Sylvia Dundon, Dress Buyer, Victoria’s Secret Catalog
Sylvia Dundon graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a BA in Marketing (concentration Merchandising Management) and an AAS. Buying and Merchandising in December 1998. It took two years to obtain her AAS and another three years for her BA since she was working at the Gap and Victoria’s Secret while she was attending school. She began her career as an Assistant Buyer at Victoria’s Secret Catalog and later was promoted to Associate Buyer.
9:00 AM: Check e-mail and voice mail. Prioritize who gets called back first based on what time zone they’re in.
9:30 AM: Check sales on computer — especially dress sales for the items I bought most recently. If the catalog just dropped (that is, was sent out), wait a few days for the sales to hit. Work with the planner. (“At Victoria’s Secret, the planner is the buyer’s partner. The planner executes the actual purchase order, financial planning, stock models, and markdowns.”)
10:30 AM: Decide how to allocate five pages of the catalog. For example, how many dresses should I feature per page? Do I think I’ll sell more dresses with three per page or should I focus on one large picture of a single dress? I have to justify my decisions to management and work with merchandise manager. Some of my decisions are based on what sold in the catalog last year.
11:30 AM: Sample fitting. Go to the fit room and work with your technical specialist and fit model. The fit model tries on samples and we make sure the garment is the right specifications and fit. If the garment is not correct, we send our corrections to the vendor. A sample garment usually goes through one to three rounds of corrections.
12:00 PM: Layout and film review. I go visit the Creative Department and look at a layout of our catalog. The point is to review the actual photography and layout (for colors). If the color of the garment is wrong, I cut a swatch from the garment as a sample so the Creative Dept. can fix the photo to match. If the skirt in the photo is too long, they can fix the length, too. If everything looks great, I just approve the layout.
12:45 PM: Run out to buy a sandwich so I can eat at my desk and check voice mail.
2:00 p.m.:Roll out my sample rack. Send out samples for a photo shoot. Work with in-house model for shoot samples to make sure they fit and look right according to Victoria’s Secret standards.
3:00 PM: Meet a few vendors. I cut a few fabric swatches for product development. Sometimes I go out into the market or vendor showrooms to look at their lines. If I really like something, I will ask them to send samples for me the next day.
4:00 PM: Go to a fashion forecast meeting. This meeting includes both the fashion and design departments and is intended to make sure that we’re all aware of the trends and direction that Victoria’s Secret wants to take that season. Even though we’re buying different categories (dresses, shirts, etc.), we all want to have the same mindset. I also see slide shows of samples bought in Europe. All the buyers get to see the main themes for the season — which include a color palette and the general trends.
6:00 PM: Address production issues. Approve a button or lab dip. The lap dip is the color intended for production. Quite often, the manufacturer hasn’t produced the correct color, so I have to ask them to do another lab dip.
7:00 PM: Address the e-mails I didn’t get to during the day. Go home!