Despite not being one of the most popular roles in fashion – fashion sourcing has always been a key element in bringing garment designs to life.
Fashion sourcers (also known as sourcing agents or sourcing specialists) are the detectives of the fashion industry, tracking down the best materials and suppliers to meet not only the design specifications but also the apparel company’s budget.
Whether you’re looking for an exciting new career or want to level up your freelance game, I’ve got some helpful insights lined up for you about this role!
First, we’ll delve into what it means to work as a fashion sourcer and how to become one. We’ll also discuss potential earnings and freelancing opportunities in this field.
Why am I qualified to write about this stuff? In my 15 years of experience in the fashion industry, I’ve journeyed from being an in-house designer, starting my own brand (yep!), to growing my freelance career to $100,000+. Now, with all the knowledge I’ve learned along the way, I want to help fashion designers (and PDs, TDs, etc.) like you make it in the industry.
Fashion sourcing revolves around hunting down raw materials needed to accurately create garment designs all while keeping the fashion brand’s profit margins. Everything from fabrics and trims to hardware and embellishments falls under the umbrella of fashion apparel sourcing.
Sourcing doesn’t stop at finding materials though. It may also include finding suppliers and manufacturers who can deliver on time and within budget.
A fashion sourcer is essentially a matchmaker between fashion designers and suppliers. They play a crucial role in bridging the gap between creative vision and tangible products. Here’s what a fashion sourcer does:
Although having a degree related to fashion design or merchandising is advantageous – nothing beats hands-on experience when it comes to this role. Practical exposure provides a deeper understanding of the nuances of material selection, supplier negotiations, and market trends.
A solid understanding of fabrics, trims, and manufacturing processes are crucial elements too. (Just imagine talking with a designer without any idea what trims they’re referring to – recipe for disaster!)
You can look into fashion companies, sourcing agencies, or retail organizations if they’re offering internships or entry-level positions to gain hands-on experience.
Networking is also crucial in this role, as those who work in fashion sourcing need to stay connected with key persons in the supply chain.
This is why attending industry events, trade shows, and conferences to connect with other fashion professionals, suppliers, and even potential employers is really important for fashion sourcing agents.
Here’s what you’ll probably bump into when looking for fashion sourcing roles:
We are seeking a dedicated and skilled Fashion Sourcing Specialist to join our dynamic team. As a Fashion Sourcing Specialist, you will play a pivotal role in procuring high-quality materials and components for our fashion products. Your keen eye for trends, excellent negotiation skills, and industry expertise, especially in managing supply chains and collaborating with sourcing executives will be crucial in maintaining product quality and competitiveness of our offerings. If you are passionate about fashion, possess strong analytical abilities, and thrive in a fast-paced environment, we invite you to apply and contribute to our creative and innovative endeavors.
Let’s talk about the average salary working in house as a fashion sourcer, PayScale estimates that those starting out in the role may earn a figure close to $45,000 while seasoned fashion sourcing manager can earn over $80,000. Of course, this can vary depending on experience and location.
Now, let’s talk about the REAL DEAL. I’ll tell you how you can earn more as a fashion sourcing specialist and offer sourcing services to clients all over the world – without all the stress of working in house.
Freelancing in fashion sourcing means you can work with people worldwide, right from your computer. You get to choose exciting projects that match your skills and interests, giving you the freedom to grow.
If you want some more insights to freelance fashion, here are some fashion sourcing professionals I’ve interviewed over the years.
And Rachel Batterbee, who’s worked in product development and sourcing for over 25 years. In our discussion, we spill the beans about growing your freelance fashion career and how to expand your network.
With the right strategy, you can slowly ease yourself away from the 9-5 grind and enjoy work life balance at the comfort of your own home.
Ready to get started? Check out my free step-by-step guide to freelancing in fashion.