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The Buyer Diaries: Stylemax January 2018

February 9, 2018

Ah, the glamorous life of a retail fashion buyer. We know you're all jealous of her job—or are at least curious about it—so we tagged along on Leslie Waterson's recent trip to the Stylemax show in Chicago to see what we could learn. (By we, I mean me, the anonymous assistant.)

The day starts with a Metra train ride into the city followed by a brisk walk to the Merchandise Mart.

See? There's the banner declaring Stylemax as supreme ruler of the Mart for two whole days.

Aww, yeah. Here comes the glam...

Our first stop is to meet with Cut Loose, a relaxed made-in-the-USA line that's all about the fabric.

Turns out, you can't just say, "I'll take everything!" The pesky budget gets in the way. So Leslie looks through it all and takes notes on styles she thinks you'll love. After market, she'll go through her notes on all the lines she's seen and make decisions. But the styles aren't even half of it. Check out all the color choices:   

She takes notes on those, too, and along with the best styles, she'll choose a color palette that's both up with current trends and in line with our customers' tastes. And here I thought stepping into my closet this morning to pick out one measly outfit was a challenge!

Then it's off to the Joules booth, a fun line from the UK (yes, that explains the yellow duck and pink sheep in the mannequin picture near the top of this post).  

After searching the racks, a Joules rep lines up Leslie's top choices so she can see how they look together. 

Besides considering style, fabric, color, and cost, timing is another factor to take into account—each item only ships out between certain dates, and we can't have everything hitting the floor at the same time, so scheduling shipments is like solving a very complex puzzle.

I don't know about you, but I need a little break. Let's take a moment to admire the cool view, shall we? 

Hey now, don't get too comfortable. We've got more work to do! After touching base with several more apparel designers and writing a few orders on the spot, it's time to look at jewelry and accessories and start solving a whole new puzzle...


I have to admit, I wondered how Leslie kept her brain from scrambling while taking in all this information and making so many decisions. Then a rep who'd met with her the previous day showed me how. Drawing and coloring! Here's what I found on the rep's paper table-covering from the day before—Leslie's master work. 

Looks like someone's eager for summer. Hey, whatever it takes to keep her buyer brain sharp and her creative energies flowing. I think you'll all agree that she does one heck of a fantastic job for The Little Traveler's Clothing Galleries season after season. Thanks, Leslie! 



P.S. Of all the things I learned at market today, my favorite lesson was this: good little anonymous assistants who don't get too much in the buyer's way sometimes get to pick out a necklace to bring into the store...

I hope you like it!


Little Traveler
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