Buyer For A Day: My Experience At Coterie

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It’s 2001, and I’m at the Penn State career fair. I’m ignoring my pending degree in Elementary Education. Today, I’m going to get a job as a BUYER. I have my navy-blue pinstripe suit on with a vest and a Victorian, high-neck blouse. (I called it my “babe suit.”) I’m the pinnacle of mall-girl, Express, millennial fashion. The recruiters for Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom are going to take one look at me, tear up my resume and scream, “YOU’RE HIRED.”

I push my way through the crowd of black Prada and Kate Spade box bags and proudly announce that I would like to be interviewed for the buyer program. After some smirks from the crowd, I can feel the interviewers evaluating my coolness. This feels like a club that I can’t get into. This feels exclusive.

As I walk home feeling bad and deflated, I reach down to feel my Claire’s silver gem necklace that I knotted to be the perfect length. The knot had slid down to the front, right next to the gem. IDIOT! HOW COULD YOU LET THIS HAPPEN, AMANDA?! THE KNOT NEEDED TO BE HIDDEN IN THE BACK OF YOUR NECK! Now they know that you faked a short necklace. THAT’s why they don’t want you. It’s the GD knot. It’s the necklace pretending to be something it’s not…with a knot. Not you.

I knew it. I was cool all along. It’s my necklace that failed. I’m back, baby. (My inflated sense of confidence would later be sorted out in therapy).

Coterie NYC Trade Show: Pretending To Be A Fashion Buyer For A Day

Fast-forward to 2022…I’m not a fashion buyer. BUT I’m someone who goes WITH a buyer to buy. It’s kind of like Assistant to the Regional Manager. But I’ll tell you this: When I’m in New York City at the Coterie event in the Javitz Center, I feel like I sit front row at the Prada show, never take off my sunglasses, and know more about cerulean blue than you ever will.

One of my best friends owns the cutest, most amazing boutique: Refinery in Phoenixville, PA. Not only does she hire me to design the window each season….

I'm playing fancy fashion buyer at the Coterie NYC trade show, & sneaky li'l spy that I am, I've got pics + deets (think: next season's clothing, style predictions).

She takes me buying with her.

And today, I’m taking you. Because, like the sneaky little spy that I am, I took pictures.

The Coterie NYC trade show is massive. Every year, brands from all over the world come for buyers to have one central expo to submit orders for the year. It’s very overwhelming.

The Coterie trade show is massive. Every year, brands from all over the world come for buyers to have 1 central place to submit orders for the year.

Literally, if you’ve seen a name on a clothing tag, they come to this event. Refinery is a mid-price boutique with brands like Blank NYC, Free People and Pistola to name a few. So going in, we had appointments with brands. And it goes like this…

For the larger brands like Z Supply, it’s a show. No, an actual show. All of the buyers sit in a long row, they get the line sheet for the season, and a rep shows you each individual piece and talks about it. Many times they refer to the clothing as “she,” and you are NOT supposed to laugh.

I mean, so I’ve heard.

At Coterie, for larger brands like Z Supply, all of the buyers sit in a long row, they get the line sheet for the season, & a rep shows you each piece & talks about it.

Can we just take a moment to give respect to buyers? They have to be confident enough to know what they need a full year in advance in terms of quantity, budget and trend forecasting. And if they get it wrong? It can cost them or their store a ton of money. That’s a lot of pressure, and I have huge respect for the profession as a whole and my girl Kelly.

Accessory buying is my favorite, because you usually got free stuff. Also? You could be like: “Hey, Kelly, are you ordering four diamond spike necklaces? Make it five and put it on my tab.” (Just kidding, B, I definitely do not do that.)

Retailer buyers at Coterie NYC have to be confident enough to know what they need a full year in advance in terms of quantity, budget & trend forecasting.

A Free People Showroom?? I Could Live In There

Now, there is one brand that you have to leave the convention center and physically go to its showroom, and that’s Free People — because of course it is.

They have it all set up like an actual Free People store, except everything is for the next season. And you really really want to buy things for yourself and try them on, but you can’t, and it’s so hard…and I’m remembering why I’m not a buyer.

At Coterie, Free People sets up its showroom like an actual store, except everything is for the next season.

Then, guys, it’s showtime. You get the whole “show” put on by a rep.

At Coterie NYC, Free People reps exhibit the clothing for the next season.

Also, don’t ask what size anything is. It’s OBVIOUSLY a sample standard XS. If you do, you’ll be shamed. Or so I’ve heard.


So…What Will Be Trending for 2023?

Now…what I love about these buying trips is selfishly seeing what is going to be cool in a year or a season or as I like to say: IN THE FUTURE. Oooh, so mystical.

1. The Barbiecore Aesthetic

As much as I don’t love it…Barbiecore is a huge hit. Man, is it here. The Young People just really love hot pink and frills.

As much as I don't like it, Barbiecore is the next big trend.

IF I find myself trying this trend, it will be in a masculine way for balance. Also, Kat recently shared a Barbiecore gift guide that could change my mind…

Shop Trending Barbiecore Styles

2. Denim Overload

A lot of denim on denim. An urban cowboy, if you will. (It’s giving serious Britney + Justin red-carpet vibes.)

Another trend prediction for 2023? Denim-on-denim outfits — urban cowboy, if you will.

Shop Trending Denim-On-Denim Styles

3-6. Other (Surprising To Me) 2023 Trend Predictions

A few other trends I noticed, however, I don’t have pictures of…

  • BUTTERFLIES. Lord in heaven, so many butterflies. I’m thinking this is the millennial thing. Don’t act like you didn’t wear those tiny hair clips too.
  • Corsets, bondage, harnesses. I don’t know man — I just report the news.
  • Maxi skirts and midi skirts, but not as much minis. I’m good with this.

Shop More 2023 Trending Styles

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So, what do you think?

I hope you enjoyed your time with me as the Reader of the Assistant to the Buyer. It’s just like you’re there. I know.

Xo,

Amanda

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After multiple existential crises, I've been an interior designer, a store window designer, a personal stylist (when I want to say something fancier than friend who went to the mall with another friend to "help"), a teacher, an author and illustrator, a graphic designer, NFT creator, a t-shirt designer and cat and Broadway enthusiast. But NOT Cats on Broadway. Just cats, the animals. What have I learned through all of my careers? You can really do a thing and then call yourself whatever you want. No one will check. But before all of this, in the year 2008, I was a blogger. And now I'm back with my favorite blog of all time. Let's go.