Shopping for a living gives this fashion lover a rush
What is the most interesting aspect of your job?
Dealing with the suppliers and seeing what the brands have come up with in terms of new fashion and styles.
We have more than 100 different vendors and each one has a different personality and sales technique.
Have you always been involved in fashion and how did you get into this field?
I come from Yu goslavia where I was a teacher for 15 years. I only got into fashion buying and retail when I came to South Africa in 1993.
I was lucky to join a huge footwear retailer and paid my dues learning all about retailing, customer needs and then buying.
What is the most exciting experience you've ever had as a buyer?
I love seeing new ranges and feeling the energy of the reps when they present them to me.
Which season is your favourite season to buy for?
Definitely summer, no question. Summer has more vibrant colours, more variety and it's seldom dull.
How influenced are you by international trends and how up to date is the South African consumer?
In general at UFO we are in a unique position. Selected fashion in the high street boutiques is probably more influenced by international trends than we are.
Our consumers are savvy about and up to date with what's happening in the world. But they also know what's comfortable, stylish and good value for money.
Which items sell the best?
The active brands across the board, such as Nike, Puma and Adidas, probably sell best.
Though we stock most of the high-end formal brands such as Polo, Carducci and many more, the sports brands and weekend wear items move quickly. Particular clothing items from active wear that sell quickest are still the men's, ladies' and kids' T-shirts.
Does your own taste come into play when you buy or are you dictated to by what is available?
A little of both. First and foremost, we think about the customer. A good buyer cannot decide on what ranges to buy based solely on their own taste.
You have to ask yourself who is your consumer and what do they want? Of course, your personal taste comes into play but you are not buying for your wardrobe but for those who pay your salary.
Do you ever travel as part of your job ?
We mainly buy international brands mainly, so there is no need to travel extensively overseas since most brands have offices are in SA.
What is the most exciting place you have been to on a working trip?
Definitely Italy. It's an incredible place.
What happens to items that have not been sold?
As most retailers do, we have to mark down the stock. The trick is to try to get the buying right.
But there will always be those items that don't sell through in season. It happens.
What kind of training goes into your work as a buyer?
Buying is not an exact science. Planning and budgeting are more concrete than deciding what customers are going to spend their hard-earned money on. I would say the best training is experience. Looking at people, speaking to them and seeing what is selling through and what is not.
What is the least enjoyable part of your job?
At the end of the season, having to see what didn't work and marking down. No buyer enjoys doing that.
If there were something you could change about the way South Africans dress, what would it be?
I don't think I would change anything. South Africans are unique and dress how they feel. Why change that?
What is the best thing about working as a buyer for UFO?
I am busy and my days fly past. It is an adrenalin rush and a fast-paced, high-pressure environment. But it's very rewarding.