Florida is home to one of the top U.S. cities for fashion—Miami. No other city has a greater influence in the swimwear industry and “The Magic City” is even listed at number 13 on the list of Fashion Capitals of the World. Miami also hosts Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Swim as well as its own festive Fashion week, which highlights the best emerging and established designers from Australia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and more.
And let’s not forget about the Miami Design District, which is home to art galleries, design studios, event venues, as well as entertainment and luxury brands such as Christian Louboutin, Dior, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Emilio Pucci, and more. Miami is also home to Project Runway Latin America.
Miami isn’t the only fashion star in the Sunshine State. Jacksonville hosts its own Fashion Week and you will find coveted shops such as Tory Burch and Michael Kors in Tampa. Head to Orlando where you’ll find The International Academy of Design & Technology (IADT), which hosts the highly anticipated IMAGINE Fashion Show each year, or go to Miami Beach/South Beach (home of the late Gianni Versace), where you’ll find shops such as Escada, Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, and Versace, of course.
If Florida sounds like it might be a great place to launch your fashion career, you’re in luck. In addition to housing some of the world’s most extraordinary designer studios and luxury boutiques, the state is home to some of the nation’s best fashion schools. Just a few include Florida State University and Miami International University of Art & Design (an Art Institutes (Ai) school).
Florida Fashion Schools
Florida is home to 223 Title IV degree-granting institutions (2013 IES figures) with more than 745,000 full and part-time students enrolled. Thousands are enrolled in the state’s top design schools alone. Scroll through the list below to find out which Florida schools are tops for aspiring fashion designers and fashion merchandisers, and what they have to offer.
The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale – Degrees Offered: A.S. Fashion Design, B.S. Fashion Design, B.S. Fashion Merchandising, Fashion Retailing Diploma
The Art Institute of Jacksonville – Degrees Offered: B.A. Fashion & Retail Management, Fashion Retailing Diploma, B.F.A. Interior Design
Johnson & Wales University – Degrees Offered: B.S. Fashion Merchandising & Retail Marketing with concentrations in Textiles, The Business of Fashion, Visual Merchandising, Apparel Quality Analysis, Fashion Forecasting
Miami International University of Art & Design - Degrees Offered: A.A. Fashion Design, Fashion Merchandising, Accessory Design; B.A. Fashion Merchandising, B.F.A. Fashion Design, Interior Design; Fashion Retailing Diploma, MFA Interior Design
Florida State University – Degrees Offered: B.S. Retail Merchandising and Product Development (RMPD), M.S. Clothing, Textiles, and Merchandising with a major in Global Merchandising and Product Development, Graduate Certificate Retail Merchandising
The Art Institute of Tampa – Degrees Offered: B.A. Fashion & Retail Management, Fashion Retailing Diploma, B.F.A. Interior Design
More Programs to Consider:
Employment and Salary Trends for Florida Fashion Designers
According to the most recent report by Bureau of Labor Statistics (April 3, 2013), Florida is home to 170 salaried fashion designers, down from 310 in 2011. Although employment of salaried designers is down, salaries are on the rise. In 2006, Florida-based fashion designers averaged $59,190. Today the average salary is $65,740.
The good news is, the Bureau projects a 10.4 percent increase in employment for fashion designers overall for the 2010-2020 decade. Average salaries are on the rise as well. In 2006, the annual mean wage for fashion designers nationwide was $69,270. An early 2013 news release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the average mean wage for fashion designers today is $72,620 per year.
It is important to keep in mind that many fashion designers are self-employed—especially in the state of Florida. However, the Bureau does not collect data for these individuals. That said, self-employed designers might earn much less or much more than the national average. Some of nation’s top designers earn anywhere from the high six figures to tens of millions of dollars.
Another area that might be of interest to aspiring fashion designers and fashion merchandisers is the merchandise display industry. The U.S. is home to 73,490 salaried merchandise displayers, up from 62,580 in 2006. They earn an average mean annual salary of $28,860, up from $26,550 in 2006. The highest paid merchandise displayers earn an average salary of $43,940 yearly and the lowest paid displayers average $17,940 per year.
Although the population “dipped and recovered” between 2006 and today, Florida still has a rather large community of merchandise displayers. The state was home to 2,730 merchandise displayers in 2006 averaging $24,260 per year. In 2009, the state was home to 2,490 displayers. Today, Florida is home to 2,700 salaried merchandise displayers, earning an average salary of $28,590 per year. Some of the best opportunities for merchandise displayers can be found in department stores, in advertising, public relations and related services, and in clothing stores.
Aspiring Florida-based fashion designers can find lucrative opportunities in many cities throughout the state. However, some of the top cities for fashion jobs are Miami, Miami Beach, Jacksonville, Tampa, Orlando, and St. Petersburg. Other major cities worth exploring include Tallahassee, Hialeah, Fort Lauderdale, Port St. Lucie, Cape Coral, and Pembroke Pines.