WWD Series: Victoria Dartigues

mars 1, 2022
Victoria Dartigues, Merchandising director fashion & accessories, Samaritaine DFS France. Paris, France. credit photo Asia Typek

How did you become a buyer? 
I studied economics and marketing in Montreal. While I was still student, I used to work as shop assistant in a designer boutique in the Old Town. One day, the owner took me with her to a designer showroom to do the buying: it was the revelation of the job I wanted to do later.  I’d always had a creative side, but I also had a business side to me, so what I wanted was a job where both could be combined – it was this one!

After Montreal, I came back in France and applied for the Master of Management at the Institut français de la Mode (IFM). It was at the most rewarding year of my entire school career. After IFM, I applied at all the department stores in Paris.  My internship was at Galeries Lafayette. Then the Printemps adventure started for 7 years before I joined DFS in 2019 to participate in the reopening of the Samaritaine. 

How has the business of buying evolved since you started? 
It’s a nonstop marathon, you need to be always on alert!
10 years ago, buying was concentrated on a few weeks and had specific timing.
Today the buyer is constantly on. The rhythm of collections has massively increased, with drops and capsules. I feel we are always placing new orders. 
Also with social medias, we are always scouting new designers and new talents to bring into the store, whether it’s fashion week or not. 

What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job? 
Each season is a new adventure: new trends to identify, new talents to discover, new partnership to set up.  It is an amazing blend of business strategy, creative thinking, and teamwork.
You really need to have two sides of the brain to be a buyer: the product sensibility and the intuition are keys to build a strong assortment but don’t think it’s enough. So much of the work is financial: I spend so many nights analyzing sell-through and doing a lot of data entry in Excel.
At the end, you have to conclude business deals and secure margins. Having a good eye and knowing your numbers are equally important.

What advice do you give to a brand looking to attract retail attention?
First, the final client is paramount!
We always buy with the customer top of mind. It is never about being subjective but about understanding our customer – in a department store, they are so diverse. 
When a brand knows how to respond to a specific profile, it’s always a good sign of a clear vision.

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