The array of women’s clothes, shoes and handbags at the Tangs retail stores here is acquired by fashion buyer Lynn Khoo and her team.

Ms Khoo, 37, a merchandising manager at the popular homegrown store, oversees the stores’ concept of Wardrobe Women, which covers fashion apparel, shoes, handbags, timepieces, costume jewellery and the Dressing Room or the lingerie department.

But a fashion buyer’s job is not just about glitz and glamour and buying sprees.

She says: “People always have the impression that fashion buyers have a very glamorous job because of the opportunities to travel the world and attend fashion shows. But even when you are travelling, you are constantly time-starved, having to run from appointment to appointment or showroom to showroom the entire day, and you continue working when you are back in the hotel room in order to meet the deadlines.”

She usually travels twice a year and attends a fashion show in Australia yearly. At the Rosemount Australian Fashion Week in Sydney, she sources for potential new brands and visits their showrooms to view their samples and overall branding to see if it suits Tangs.

Campaign planning

She brings back order sheets, catalogues and pictures of the samples to formulate business strategy and budget, review sales and marketing initiatives for profit and cost-effectiveness and plan major campaigns.

These include Tangs’ seasonal launches, the Tangs Sale, and the Great Singapore Sale (GSS). Then, there are also the festive campaigns during Chinese New Year and Christmas, which is also the biggest campaign of the year.

She says: “Each campaign takes us roughly six to eight months of planning to determine the overall look and direction. We then present our buys to the visual merchandising, store operations, and marketing and communications departments to create the overall theme for the entire campaign.

“For the GSS, we have merchandising meetings to decide which concept will be the highlight of the season and if new brands are needed to fit the theme.

Meeting the deadlines of product submissions for sale and advertisements are a challenge as things run on very tight deadlines in this fast-paced industry.”

Optimal choices

The toughest decisions she has to make are the editing of long-time brands that are not performing well anymore due to shifts in customers’ tastes.

She says: “We have to develop strong action plans to acquire sought-after brands for customers, or work with the brands with low sales to boost their performance.”

In the last seven years with Tangs, she has brought in Fred Perry, a sports heritage brand, and revamped the concepts for men’s and street-style fashion.

Walking around the store to check on the merchandise and layout and meetings with key business partners and staff, give her an insight into shoppers’ inclinations, especially those of women.

She says: “For Tangs Dressing Room, our customers love the luxe and sensual feel of our intimate and boudoir-styled fitting rooms as they are trying on their most intimate piece of garment. As for bags, jewellery and apparel, ladies prefer brands that are affordable, come with a wide collection of designs and those they are familiar with.”

Ms Khoo, who was promoted to her current position this year, loves “the whole process of merchandising, from the planning stage, to buying the merchandise, displaying them on the racks, and to seeing them fly off the shelves.

“Guidance from my mentor, my hunger to learn and strong passion in retail keeps me driven and has taken me to where I am,” she says.