Francesca Rees - Buyer - Designer Bridge, Eveningwear and Lingerie

Describe a typical day in the life of a Fashion Buyer?

During the buying season, whether in Paris, Milan, New York or Copenhagen, a typical day consists of multiple buying appointments all over the city; making selections, scheduling walk throughs of brands we think would be a good fit and if the calendar permits, attending fashion shows and maybe even getting to meet fashion royalty along the way! When we’re not travelling, a typical office day can consist of anything from liaising with brands, reviewing sales data, negotiating terms, planning the next season, to catch ups with stores and meetings with other internal functions such as online, marketing, social media.  

How do you identify emerging fashion trends before they become mainstream?

Working with a wide number of brands and viewing their latest collections on and off the runway, you start to notice consistencies, be it with colours or silhouettes. After we’ve finalised market, we get together as a buying team and highlight what we’ve seen. We’re working on our SS24 pre presentation currently where we present the trends so watch this space!

What are the latest trends in the fashion industry?

For AW23, red is definitely the colour of the season. We also saw a lot of gothic details - the Wednesday Addams effect – think full black looks, leather and lace. In stark contrast, silhouettes of refined simplicity - suiting, longline trenches and long column denim skirts featured heavily on the runways. Micro trend wise there was a lot of metallic and velvet fabrics, and trousers with double waistlines.

What is your current go to outfit/items of clothing?

Anyone who knows me knows I wear exclusively black, no matter the weather, no exceptions. That’s why I tend to invest in items that are adaptable and work into my current wardrobe.

What brands stand out for you and which ones would you recommend for HN staff to look out for?

The most recent collection from Vince I saw in June was one of the strongest I’ve seen from them. It had a beautiful grey colour palette so would look out for that delivering in November. Norma Kamali is also one of my favourite brands; wearable, versatile, suitable for a broad range of customers and we’ll be launching that in October.

How do you decide which brands to work with?

Some are observational finds where it’s simply through social media channels, talk of the town, runway shows, who’s been seen wearing what? etc. The more traditional, but no less important way is through visiting multi brand showrooms, such as Arddun Agency or Rainbowwave, and trade shows, such as CIFF or Revolver. You may be even approached by a brand directly; this is often an emerging brand and could also lead to exclusivity. Harvey Nichols has a history of championing emerging designers and I believe strongly that this is part of our DNA. As much as we may find a brand interesting or exciting, it fundamentally has to offer us a point of complimentary difference across the departments’ offering.  

What factors do you consider when selecting which styles to carry in store and online platform?

Ideally online would showcase all options we’re able to carry in stores, however, sometimes colours just don’t translate as well online - as realised when we spent the majority of Covid buying virtually - there were some surprises once received in store! We also have to consider the fixtures in stores, ensuring the rail heights allow the brands to be presented in the best way possible.  

What fashion shows or events are you looking forward to attending in the future?

3.1 Phillip Lim is returning to New York Fashion Week for the first time since before Covid so I’m particularly excited for that.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

It’s a difficult question as there are so many things I find rewarding and the role is so varied; but for me, the most enjoyable element of my job is building positive working relationships. The opportunity to work with brands on special projects is especially fulfilling and seeing the Alice + Olivia Terrace Takeover on 5th Floor in Knightsbridge come to fruition was a highlight of 2023. So many different parts of the business had to align to deliver that project and it was great to see it manifest so positively. 

Describe your perfect day outside of work?

It would start with an early morning walk around Victoria Park with my dog Ozzy (he’s a Brussels Griffon), followed by a Reformer Pilates class and a visit to Blank Street Coffee in Shoreditch. My boyfriend is an artist, so we usually end up at a gallery on a Saturday afternoon followed by dinner and drinks with our friends in the evening.