WWD Series: George Fountas

March 7, 2022
George Fountas
Vice President & General Merchandise Manager of RTW, Outerwear, Swim, IA and Little BG. Bergdorf Goodman, United States.

How did you become a buyer?
I did not take a direct route to get to where I am today, but it ended up being a good route for me. 
I studied Political Science with a focus on Public Policy at George Washington University in Washington, DC but instead of going to Law School as planned, I turned a part-time sales job into a retail career.  
I started in store management and transitioned over to an executive development program where I received proper training in buying and planning. I progressed through several steps in my career to be where I am today, the VP/GMM of ready-to-wear, coats, swim, intimate apparel and children’s for Bergdorf Goodman. I always had a love of fashion and once I figured out how to turn that interest into a career, I knew I was on the right path. 

How has the business of buying evolved since you started? 
When I started as an assistant buyer, I was taking showroom photos with a Polaroid and faxing orders – but that was a short-lived part of my experience as everything was starting to become digital. Social media was not a part of the job and influencers did not exist as they do today. 
The idea of a virtual appointment, which became the norm during the pandemic, was not even thought of. Despite those changes, the essentials of the job have remained the same: nurturing relationships and business partnerships, analyzing performance and trends, developing strategies and, above all else, selecting the best product. 

What do you appreciate most in your work? 
I am in fashion because I love product but the most rewarding part of my job is the people. I love nurturing and developing my team; strategizing with our brand partners, and discovering new talent to be carried at the store. 

What’s the best advice you’d give a brand to attract retail attention?
Product first – think about how you might be filling a void, making sure your collection has an element that feels unique and has a reason to be. 
Second, be organized and reliable. Proper strategies for merchandising, pricing, production and shipping all go a long way to achieve lasting success. 
Don’t try to be everything to everyone – be authentic to yourself and your brand.

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