Alabama is home to small group of salaried fashion designers, possibly hundreds of independent designers, more than 1,000 visual merchandisers, and hundreds of shopping venues. One of Alabama’s largest cities, Huntsville, is the birthplace of Alabama Fashion Week. Other cities such as Birmingham, Montgomery, and Mobile also host regular fashion events. Across the state, you’ll discover hundreds of malls from Bel Air Mall in Mobile (over 130 stores) to Riverchase Galleria in Hoover (over 200 stores). Although attractive shopping malls can be found throughout the state, Birmingham is the retail giant of Alabama.
Alabama is also home to a number of schools that offer fashion design and fashion merchandising programs. They can be found across the state from Montgomery to Auburn. These programs can help you develop the technical and creative skills needed to make it in the fashion industry, whether you decide to start a career in Alabama, Florida, or Louisiana.
Career Opportunities & Employers in Alabama:
Alabama fashion designers can be found working all over the state, especially if they work in textiles. Textiles and/or apparel plants are located in 65 of the states 67 counties. Roughly 71,900 employees work in the textile industry here, and some are fashion designers. Outside of the textile industry, most Alabama fashion designers live in principle cities such as Birmingham, Montgomery, Mobile, Huntsville, and Tuscaloosa. Alabama fashion designers may also work in apparel design, pattern making, sample design, retail, consulting, or administrative sales.
Fashion merchandisers may have many opportunities in Alabama thanks to the high number of retail shops, department stores, and malls. They may find work as buyers, visual merchandisers, store managers, account managers, display directors, or fashion show coordinators, to name a few. Visit just about any city in the state, and you’ll find a number of malls, retail shops, and retail headquarters that may be looking for fashion merchandisers.
Alabama Fashion Schools & Programs:
The National Association of Schools of Art and Design accredits approximately 300 postsecondary institutions with programs in art and design. These schools typically award degrees in fashion design, fashion merchandising, and fashion management and some are located in Alabama. Alabama schools that offer fashion degrees are:
- Alabama A&M, Huntsville
- Auburn University, Auburn
- Trenholm State Technical college, Montgomery
- University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa
To begin training for a career in fashion design or fashion merchandising, enroll in a fashion design, apparel design, fashion merchandising or apparel design & textiles degree program. If you are interested starting your own line, studio, or boutique, consider combining your fashion design or fashion merchandising degree with a business or marketing degree. Fortunately, most traditional colleges also offer degrees in business or marketing.
For more information about the fashion design and fashion merchandising industries, visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics at Bls.gov.
Employment and Salary Trends for Alabama:
Alabama is home to around 40 salaried fashion designers. These designers earn an average of $47,400 per year. As of May 2008, the mean annual wage for fashion designers nationwide was $61,160. The lowest paid fashion designers earned an average annual salary of $32,150 and the highest paid fashion designers earned $124,780 per year. Because many fashion designers are self-employed, salaries may vary greatly. A top fashion designer can earn several million dollars a year.
As of July 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics had not reported employment and salary figures for fashion merchandisers, but a significant part of the job involves working with window and store displays. There are 1,550 merchandise displayers living in Alabama today, up from 1,380 2006.
Overall employment in the fashion industry is expected to grow by one percent for the 2008-2018 decade. Sewing and cutting jobs may decline as more designers and brands choose manufacturing companies overseas. However, employment of fashion designers is stable because many firms prefer to keep design work in house.
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