Steph Hazell, NZ and Australia womenswear buyer for Superdry. Image supplied.
Buying clothes for a living certainly sounds like a lot of fun but it’s also a serious business. Streetwear brand Superdry recently opened their first New Zealand store on Auckland’s Queen Street and womenswear buyer Steph Hazell was part of the team making sure the brand’s winter collection was appealing to Kiwi women. Superdry has enjoyed great popularity here since they first started selling into NZ a decade ago but their first stand-alone store offers the chance for New Zealanders to enjoy the full Superdry range in one place.
Her work for Superdry takes her all over the world and we were keen to find out from Steph exactly what being a buyer involves, how she got into it and what the key trends are for this season?
Can you tell us what your job as a buyer involves and how you got into it?
Every day is different and the role is very varied. Lots of people think that buying is very glamorous, but there are many hours spent analysing numbers on spreadsheets or unpacking boxes! In buying you are the link between ordering stock from the supplier and getting the right stock in the right store in the right time, so that does mean understanding numbers as much as understanding the commerciality of the clothes. Ultimately when you are spending the companies money you have to be confident that you have spent it right!
I got in to buying after working in the industry for quite a while. I actually studied Costume Design so have a background in understanding garment construction but I needed experience in business. I have worked in roles in Production Support in the past, moving in to Buying Assistant, and also in Sales. All of these steps along the way provided an understanding from each different area that you work with when buying.
What are the key womenswear trends for this season that we’ll find at Superdry?
You’ll find some great pastel colours that are matched back with preppy nautical sport influences. Think branded taping, tipped elastic detail and bold applique branding in lilac, sky blue and navy with red hits.
Looks from Superdry’s Winter 2019 collection.
How would you describe the Superdry shopper and what is she looking for from the brand?
She is after high quality products at an affordable price point while still looking good. These days, most fashion brands that are out there have to compromise on quality to get stock at the right price point or to get them quicker to market. Having high quality fabrics and trims is core to everything that we buy and sell in the range, and is relatively rare for a streetwear or lifestyle brand like ours to have. When our customers are buying a new jacket or jumper from Superdry for the season, they know that it will last, it will get them through the weather and it will be comfortable.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received that you keep referring back to as a buyer?
You’re not always the customer! Just because you like or don’t like something doesn’t mean that that’s how the customer feels and you have to make commercial decisions, not biased ones.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Definitely the ability to travel in my role. I get to go to London twice a year to see the new range and work with the Superdry head office teams, which while it’s a perk it is also very important for our relationships with the teams we work with there. Also, we’re always visiting our stores, which means travelling around Australia (and now New Zealand!) to go check out the stores and our teams there a few times a year.
Looks from Superdry’s Winter 2019 collection.
What is your all-time favourite purchase?
My black leather Superdry jacket that I wear anywhere and everywhere and with everything!
What wardrobe item should everyone invest in?
Definitely one of our Colour Block Overhead jackets and a Portland tee. The jacket is on trend while also being wind and spray proof, and the t shirt is super soft and comfy to wear, made from brushed organic cotton. I think we all need to place more value on the more on things that we use often – jackets, good quality basics, jeans – rather than the things we only rarely wear. My motto is there is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing!
Looking to the future, how far ahead do you plan and what makes you excited about the future?
Because we’re in the southern hemisphere and where we are seasonally compared to the rest of the world, we plan and buy our stock out 12 months in advance. I am really excited for the future of fabric innovation and the developments there that are happening globally around recycling and waste reduction in fabrics and the garment production process. Superdry too have some great fabric innovations coming for future seasons too with recycled products and waterproofing.