fabric sourcer

What is a Fashion Sourcer? (And How Do I Become One?)

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.

Let’s begin!

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.

Table Of Contents

What is Fashion Sourcing?

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.

What Does a Fashion Sourcer Do?

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:

what does a fashion sourcer do
  • Material Sourcing: Actively search for a wide variety of materials, including fabrics, trims, hardware, and embellishments, based on the specific requirements of designers. They explore different sources to find materials that match the desired texture, color, durability, and price point.
  • Market Research: Fashion sourcers stay updated with the latest market trends and consumer demands, ensuring the materials sourced are in line with current fashion preferences.
  • Supplier Networking: They establish and maintain relationships with various suppliers, making sure to keep a range of sourcing options for designers. 
  • Cost Negotiation: Fashion sourcers negotiate contracts and prices with suppliers to secure the best deals for fashion brands, all while ensuring high-quality materials.
  • Quality Control: They conduct inspection of raw materials to guarantee they meet the desired quality standards, request tests and assessments before finalizing any sourcing agreements.
  • Logistics Coordination: Sourcers manage the logistics of material transportation, including shipping and delivery schedules. They ensure materials reach the production facility on time to prevent delays in the manufacturing process.
  • Timely Delivery: They oversee the logistics, ensuring materials are delivered on time, meeting production deadlines for designers and fashion brands.

How Do I Get a Job in Fashion Sourcing?

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.

Fashion Sourcer Job Description

Here’s what you’ll probably bump into when looking for fashion sourcing roles:

Job Overview:

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.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Material Procurement: Source and evaluate a wide range of fabrics, trims, hardware, and accessories from various suppliers and manufacturers, ensuring they meet quality standards and production requirements.
  • Supplier Management: Establish and maintain relationships with domestic and international suppliers. Negotiate contracts, prices, and delivery schedules to secure favorable terms for the fashion company.
  • Trend Analysis: Stay abreast of fashion trends, emerging materials, and innovative sourcing techniques. Analyze market demands and incorporate trend insights into material sourcing strategy.
  • Quality Control: Conduct rigorous quality checks on received materials. Collaborate with quality assurance teams to ensure materials meet established standards and specifications.
  • Cost Optimization: Monitor material costs and identify opportunities for cost savings without compromising quality. Negotiate competitive rates with suppliers to optimize production expenses.
  • Sustainability and Ethical Sourcing: Research and implement ethical sustainable sourcing practices. Identify eco-friendly materials and suppliers committed to ethical labor practices.
  • Collaboration: Work closely with design, production, and merchandising teams to understand product requirements and shorten lead times when necessary to meet production schedules.
  • Documentation: Maintain detailed records of supplier contracts, material specifications, and procurement processes. Generate reports to track sourcing metrics and performance.


  • Bachelor’s degree in Fashion Merchandising, Supply Chain Management, Business, or related field (preferred).
  • Proven experience in fashion sourcing, with a deep understanding of fabric typesproduction processes, and market trends.
  • Strong negotiation skills and the ability to build and maintain relationships with suppliers.
  • Excellent analytical and problem-solving abilities.
  • Knowledge of sustainable and ethical sourcing practices.
  • Proficiency in MS Office Suite and sourcing software/tools.
  • Exceptional attention to detail and organizational skills.
  • Effective communication and interpersonal skills

How Much Does a Fashion Sourcing Agent Make?

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.

Freelance Opportunities in Fashion Sourcing

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.

Jay Arbetman, the owner of The Sourcing District, in this podcast, we tackle fabric sourcing for freelance clients.

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.

So, you see, freelance fashion sourcing is far from impossible, and almost every role in fashion (including fashion designtechnical design, etc.) can be done freelance remotely.

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.

©2008-2023 SuccessfulFashionDesigner.com

Heads Up: We use cookies to customize your experience and track how you interact with our site to serve you better.    OK     more info