Massachusetts is home to more than 6.6 million residents. More than 1.5 million live in the state's top ten largest cities, with 636,479 residents residing in Boston alone. Boston, as you may have already guessed, is the center of the fashion world here, thanks in large part to its size and growing population. In fact, Boston’s population is growing faster than the suburbs and faster than any urban area northeast of New Jersey. On top of this, the Huffington Post named Boston the 10th most fashionable city in America in 2012.
Boston is home to a vibrant art and culture scene too. The city is home to renowned art museums such as the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), and a number of art and design schools such as Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt), The Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University, and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. These schools and many others attract artists and designers of all kinds—including fashion designers.
Boston hosts the much talked about Boston Fashion Week and it is home hundreds of shopping venues. Just a few popular shopping venues include Newbury Street, Copley Place, Legacy Place, Natick Mall, Mall at Chestnut Hill, Wrentham Village Premium Outlets, and Kittery Outlets. And let's not forget downtown Boston, which has something for every style and budget. The downtown shopping district is home to 43-year-old Winmil Fabrics (designer fabrics and textiles), Macy's, Johnston & Murphy, H&M, and a jewelry retail center that houses more than 100 jewelry sellers.
Although most of the activity in the fashion world is in Boston, other large cities such as Lowell—the fourth largest city in MA, might be worth exploring. Lowell houses the American Textile Museum, which features regular fashion exhibitions, and Cambridge is home to one of the state’s largest shopping malls—Cambridge Side Galleria. Other principal cities worth looking into include Worcester, Springfield, New Bedford, Brockton, Quincy, Lynn, and Fall River.
Massachusetts Fashion Schools
According to the most recent report by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), Massachusetts is home to 124 Title IV degree-granting colleges and universities. This is one of the nation’s largest collections of Title IV institutions. Students can choose from traditional colleges and universities, technical schools, community colleges, and art and design schools that offer everything from certificates and associate degree programs to advanced degrees in all areas of study.
Scroll through the list below to review Massachusetts’s best options for aspiring fashion designers and what they have to offer.
Bay State College - Degrees Offered: Bachelor's Degree Fashion Merchandising, Associates Degree Fashion Design, Fashion Retail Merchandising, and Retail Business Management
Fisher College - Degrees Offered: B.S. Management with a Fashion Management or Retail Management concentration
Massachusetts College of Art and Design - Degrees Offered: B.F.A. Fashion Design, B.F.A. Fibers, B.F.A. Jewelry and Metalsmithing, Fashion Design Certificate
The New England Institute of Art – Degrees Offered: B.S. Fashion & Retail Management, B.S. Interior Design
Newbury College - Degrees Offered: B.S. Fashion Merchandising, B.S. Interior Design
Framingham State University – Degrees Offered: B.S. Fashion Design and Retailing with a concentration in Apparel Design or Merchandising, Apparel Design Minor
Lasell College - Degrees Offered: B.A. Fashion Communication and Promotion, B.A. Fashion Design and Production, B.S. Fashion and Retail Merchandising
Mount Ida College - Degrees Offered: B.S. Fashion Design, B.S. Fashion Merchandising & Marketing, B.S. Interior Design
University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth - Degrees Offered: B.F.A. Textile Design/Fiber Arts, B.F.A. Jewelry/Metals, Minor in Textile Design/Fiber Arts, Certificate in Artisanry with a focus in Textile Design/Fiber Arts or Jewelry/Metals, Minor Jewelry Metals
More Programs to Consider:
Employment and Salary Trends for Massachusetts Fashion Designers
According to the most recent report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2013) Massachusetts is home to 130 salaried fashion designers. In 2008 the state was home to 420 salaried designers and in 2006, the state was home to 660 designers. While the state saw a significant drop in the number of salaried fashion designers, the salary outlook sounds promising. In 2006, the average salary for Boston fashion designers was $59,740. In 2008, it was $50,940 and today it is $69,510.
Even better 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. A news release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics dated March 29, 2013 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 large cities like Boston. However, the Bureau does not collect data for these individuals. Self-employed designers might earn much less or much more than the national average. Some of nation’s top designers earn millions of dollars each year.
Many aspiring fashion designers often work in other related careers while developing their own lines, searching for that perfect design job, or just to get their foot in the door. A promising place to start is in 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.
Massachusetts’s merchandise display industry has been somewhat “up and down” over the years, but it is still a viable industry. In 2006, the state was home to 1,180 salaried merchandise displayers averaging $32,840 per year. In 2008, the state was home to 1,540 merchandise displayers averaging $32,030 per year. Today, Massachusetts is home to 1,210 merchandise displayers, averaging around $32,740 per year. It is important to note that Massachusetts-based merchandise displayers earn one of the nation’s highest annual salaries for this occupation.