Costume buyer


Costume buyers work with the costume designer in order to identify the materials for the costumes. They buy and rent fabric, thread, accessories and other items needed to finish the wardrobe. Costume buyers may also purchase clothing items “off the peg”, ready made. They base their purchases on the sketches of the costume designer.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to costume buyer:

buyer of costumes
costume and composite effects buyer
costume purchaser
costumes buyer

Minimum qualifications

Bachelor’s degree is generally required to work as costume buyer. However, this requirement may differ in some countries.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Costume buyer is a Skill level 3 occupation.

Costume buyer career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to costume buyer.

set buyer
costume attendant
ICT buyer
location manager

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of costume buyer. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of costume buyer with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

post-production supervisor
production designer
ICT vendor relationship manager
purchasing manager
lighting director

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of costume buyer.

Film production process: The various development stages of making a film, such as scriptwriting, financing, shooting, editing, and distribution.
Aesthetics: Set of principles based on which something is appealing and beautiful.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of costume buyer.

Identify suppliers: Determine potential suppliers for further negotiation. Take into consideration aspects such as product quality, sustainability, local sourcing, seasonality and coverage of the area. Evaluate the likelihood of obtaining beneficial contracts and agreements with them.
Manage budgets: Plan, monitor and report on the budget.
Mark differences in colours: Identify differences between colours, such as shades of colour.
Maintain relationship with suppliers: Build a lasting and meaningful relationship with suppliers and service providers in order to establish a positive, profitable and enduring collaboration, co-operation and contract negotiation.
Analyse costume sketches: Determine which materials to buy to make or finish costumes by studying the costume sketches. Familiarise yourself with the colour scheme and style.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of costume buyer. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

Photography: Art and practice of creating aesthetically appealing images by recording light or electromagnetic radiation.
Dressmaking: The craft of sewing clothes and dresses by following a pattern. This includes the assembly of cutout clothing parts.
Fabric types: Woven, non-woven, knitted fabrics and netting fabrics, technical fabrics such as Gore-Tex and Gannex.
Film studies: The theoretical, historical, and critical approaches to films. This includes the narrative, artistic, cultural, economic, and political implications of cinema.
Lighting techniques: The characteristics of techniques used to create atmospheres and effects on camera or on stage; the equipment required and appropriate setup to use.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of costume buyer. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

Document costume stock: Keep records of the costumes held in stock. Track all relevant properties of the costumes and how they are used.
Conduct costume research: Ensure that costumes and pieces of clothing in visual artistic productions are historically correct. Conduct research and study primary sources in literature, pictures, museums, newspapers, paintings, etc.
Ensure continuity in the styling of artists: Ensure that artists are consistently styled during the production of a motion picture. Make sure that their look remains the same.
Coordinate purchasing activities: Coordinate and manage procurement and renting processes including purchasing, renting, planning, tracking and reporting in a cost efficient way on an organisational level.
Define costume materials: Define and assign costume materials and fabrics.
Carry out internet research: Execute efficient search on the internet in order to gather relevant information and share it with others.
Select costumes: Find the right costume for a certain role and actor.
Manage logistics: Create logistic framework for transporting goods to customers and for receiving returns, execute and follow up the logistics processes and guidelines.
Organise costume fittings: Organise fitting sessions for the actors and decide on the required actions. Assign the right size costume to each actor.
Manage rented goods returns: Organise the return of rented goods to the distributor.
Synthesise clothing with accessories: Purchase new or second-hand clothing and a variety of accessory items, as is needed to complete designs.
Maintain inventory of rented items: Compose and keep up-to-date inventory of all the multimedia items rented to customers.
Maintain costumes: Collect, check, maintain and repair costumes.
Check deliveries on receipt: Control that all order details are recorded, that faulty items are reported and returned and that all paperwork is received and processed, according to the purchasing procedures.

ISCO group and title

3323 – Buyers





  1. Costume buyer – ESCO
Last updated on August 8, 2022

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