top of page

Hiring Leaders in Fashion and Retail - Secrets of the Recruitment Process

Fashion is known for being a fast-paced, competitive and exciting industry to work in.

And, if a business wants to succeed, hiring effective, game changing talent into leadership roles is absolutely essential.

However, due to the nature of the industry, it can be difficult to find the individuals with all the skill and talent needed to drive growth.

So, to help you, we’ve enlisted the help of our team of expert fashion recruiters, with a huge amount of experience in placing executive level team members into fashion and retail organisations.

Keep reading to discover our top tips on how to make the recruitment process as efficient and successful as possible.

hiring a leader for fashion and retail

What does a fashion and retail leader do?

If you’re going through the hiring process for a leadership position in your fashion organisation, it’s always a good idea to outline the roles and responsibilities of the person you’re looking for.

Not only will this help you to filter out the best candidates from those who might not meet your standard, it’ll help those applying to ensure they’re applying for the right job too, cutting down your chances of ending up with a bad hire and reducing the time you spend sifting through inappropriate candidates.

For more information on what we look for as specialist executive fashion recruiters, take a look below.

Trend Forecasting and Merchandising: An executive hire in the fashion and retail industry must keep abreast of fashion trends, consumer preferences, and market demands. They’re responsible for selecting and sourcing products that align with current trends while maintaining the brand's identity and positioning, so they need to be a step ahead when it comes to trend forecasting.

Brand Development and Marketing: Developing a strong brand identity and marketing strategy is essential experience for any successful exec in the fashion and retail sector. The leader must have overseen marketing campaigns, advertising efforts, and brand promotions to effectively reach the target audience and drive sales.

Inventory Management: Managing inventory levels, optimising stock turnover, and minimising excess inventory is critical in the fashion and retail business. The potential candidate should have a keen understanding of supply chain dynamics and demand forecasting to ensure a well-managed inventory system.

Sales and Customer Service: The leader must ensure the sales team delivers exceptional customer service and maximises sales opportunities. They should foster a collaborative customer-centric culture that builds brand loyalty and fosters positive relationships with customers.

E-commerce and Digital Strategy: In the digital age, e-commerce is a crucial aspect of the fashion and retail industry. The leader must develop and implement an effective online strategy, including managing the company's website, online marketing, and user experience.

Financial Management: Overseeing financial aspects such as budgeting, cost control, and financial reporting is vital for the financial health of the fashion and retail company.

Supplier and Vendor Relations: Maintaining positive relationships with suppliers, manufacturers, and vendors is crucial for timely product delivery, quality control, and negotiation of favourable terms.

Talent Acquisition and Development: Hiring and nurturing talented individuals who align with the company's vision and values is vital for organisational success. The leader should invest in employee development and foster a positive work culture.

Risk Management and Compliance: The fashion and retail industry is subject to various risks, including supply chain disruptions, changing consumer preferences, and legal compliance issues. The leader should be proactive in identifying and mitigating potential risks.

The Importance of Experience and Expertise:

The level of experience and expertise within the fashion and retail industry is highly important for any executive hire.

As with any industry, the fashion world comes with its own challenges and unique set of demands. And, with this in mind, it’s really important your leaders are familiar with what’s needed to run a successful fashion and retail business.

Here’s our top must-haves we look out for as fashion headhunters.

Industry Knowledge: Fashion and retail are dynamic and highly competitive industries with unique challenges. Experienced leaders have a comprehensive understanding of industry trends, consumer behaviour, and the competitive landscape, which enables them to make informed decisions.

Trend Awareness: Fashion trends evolve rapidly, and understanding the nuances of style and design is crucial for product selection and merchandising. Experienced leaders can accurately identify upcoming trends and capitalise on market opportunities.

Supplier and Vendor Networks: Years of experience in the industry allow leaders to build strong relationships with suppliers and vendors. This network can lead to better pricing, timely deliveries, and access to exclusive products.

Crisis Management: The fashion and retail industry can face unforeseen challenges, such as supply chain disruptions or economic downturns. Leaders with experience can navigate these crises more effectively, ensuring business continuity.

Customer Insights: Insights into consumer preferences and purchasing behaviours is critical to a fashion and retail business, and is something a reliable leader will’ve built up over time. This knowledge allows them to tailor products and marketing strategies to meet customer demands effectively.

Negotiation Skills: A leader with the right experience levels will have honed their negotiation skills over time, enabling them to secure favourable deals with suppliers, vendors, and partners.

Decision-Making Confidence: Experienced leaders will have encountered various scenarios and challenges, which enhances their decision-making confidence and acuity. They can draw from past experiences to make well-calculated choices.

Adaptability and Innovation: While experience is essential, the fashion and retail industry also require adaptability and openness to innovation. Any leader in this industry needs to be an individual who is willing to continually learn and embrace technological advancements that can drive business growth.

What are the challenges to fashion recruitment?

As such a fast-moving, dynamic industry, fashion and retail has its own set of unique challenges that can make it difficult to hire to leadership positions.

Even as experienced fashion recruiters, we’ve seen some industry challenges that make it difficult to find that next game changing executive hire. However, by being aware of these challenges, you can look to combat them.

Let’s take a closer look.

Talent Shortage: The fashion and retail industry is highly competitive, and there’s often a shortage of qualified and experienced candidates for leadership roles. This shortage is exacerbated by the increasing demand for specialised skills, especially in areas like e-commerce, digital marketing, and supply chain management.

Diversity and Inclusion: In the past, the fashion and retail industry has faced criticism for its lack of diversity and inclusion in leadership positions. When recruiting to executive roles in this industry, processes like diversity mapping can be extremely useful in promoting diversity to ensure a varied and inclusive perspective within the organisation.

Fast-Paced Environment: The fashion and retail industry is fast-paced and constantly evolving, with trends changing rapidly. Being able to adapt to these dynamic conditions and drive innovation is a skill set in its own right, and finding the right person who possesses this can be a challenge.

Skillset Evolution: The skills required for leadership positions in the fashion and retail industry are evolving rapidly. As the industry becomes more digitised and technology-driven, leaders must possess a blend of traditional retail expertise and knowledge of emerging technologies in order to drive progress.

Man and woman working as leaders in fashion

How can a fashion headhunter help?

If you’re facing any of the challenges we’ve outlined above, you may be looking at seeking the support of a fashion recruiter.

This can be a great opportunity to actively search out highly qualified individuals who might not be searching for a new role currently, match your criteria with a very specific set of skills and experience measures, and take a more proactive approach to finding your next leadership hire.

Often, a simple advertisement just simply isn’t enough to get your opportunity under the noses of the best candidates available. Here’s how a specialised fashion recruiter can deliver better, more effective results.

  • Extensive Network: Specialised fashion and retail search consultants have a vast network of contacts within the fashion and retail industry, including executives and top tier hires who may not actively be seeking new opportunities.

  • Candidate Identification and Screening: Executive search consultants conduct comprehensive candidate searches, using both active and passive recruitment strategies that have been carefully developed over time. They carefully screen potential candidates, evaluating their qualifications, hard and soft skills, leadership capabilities, cultural fit, and alignment with the company's vision

  • Market Insights: Any reliable executive search consultant will stay up-to-date with market trends, salary benchmarks, and industry best practices. In fact, here at SPS International, we offer market mapping services to allow you to offer candidates the very best compensation packages in the industry, and attract top talent.

  • Streamlined Process: Executive search consultants manage the entire recruitment process for you, from candidate identification to interview coordination and negotiation support. This streamlines the hiring process, saving you time and resources.

  • International Reach: Here at SPS International, we may be based in London but we specialise in working with candidates and organisations from all over the world. This broadens our candidate pool and helps us find the best talent, regardless of geographical boundaries.

  • Cultural Fit: Fashion and retail companies often have unique organisational cultures. Our executive search consultants work closely with the company to understand its values and culture, ensuring that potential candidates align with these core principles.

If you think you could benefit from the expertise and services of proven executive search consultants, get in touch with SPS International today.


bottom of page