Geographically Speaking

When people think of the fashion industry, they probably consider New York City (NYC) as the epicenter. Los Angeles would follow. It is not a requirement for fashion designers to live and work in these areas. However, those who are committed to succeeding in the business should consider that there are a higher number of jobs in the nation’s fashion centers.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics confirms that NYC-Jersey City does employ the highest number of fashion designers. Their May 2017 data report that there were 6,500 working in fashion in NYC followed by Los Angeles, a distant second, with 4,340. No other cities come close to these figures. Anaheim-Santa Barbara-Irvine, California, is third with 710 employed in the profession.

Another statistic bears witness to NYC and LA as being the top spots in fashion. The BLS reports on the occupation’s location quotient. The location quotient is the ratio of the area concentration of occupational employment (ex. fashion design) to the national average concentration. A location quotient greater than one indicates the occupation has a higher share of employment than average. The quotient for NYC and LA is 7.73 and 7.31 respectively. This translates to a high concentration of fashion designers in comparison to all other occupations. In third place is San Francisco-Redwood City with a quotient of 3.76. However, the area only employs a total 560 in fashion.

Career Choices

You can use your degree in several careers related to fashion. A partial list consists of:

  • Artists and Sketchers – sketch new designs
  • Cutters – cut out patterns or fabrics either by hand or using computerized machines
  • Set and Exhibit Designers – create sets or exhibits for fashion shows or trade shows
  • Spec and Fit Technicians – produce samples with special attention to fit
  • Specialty Designers – design and work on items that require special production techniques
  • Trend Researchers – gather data about the fashion market to help designers plan their collections

Another branch of fashion is in merchandising. If your degree included marketing and business courses, you could consider fashion merchandising. The job requires a blend of fashion sense and business expertise. Staying ahead of the fashion curve is a feat involving both art and science. Strategy and marketing are an integral part of fashion merchandising. The job also involves a forecasting element. You will need a thorough knowledge of historical fashion trends and an awareness of current industry developments.

Fashion marketing is a career possibility for those interested in the business side of fashion. You would have to decide prior to your degree selection to find a program concentrated on marketing/merchandising. Some programs have courses devoted to both at the Associate and Bachelor’s degree levels. Marketing courses explore consumer insights, positioning, and competitive advantage from both a theoretical and practical approach. Students analyze and identify target markets and become aware of key marketing decisions as they develop a global marketing plan for a fashion company.

Have you thought of using your degree as a fashion stylist? You could be working with celebrity clients to styling models for photo shoots. This career provides exciting opportunities to share your passion for style while working with a variety of people and venues. Fashion stylists also use their talents in music videos, TV advertisements, magazine ads, TV shows, and movies. A stylist needs to have the knowledge of fashion trends, color schemes, and designer labels. Artistic skills, creative design, fashion history, marketing, and understanding face and body shapes are all assets for the fashion stylist.

Individuals with a flair for writing and fashion may want to consider a career in fashion journalism. This will require additional training in journalism which might be provided by a fashion design school in bachelor’s or master’s level courses. If not, electives in journalism or a dual major might be considered. This job entails reporting on fashion trends and news in newspapers, magazines, and on the web.

Ways to Prepare for your Career

The BLS projected in 2016 that the fashion designer occupation would grow at a rate of only 3% through 2026. This is a change in only 600 jobs out of 23,800 employed in the profession (2016). Therefore, you need to prepare for success by following the expert advice. One way is through apprenticeships and internships. Obtaining industry experience is an important step in starting your fashion design career. Both of these have the double advantage of building your resume while giving you the opportunity to learn from an experienced fashion designer. There is a lot of competition in the industry, so having an inside track with someone in the business can give you a boost over other applicants. One place to start is for postings of the current fashion internships.

Additional Resources

What Classes will I take in a Bachelor’s Degree in Fashion Design?

Where can I use my Degree in Fashion Design?

What is the Difference between a Degree in Fashion Design and Furniture Design?