11 years ago by

Here you go, as promised, even if it’s a few months late, the career interview with Kate Foley. She’s a buyer for Opening Ceremony. I’m sure you’ve already heard about the OC (that’s how you gotta call it). It’s THE boutique here in New York.

What I think is so amazing about these shops is how unique their spirit is. You feel like it’s up to the brim with creativity and their traveling less traveled roads. Amazing collaborations (a famous one with Chloé Sevigny), a new book, and a pop-up store in London… It doesn’t stop!

Okay, so how do you become a buyer for Opening Ceremony?

What’s your official title?

What did you study in school? Where did you study?
While I was still at high school, I interned for a stylist who advised me that if styling was what I was passionate about then I should start assisting a stylist, rather than go on to do a degree in styling.

But I went on to Camberwell College of Arts in London to do a foundation degree. I specialized in fashion design but I actually only stayed there for a semester. I got a full-time job offer to assist the stylist Charlotte Stockdale in my first year and I was like: Oh, I don’t know, what makes sense, staying here or taking the job? And it kind of made more sense for me to leave school.

How did you get your foot in the fashion industry door?
When I was in school, during holidays and stuff, I always interned for stylists as much as possible. Just helping out where I could and learning. That really helped me.

Can you tell me about your path from school to Opening Ceremony?
When I left school, I was assisting Charlotte and I went to work for her for two years. After that I worked for a different stylist- Mary Fellowes-just doing freelance projects for a year before she was made fashion director of Turkish Vogue. I assisted her there and stayed until after the launch.

How did you know you wanted to be a buyer?
It was really a spontaneous decision to become a buyer. It got to the point where I’d been styling for a while and always thought it was what I wanted to do. Although it still interests me and is definitely not something I’d rule out, I think I felt that it was time to try my hand at something new and see what worked for me.

How did Opening Ceremony happen?
Buying was interesting to me, so I decided to apply for a couple of places; and I really wanted to come to the States to be in New York. I applied to Opening Ceremony. At the time, they had one buyer doing everything, which was crazy. They were looking for someone, so it just happened. I was really lucky. I was in the right place at the right time.

As a buyer, what exactly is your job?
There’s definitely a misconception that it’s a glamorous job and you go to shows, you get to pick the clothes, and it’s all cool. That’s a tiny percentage of what we do. It’s mainly auditing sales and doing orders. You have to know Excel super well. It’s a lot of admin, a lot of emails. You get like 400 emails a day back and forth. It’s really hard work.

What was the biggest hurdle you faced when you started?
I think it was getting to know the business side. There was so much that I didn’t understand that I felt I should have understood because everybody else seemed to know it. I have always been one of these people that like to get things done. And if I don’t really get something, I might not say so. It’s a flaw of mine and I’ll just keep on going and I’ll let it slide.

Of course I made mistakes, and it took me a while to thoroughly understand lots of things but I think that’s the best way. You have to make mistakes to learn and being thrown in at the deep end meant I had to learn fast.

Can you tell me about how the British sense of style is different from New York?
People say that Londoners are a lot freer and a lot more fun. Maybe because I work at Opening Ceremony and that’s what we are about, I would say that it’s not that different.

Has Opening Ceremony changed your personal style?
In London I was a lot more color-concerned, I wore a lot more black. I don’t know if it’s because I moved here but I am taking more risks. Now, I am definitely a lot more playful and fun. Now, I barely ever wear black.

Do you have a dress code at the office?
No, definitely not. Some days I go in dressed nicely, but generally most days I’m wearing colorful pants and Nike sneakers and a t-shirt. It’s fun because you can just do whatever you want.

How big is your team?
In New York, we have 3 buyers. And our interns.

What’s an average day like for you?
A typical day depends on what time of the year is. If we are in market week [when the buyers see the collections and write their orders for the upcoming season], we literally have appointments back-to-back, then we manage to escape back to the office, and try to get some orders done, then go back out. When it’s quieter, in between those market times, it’s about the inventory; making small orders or reorders, going back and forth with designers, trying to keep track of what’s going on.

And what’s your role during fashion week?
In New York, we go to every show of the brands we carry. And maybe to those that are new or that we’re interested in.

When we are in Paris, it’s literally back-to-back appointments for ten days running around like crazy, wearing sneakers and looking pretty scruffy. In Paris, I am really lucky if I can go to one or two shows. There just isn’t the time to see everything as well as the huge number of showrooms we have to get to.

Where do you find your inspiration for your buys?
I am inspired by life, things on the street, this cool girl that’s wearing an outfit that’s not high-end, it’s not designer. And different cultures; it’s so interesting for me to be in different countries. We don’t really concentrate on buying into trends. I think that that’s not really an Opening Ceremony thing. I think the way we do things is very spontaneous. It feels maybe a little disorganized but in a kind of fun and exciting way. I think that it’ll be sad if we ever lose that.

Who is the Opening Ceremony girl?
The opening Ceremony girl is the girl that is open to anything.

Where do you look for new designers?
We go to a huge number of appointments and there’s a lot to see; you try to see as much as possible. When we are in Paris, I definitely take time to try to pop into different showrooms. We have a huge number of applications of stuff sent in. It’s amazing but it’s so hard to take time to go through everything. In an ideal world, I would love to sit down and look at everything. We do what we can.

Do you think e-commerce influences the way you buy?
It’s definitely a factor in the industry in a massive, massive way. For us, there are very few collections that we buy specifically for our web store. Everything online is what we bought for the stores. But you do have to be aware in terms of shipping charges, and different markups.

Do you buy for stores in different cities?
Our team buys for the US stores at the moment, and the London store now [their London pop-up opened July 19th]. Japan has a separate buying team but we work closely with them. We generally try to keep the same kind of merchandise. We want our customers to be able to go to the New York store and see the stuff and then they go over to LA and nothing is left out.

What have been a few of your best sellers?
The Opening Ceremony collection always does pretty well. It’s so easy and so fun.

There’s a brand called Marques’Almeida, which is one of my absolute favorites. We saw it in the London showrooms and in Paris and were like, “Oh my God!” We were dying to have it. We were one of the first two stores in the world to pick up that collection, and we loved it so much and we were hoping everyone else would. But we weren’t really sure. It was a little bit of a risk.

I remember I went into the store and I only saw a couple of pieces and thought maybe it was merchandised in another part of the store because there was so little out. Then I spoke to one of the managers and she said, “Actually, we sold out!”

What’s your favorite part of the job?
I love talking to the designers and going back and forth, just working with them to try and help them. Especially the young guys, it is so rewarding when something goes well. When they come to us and they are so new and innocent in a way. And we always say we are here to help you, to work with you, we want you to have a fantastic sell-through. I think that is really it, helping people create their brand. It’s rewarding and that’s how it is day-to-day.

Is there a brand you feel you’ve helped in particular?
Marques’Alemeida was one of those. They really worked with us on things like pricing.

What’s the most difficult part of your job?
I think it’s just really keeping track of everything. It’s so hard because we have 450 designers!

What do you do to relax and unwind?
I try to do nothing to do with work or fashion. I love to get out of the city whenever I can which I actually manage nearly every weekend. It makes such a huge difference to be in the country and to be able to switch off.

Have you had a mentor? What was their best advice?
Carol [Song], definitely. She’s taught me a lot and she’s fantastic to learn from–she explains everything. She’s very, very patient.

And it’s super interesting working with Humberto and Carol. It’s interesting to see that dynamic and see the way they do things.

For advice, the general thing is go with your instinct.

Do you remember your first day in the office? What was it like?
I remember it was snowing and coming from London I thought: Okay, I don’t think anyone goes to work, because in London if it snows nobody goes to work. But in New York they do! I had a little wake-up call; I was like, “Oh, shit, you know, it’s different here.”

How so?
One thing I really love about New York is I feel that people are more positive and are more receptive and interested in what you’re doing. It’s hard to put your finger on it and I think that may be an American thing, but I feel people are more open to giving you a chance here which to me is incredibly important.

What are the qualities or qualifications you look for in a new buyer?
It’s funny, because I am going to say exactly what I never had. We really look for is someone who is definitely incredibly proficient in Excel. I’ve always found that any interns or staff who come from a business background, they get it. It’s just being able to have an understanding. It’s important to have someone that’s organized. Someone that’s open, and interested and if you are excited, if you are passionate you can do the rest of the stuff, it’s easy.

What’s an average entry-level salary?
Expect to start with a very basic salary and work very hard for it!

Do you have any advice for aspiring buyers?
If you are young, intern with as many people as you can. Make the most out of any free time that you have. I feel like that’s one thing that I did do and that really helped me. Even working in a store–half of the sales associates have knowledge that I still don’t really have. All of that stuff really, really helps.

Check out the other career posts:

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Career Girl: Mathilde Thomas, Founder, Caudalie
Career Girl: Preia Narendra, Press Director, 3.1 Phillip Lim


Add yours
  • ah ah, quand on n’est pas ds le milieu de la mode, on fait tout pour y participer (blog par exemple) dans son temps libre, et quand on est dedans, on fait qqchose qui a tout sauf à voir avec la mode! classique… et logique! Tout le monde cherche à s’évader de son job à un moment ou un autre, en somme.

  • Great interview because she draws attention to the very admin and excel-based aspect of fashion buying. Many people think it’s a glamorous job, but it reaaally isn’t! I got some experience as an assistant buyer in London before starting my company, and spent my days on excel and emailing factories. It was great to learn a few things, but it quickly became repetitive.

    Elisa – Wandering Minds fashion

  • I love the interview. People seem so honoust wih you. They tell you it’s not all glamour and glitter, but what it’s really about! Very interesting :-) Espescially liked the part where she said that you have to make the best of your free time, ’cause that’s so true! And the fact that she quit school, it obviously doesn’t mean your not a hard worker when you quit school.

    The White Studio

  • Evidemment, son parcours fait rêver … ceci dit, le métier d’acheteur n’est pas facile , beaucoup de stress , de pression et j’imagine que ces aspects là sont probablement exacerbés aux Etats Unis …

  • Son conseil est le meilleur du monde!!! même si c’est pas pour devenir acheteur.
    Quoi qu’on fasse ça nous servira un jour, même si on se dit que ce devait être une erreur de parcourt.
    Et je sais de quoi elle parle moi c’est: couturier, aide de la petite enfance, aide soignant, designer, chef d’entreprise pour la suite on verra.




  • c’est très intéressant mais on ne sait toujours pas comment atterrir en stage chez une styliste ( je suppose qu’elle parle d’une styliste photo/ edito mode) même pour être assistante…
    C’est tout là le sujet… Pour ma part, j’ai retourné ciel et terre et impossible de savoir… à moins d’être connectée…

    Merci Garance ; )xxx

  • I like her style!!! nice interview


  • Like her long blond hair and her honesty about the job “It’s a lot of admin, a lot of emails”.
    But it sounds as she has lot of fun in her job.


  • j’ai moi aussi apprécié l’honnêteté de cette phrase qui montre le revers de tous ces jobs qui peuvent paraître super glamour de prime abord et des fois faire oublier tout le travail de petite fourmi qui se cache derrière!
    un peu comme ton travail, garance : tu nous fais ttes rêver mais je n’ose pas imaginer tt le travail pour aboutir à cette petite partie de l’iceberg émergée que l’ont peu lire ts les jours sur ton blog!

    Super interview et super photo!

  • Beau rapport ! C’est drôle parce que ça vient juste de me réconforter après une crise de panique sur ce que j’aimerais faire plus tard.


  • One of my favorite featured on this blog! She is inspiring and so realistic!

  • J’aime l’honnetete de cette interview. Pour un job qui semble glamour en surface, il faut beaucoup, beaucoup de travail. C’est comme tout, lorsqu’on est passionne, on accepte “the package.”

  • Encore une interview très intéressante, merci Garance !

  • Très interessant cette “itw career”, je ne connaissais pas bien ce metier, et effectivement je m’en faisais une fausse idée, genre les defilés, les journée dans les showroom à dire “ça, ça, non pas ça, ça peut-être, etc” et bien non, il y a toujours un aspect chiant dans tout les boulots, là si j’ai compris c’est “excel”!
    moi aussi j’espere faire ma place dans la mode, surtout vintage, merci pour ces conseils.

  • i love your career posts– they always make me want to switch careers. it makes sense that a buyer would have to know the business side really well. i’ve always wondered about how all this comes together in terms of legal stuff. is there is a law firm that does most of the fashion law stuff out there in ny? we only seem glimpsese of it (like the YSL/Louboutin fight over the red soles). i’d love to see a post about fashion law.

  • Top cet interview et en ce moment j’en ai bien besoin !J’adorerais faire pareil!


  • Merci…

  • This is an excellent article! I agree that buying isn’t everything that people imagine it to be. Buying designer accessories is only a small part of my job, but it is definitely my favorite!

  • Je ne devrais pas être en train de lire ce blog et, encore mois, de commenter… Mais je ne résiste pas au plaisir de partager mon admiration pour Kate, son parcours et cette rubrique!
    Pour nous Français qui sommes obsédés par les diplômes, c’est en plus un encouragement à ne pas être limités par les schémas réducteurs!
    Et, pour moi, en tant que créatrice,.. C’est passionnant et encourageant!
    Bref, merci Garance (une fois de plus)!

  • Everyday..i never know what you will show on your blog..it’s great..like xmas all year round.

    I also loved her honesty about the job…yes..it’s lots of hard work….but if one loves their job…it’s easy and exciting.

  • LOVE this! Considering that being a buyer for a store like the OC is basically my dream job, this post was incredibly exciting for me to read. Sounds like she has solid advice for young’uns just starting out too, but what about those of us who are a little bit more, ahem, mature? And are looking for a shift in careers? I always worry that either I will be interning alongside 16 year-olds or I simply won’t even be considered.


  • Great interview! I love that she literally worked her way up, no formal education and still made it. It says a lot about passion and drive.


  • I think OC has great pieces….i just don’t like how they r displayed especially the first floor…..too dark and shoved together….I go there for T Alexander Wang that floor is bright and very easy to shop..

  • This girl has fabulous tatoos!

    And on a side note, my issue of W arrived yesterday and you were in it for the Net-A-Porter ad! WOO HOO! It was exciting to see in in print rather than online!

  • C’est très intéressant ces interviews, j’aimerai beaucoup avoir l’interview carrière de Lara Melchior :)

  • I particularly liked this career interview because it gave me the feeling that if you try hard you can get wherever you want. I am trying to find my way and, I have to admit, I feel lost most of the time. I have an MA in graphic design but it’s just not what I want to do and what Kate career shows is that the degree is not everything. I find it inspiring, so thank you for the story.

  • Very nice interview, fashion buying is very interesting and yes people tend to forget there is a lot of administrative tasks… The OC team is very nice to work with!


  • I looved it ? !!

  • Une interview captivante. Un métier à cent à l’heure, de la pression et du sérieux…
    Bref, évidemment, les paillettes restent à la surface de l’eau. Elle est comme les petits canards que nous sommes tous : avec nos petites pattes, nous moulinons pour avancer, malgré les apparences ! En l’occurrence, elle ne soit pas avoir beaucoup de temps pour elle dans la semaine.
    Merci pour cette joli lecture,

  • I think she’s great girl, smart and very lucky like she says :)



  • C’est super ce témoignage pour les jeunes qui rêvent de ce métier. Avoir une passion et y croire, ne pas avoir peu d’aller de l’avant et un petit brin de chance (qu’il reste à savoir provoquer) et hop !!! Je retourne à mon travail moi… mais c’est toujours agréable de faire une pause par ici !

  • Love the questions that you asked. I think that everyone wants to buyer but the same mantra keeps coming up with getting any job is: “You have to work hard for it!” I definitely want to get into the fashion industry and I think that interning would be a great start like she did because for me it’s one of those jobs I would do for free, since most internships are unpaid. Thanks for doing this interview gives me some inpirations and ideas!

  • great candid interview.

  • Lovely interview and all though you’ve got to do many more than just visit shows en pick out clothes it seriously sounds like a dream job!


  • C’est intéressant le topic carrière, mais je me languis d’un article présentant des femmes qui travaillent dans des milieux beaucoup moins glamour, voire masculin comme dans la Finance ou dans le monde scientifique, où assumer sa féminité nous coûte parfois notre crédibilité qu’on doit ensuite se racheter.

  • j’aime beaucoup son tatouage sur le bras ! très élégant et discret, qu’est ce que c’est exactement ?
    j’aime aussi beaucoup ce type d’article, et comme Iris, je pense que ça pourrait être très interessant de lire des articles sur des femmes d’autres milieux, comme par exemple le milieu des ingénieurs, univers ou il faut du caractère pour se faire respecter en tant que femme ! Ou il n’est pas toujours facile d’assumer sa féminité face à un parterre d’hommes, face à des ouvriers, etc …
    En tant qu’étudiante dans une école d’ingénieur, c’est quelque chose qui m’interesserait beaucoup !

  • J’aime énormément ces portraits! En effet, pour être en train de faire moi même mes premiers pas dans la mode, tout est concours de circonstances au départ, c’est très excitant :)

    Merci merci merci pour ces petites perles d’inspiration!

    Très belle soirée,
    – Lionel

  • Really interesting interview!


  • Ce serait combien un salaire de base?

  • Merci pour cette interview! J’ai adoré la lire

    Bisous bisous

  • she is amazing and gives some wonderful advice. i was totally naive when i took my first job in the industry and thought that it would fill my life with glamour and shows and clothes but i ended up with numbers and spreadsheets and an unrelenting attachment to excel! it’s so nice to hear someone be so frank about the business side of fashion!


  • Another brilliant Q & A – thanks for bringing these stories to us, I am a couple years out of college and doing something i love but to do it forever…? Not sure. It’s not enough to even say it’s a relief to see people who also hesitated, or were inexperienced at something, become experts, happy with their position. HALLELUJAH! is usually what i think after reading the career posts.

    Can’t wait for the youtube version of one ;)

  • A very interesting interview! These “career” posts are my favourite!

    Love, Ana

  • what an interesting interview of a very talented woman! it is always great to see another who has excelled to such a excellent degree. opening ceremony is such a multifaceted company that is growing tremendously.
    xx, http://wordbyjessie.com/

  • What does “basic salary” even mean? $25k a year? I wish she was a little more specific.

  • I love, love, love that she talked about the work of the buyer; nobody ever thinks about the ‘Excel’ part, a lot of the time buying jobs are made to look like it’s all shopping, all the time. You have to be able to ‘balance the checkbook’ if you are going to be successful. Great interview!

  • Interesting and down to earth interview. Funny I remember in high school all the popular girls wanted to go to F.I.T. to become buyers. I bet none of them are. Anything that your are passionate about takes a lot of hard work. But if you love it, it is generally worth it.

  • Great interview. I always enjoy this section of your blog. It’s just the right mix of fun, fashion and practical advice. Would love to see an Career feature on Alexandra Popa of Bordelle. Great, fierce lingerie and an interesting start-up story to boot. Thanks again for posting this piece….

  • I love your career-posts, they’re so inspiring!

  • Ce sujet m’a particulièrement touché! (même si tous les posts sont absoluments géniaux!) Merci pour cette interview, une réelle inspiration qui m’a motivée à bloc… la partie sur Excel m’a fait sourire… je me suis offerte une formation pour le maitriser plus rapidement, et je me dis que j’ai bien fait !
    Merci encore Garance :)

  • Acheteur(euse) = reporting = chiffres = excel = multiplier par = diviser par = x = inconnu = marge brute = TVA = TVA inversée = grosses migraines

  • J’aime beaucoup ta série career car elle permet de comprendre ce que ce sont certains métiers de la mode. De voir tout le temps écrit “buyer” ou “acheteur” c’est bien beau mais ça n’aide pas plus que ça. Je me doutais bien que le métier du buyer avait un lien avec acheter ahaha mais je n’en connaissais pas les coulisses. Grâce à cette interview tu as éclairé ma lanterne et je t’en remercie. J’attends avec impatience les autres interview career :).

    Shug’A’Very d’Incognito


  • Je me permet ce premier commentaire pour te dire un grand MERCI. En tant que junior dans le métier je connais les contraintes dont parle Kate. Peu de personnes savent réellement en quoi consiste la fonction d’acheteur, ton interview la reflète parfaitement! Ceci étant, cela reste un métier de passion et la fierté de voir sa collection en magasin suffit souvent pour oublier la tonne d’administratif ainsi que les heures de stress et de doute passées à tout mettre au point.

    Merci Garance, de nous faire partager ces belles rencontres, c’est très motivant!

  • Merci pour le poste. It’s great to hear from the the Buyer’s perspective. I am an Indie Designer and have been trying to get OC to look at my line. Would love an introduction with Kate.

  • LOVE this interview- i am just starting my buying career and every point kate makes about emails and re-orders and excel is spot-on! so refreshing to see someone so grounded and honest! xoxo


  • Thanks, Garance. I LOVE the career posts. As with your entire blog, its just so inspiring to see the great things people do. I remember YEARS ago I got turned on to a British magazine called Red because they used to do something similar with what people did for a living. Oh, how I used to love that magazine.

  • Vraiment un interview très enrichissant qui me donne pleins d’ouvertures pour ma carrière future…

    Théa Unknown

  • Milles mercis Garance , car cet article est juste ce dont j’avais besoin pour avancer , en ce moment je ne poste plus trop sur ton blog (je sais pas si tu as remarqué) et bien c’est p-c-q je n’ai plus d’ordi , je viens juste de commencer ma vie étudiante et l’ordi ne faisais pas parti des priorités , mais bon le 29 octobre c’est mon anniversaire du coût j’espère en avoir un , enfin bref il se trouve que je suis passionnée par la mode comme je l’ai dit des millions de fois sur ton blog mais va savoir pourquoi j’ai choisi de faire un DUT carrières juridiques (oui le droit c’est chiant et les gens manque en général d’originalité dans leur choix vestimentaire) mais là cet article m’a rebousté , lundi je vais commencer à chercher un stage , arrêter de mettre mes rêves de côtées pour faire plaisir à la famille , car c’est plus rassurant de dire je veux devenir clerc de notaire plutôt que styliste mais c’est certainement pas mes parents qui vivent le frustration l’ennuie , le manque dépanouïssement , je crois que dans la vie il faut se lancer et ce ne sont pas tes posts et ton parcours qui disent le contraire :)

    Sinon tu étais magnifique au Grand Journal , et je rêve de réussir à faire les tresses que tu avais <3

    Merci Garance Doré (j'ai les larmes aux yeux <3)

  • Hello,
    I love your page so much….:)
    I NEED to interview a buyer for my fashion merchandising class (I am an aspiring fashion buyer) and I was wondering if you have a contact number of her or anyone you know that is a buyer? please shoot me an email. Thank you so much.
    Myaye Soe :)

  • You know Garance I think this is one of my favorite career path. I like Kate Foley for a variety of things but first of all I think she has that mysterious look in her face, her eyes that make a woman very alluring. thank you!

  • I find it interesting that she has no background in buying and got a buying job!? The owner must have thought her a lot!

  • I’m 17 and I’m figuring out future plans :). I’m glad that there is a article here on buyers! This is perfect because I want to become a buyer and Opening Ceremony is my favorite store! So fun. Thanks!

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