7 things in her bag: Fashion buyer Melanie Keys

7 things in her bag: Fashion buyer Melanie Keys
Melanie Keys

To raise the profile of the annual Blueprint tradeshow, the organisers brought an experienced fashion buyer, Melanie Keys, on board.

The annual fashion tradeshow, spearheaded by the Textile and Fashion Federation of Singapore, is now on and open to the public for a shopping event this weekend.

As Blueprint's head of buyer and designer relations with 15 years of experience, the American was responsible for the selection of brands at this year's event at the Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre.

There are close to 70 womenswear, menswear and accessory brands from around the world on show.

Participating local labels include fashion brand Pleatation, jewellery label Joanne L. and swimwear brand K.BLU.

Others to note are Taiwanese womenswear label Sophia Wu and German womenswear brand On Trust, which Ms Keys highlighted for their modern minimalist take on fashion.

Explaining the significant drop in the number of exhibitors from previous years, when about 200 brands would take part annually, Ms Keys says the team was deliberately selective this year.

"We really focused on quality and curating the show. It's one thing to pick great products, but how you present them is equally important," says Ms Keys, who moved to Singapore last year as head of the South-east Asia womenswear buying team at online e-tailer Zalora.

She joined Blueprint in January this year. She has also worked as a buyer for American retailers Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy's.

The self-professed shopaholic, who is in her 30s, says that she stumbled into fashion buying.

She was taking courses with an eye to a medical degree, but in her third year of undergraduate studies, she took a fashion merchandising elective programme that sparked her interest in the fashion business and steered her off her pre-medical course.

"I was always considered pretty bright, but when I got to my pre-med courses, I realised that I didn't have the discipline required," says Ms Keys, who is single.

She graduated with a degree from Ohio State University's human ecology department, which housed the fashion merchandising programme, and was set on her career path.

"The best part of the job is seeing the sheer joy on people's faces when they purchase something that I selected for the store. It's an amazing feeling that never gets old."

This article was first published on May 15, 2015.
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