together. Most of our clients are small business owners, not following closely working time of 9 to 5. I used to get Wechat messages a lot at night and in the earlier morning I have to head to the wholesale markets with the purchase orders, that means at night I must have all the orders ready.
What’s the most important part in the supply chain?
Every part matters but the key point is to maintain close relationship with China clothes manufacturers. A good supplier will refer you their best sellers and latest styles, giving you an advantageous price, ensuring premium quality and reliable flow of stocks. Guangzhou is the commercial hub where people all over China or oven the world come here and purchase fashion items, and it’s not surprising some hot selling items run out quickly. If you have a good “guanxi” with the suppliers, they would set you as priority. During peak seasons, it’s not strange to come across buyers fighting for hot selling models that are quickly snapped up.