WWD Series: Arinola Fagbemi

mars 4, 2022
Arinola Fagbemi
Buyer, Head of Partnerships & Collaborations. ALÁRA, Lagos, Nigeria

How did you become a buyer? 
I always wanted to work in fashion, my grandmother was a fabric merchant and my love of fashion started with her. I worked in different parts of the industry as an inter including showrooms, buying, sales and at a design house to have a good feel for the industry cycle. I also have a Masters in Fashion Buying from Instituto Marangoni in Paris. My first degree is in Law and I felt it was important that I have an academic understanding of the processes and structure involved in buying. There are many ways to becoming a buyer, ultimately, I think it comes down to your ability to read the market, make interpretations on what the market needs and trust your instincts. 

How has the business of buying evolved since you started? 
The biggest change has been in the increased digitalisation of the buying process. Especially post-pandemic, we’ve seen a lot of new digital solutions. The industry is pushing for a more sustainable approach which means we need to figure out ways to cut down on waste. Our mission at Alara is about ways to achieve this. It is also a more sustainable system as we now take fewer trips geared towards the greatest returns. 

What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job? 
I think the most rewarding aspect of my job is the people I get to meet. I enjoy being exposed the creative process of the designers I spend time with and figuring out how I can get that message relayed to the client through the selection I make for the store. Especially in a store like Alára that celebrates stories and experiences, I enjoy the process of understanding the people behind these products and they community that it serves. 

What advice do you give to a brand looking to attract retail attention?
Build a community that people will want to be part of. I think every brand should have a clear understanding of who their customer is, what the customer is about and how the brand fits into that customer’s life. Our clothes are an expression of who we are, the stronger your community the more attractive you are to the right retail partners. 

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