Thu 1st October

Tips on Becoming a Buyer Courtesy of htown’s Harry Fisher

Text   Dino Bonacic

Taking his past experiences and delving deep into the world of retail, Harry just opened the most exciting shopping destination in East London. And now he’s about to share the knowledge with all of us…

Launching a new business amid a pandemic might be a bold move, but there’s no one else who could pull it off if not Harry Fisher. After working very much behind the scenes and being the “emerging brand whisperer” for big retailers with his 360º agency, he decided to extend the branch of a platform sharing a name with arguably one of the biggest boybands in history. He first opened htown in 2018, just as he left the Soho shopping haven Machine-A where he worked closely with the store’s founder Stavros Karelis after meeting him at an e-com shoot for the store which Harry modelled in.

htown’s model came as an alternative to the stagnant model of sales agencies as Harry made sure he was also helping develop and support emerging brands on the commercial side of their businesses and play a connecting role between the buyer and the designer.  But the agency’s office in the heart of London’s East End (12-18, Hoxton Street) always had more potential than just a workspace and an occasional gallery that it’s been over the past two years. 

After months of refurbishment (“lockdown actually made it a bit easier,” says Harry), the space reopened a few weeks ago in its brand new form with a brand new chapter – a menswear retail destination focused on curating concise and exclusive capsules of designs courtesy of some of the most exciting labels out there, including Martine Rose, Y/Project, Mowalola, Ahluwalia, Saul Nash and more. 

htown at 12-18 Hoxton Street, London

Weaving a sense of environmental and social consciousness throughout the story, the space was not only designed through sustainable methods and materials by Christopher Melgram, but will also carry through an ongoing dedication to charitable project. The opening part is dedicated to young American photographer Drew Brown whose work is gracing the shop window and the walls of the store. htown is also selling Brown’s My Execution Might Be Televised zine which reflects on police brutality in the US through Drew’s photos of the Black Lives Matter protests.

As for the fashions, it doesn’t get more exclusive than this. Cherry-picked and specially selected to create a capsule wardrobe of cult garbs, most pieces are entirely exclusive to the store or come in special colourways only available there. And if you can’t be bothered to get your ass out of the house, you can also shop all 60 pieces online.

htown Loookbook for AW20; Photographs by Britt Lloyd

After working on both sides of sales, Harry definitely has a unique insight in what it takes to become a buyer. So in order to remove some of the mystery around this super-popular career path, we asked him to share some of the best tips for becoming a buyer. Hit it Harry! 

1. You have to be into making money.
“To be a good buyer, you have to be good with money and business-minded.” Yes, your taste is what will help you get the job, but in order to actually do your job right, a knowledge and understanding of spreadsheets, markups and all the other math skills.

2. Buying is NOT the same as shopping.
“You have to think about what other people want and not what you want.” Yes, your taste is important, but be aware that not everything you wish was in your closet will be a best-seller. You’ve got your own savings for that…

3. Learn about merchandising first.
As Harry notes, “The best buyers did merchandising at Uni.” Many of the actual buying courses are quite archaic as they were originally tailored according to the old department store system of retail. You might end up disappointed when you end up spending three years learning about buying zips and buttons, and not actual brands.

4. Developing relationships with brands from the other side can be really helpful.
“A good way of getting into the buying industry is interning or working in-house with a brand or with a sales agency or showroom – these positions aren’t as hard to come by as those directly in buying.” This is when all the friendly connections you made come in handy – just because you can’t see your ideal job from the get go, doesn’t mean you can’t get there later.

5. Know the market (and who the target customer is).
“I knew first-hand who my customers were at Machine-A, and when I was buying something, I knew exactly who those pieces were for. It was more about the daring pieces these people wanted to buy.” While this might be a bit trickier when talking about larger stores, having a clear idea of who actually buys at your favourite shopping destinations will definitely make you a more desirable candidate.

6. Stay open-minded.
“I didn’t always know I was going to open a sales agency.” Learning from Harry’s example – a modelling job can indeed turn into a buying career. Even though you might know what your desired destination is, there are more than just one way of getting there.

7. Keep an eye on what the big brands are doing.
“The big fashion houses take influence from emerging designers, but it’s their stamp of approval that shifts trends into different directions.” Knowing the whole alphabet of the most exciting new labels is as essential knowing what the latest Dior silhouette is all about (even though it might not be as exciting).

8. Patience, patience, patience!
“If you’re working for a big company, it’s really hard to move up – everyone wants to be a buyer.” Harry notes this popularity of the industry just might stem from Rachel in Friends who was one of the first pop culture characters to give an insight to this part of the industry.

9. Attention to detail is an absolute must.
“If you put just one extra zero in your order, you will end up with a 100 XLs of that Raf Simons jumper instead of just 10.” Even though you’re talking about clothes, buying is an expensive game with high stakes – be on your toes at all times.

htown is open at 12-18 Hoxton Street in the heart of London’s East End. You can also shop the selection online at htown.co.uk.

@htownstore // @htwnldn