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Albuquerque Fashion Careers: Employment & Salary Trends, Career Options, & Training Programs for Fashion Designers and Merchandisers

Written by FS StaffDecember 1, 2011

The Albuquerque Fashion Scene

Albuquerque is the largest city in New Mexico. It is home to more than half a million people and one of the region’s fastest growing fashion and retail industries. The city has its own Fashion Week, which showcases designs by established and emerging New Mexico artists and it also holds the Albuquerque Fiber Arts Fiesta each year, which features 76 vendors, multiple fashion shows, and guild and vendor demos. Santa Fe Community College and other regional schools also hold fashion shows regularly here.

In addition to multiple fashion events, Albuquerque is home to one of the largest collections of boutiques and specialty shops in the state. To find the latest styles, in an upscale environment, locals head to ABQ Uptown. Located at the intersection of Uptown Boulevard and Q Street, ABQ is home to retailers such as Ann Taylor, BCBG Max Azria, Eddie Bauer, Lucky Brand Jeans, Ann Taylor Loft, Williams Sonoma, and MAC Cosmetics. Other major places to shop include Historic Nob Hill, home to hundreds of retail shops, restaurants, and specialty stores, and Coronado Center—home to 150 specialty stores. 

While it’s easy to find fashions and fashion events in Albuquerque, finding fashion programs here might be challenging. Fortunately, Albuquerque is a short 65-mile drive from Santa Fe, where several schools offer fashion programs.

Albuquerque Fashion Design and Fashion Merchandising Schools and Programs

The state of New Mexico is home to only 41 schools. Around 17 are located in Albuquerque. Most of the areas fashion programs are offered at schools located in Santa Fe, Portales, and Las Cruces. Santa Fe Community College (SFCC) is a top choice because it offers a two-year program that can prepare you for transfer to a 4-year college or you can obtain an entry-level position in apparel design, textile design for product development, technical production, pattern making, sample design and construction, or costume design. The SFCC School of Art and Design offers an Associate in Applied Arts in Fashion Design, and a certificate in Fashion Design.

Albuquerque Fashion Design and Fashion Merchandising Employers

Albuquerque fashion designers may find work in apparel design, technical design, technical production, pattern making, administration sales, and retail. Fashion merchandisers work in retail, mostly, as well as promotions, buying, and visual merchandising. Employment opportunities can be found in department stores, retail shops, textile manufacturing facilities, production studios, and design studios around the city.

Fashion Design and Fashion Merchandising Careers at a Glance

As of July 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics had not reported employment or salary figures for Albuquerque fashion designers. Based on the number of retail venues, fashion events, and production facilities here, it’s safe to assume that the population of fashion designers living in Albuquerque is significant. Figures for fashion merchandisers have not been reported, but a significant part of the job involves creating window displays and managing the overall look and feel of stores. Around 150 merchandise displayer’s work in New Mexico—100 live in Albuquerque.

Nationwide, fashion designers average around $61,160. The lowest paid fashion designers average $32,150, and the highest paid salaried designers average $124,780 per year.

Employment in the fashion industry overall 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.

For more information about the fashion design and fashion merchandising industry, visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics at