Missouri is home to more than 6 million residents that spend more than 76.5 million dollars a year in the retail industry. Some of the state’s most active fashion and retail scenes are in Kansas City (population 464,000+), St. Louis (pop. 318,000+) and Springfield (pop. 162,000+). The state’s largest cities are home to numerous high-end retailers, trendy malls and hip shopping districts, and many of the state’s most unique boutiques and design shops.
Country Club Plaza is the premier shopping district in Kansas City, with retailers ranging from Armani to Urban Outfitters. Other top Kansas City shopping destinations include Oak Park Mall, which houses more than 180 specialty stores, and Legends Shopping District at Village West. The City of St. Louis has dozens of malls and shopping districts as well, but Saint Louis Galleria Mall is a local favorite. Galleria houses more than 140 stores ranging from Ann Taylor to Wet Seal.
Besides offering access to a wide variety of shopping venues, St. Louis and Kansas City host their very own Fashion Weeks, as well as dozens of other smaller events throughout the year. Both Fashion Week events attract local and international talent, and they take place several times a year. St. Louis is also home to Grand Center—the city’s arts and entertainment district, which houses more than 30 arts organizations, 12 museums and galleries, and 1,500 arts and cultural events each year, including Missouri Fashion Week.
The state of Missouri is also home to a variety of schools that offer excellent fashion programs. Most are located in the state’s top five largest cities. Just a few include the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis, Kansas City Art Institute, and Missouri State University in Springfield.
Missouri Fashion Schools
According to the latest report by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), Missouri is home to 138 Title IV degree-granting institutions. More than 420,000 students are enrolled, with thousands enrolled in the state’s top art and design schools.
Scroll through the list below to find out which Missouri schools are tops for aspiring fashion designers and what they have to offer.
Stephens College - Degrees Offered: B.F.A. Fashion Design and Product Development, B.F.A Fashion Communication, B.S. Fashion Marketing and Management, B.A. Apparel Studies
University of Missouri - Degrees Offered: B.S. Apparel Marketing and Merchandising, B.S. Apparel Product Development, B.S. International Apparel Marketing and Merchandising, B.S. International Apparel Product Development, Minor in Textile and Apparel Management
Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) - Degrees Offered: B.F.A. Fiber with coursework in Jacquard Weaving, Costume Design, Textile Design and Fashion Knitwear, B.F.A. Illustration
Missouri State University – Degrees Offered: B.S. Fashion Merchandising and Design. Two-Year and Three-Year programs are available.
Lindenwood University – Degrees Offered: B.A. Fashion Design, B.F.A. Fashion Design, B.A. Retail Management, Minor in Fashion Design, Minor in Retail Management
Fontbonne University - Degrees Offered: B.F.A. Fashion Merchandising
Stevens Institute of Business & Arts - Degrees Offered: B.A. Retail Management/Fashion Merchandising, A.A.S. Retail Management/Fashion Merchandising, B.A./A.A.S. Interior Design
Washington University - Degrees Offered: B.F.A. Fashion Design
Webster University - Degrees Offered: B.F.A. Costume Design, B.F.A. Costume Construction, B.F.A. Wig and Makeup Design
University of Central Missouri - Degrees Offered: B.S. Fashion: Textiles and Clothing in Business, B.F.A. Interior Design
More Programs to Consider:
Employment and Salary Trends for Missouri Fashion Designers
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2013), Missouri is home to 120 salaried fashion designers, averaging an impressive $70,990 per year. In 2006, the state was home to 110 salaried fashion designers averaging $67,370 per year. It is important to note that many fashion designers are self-employed, so Missouri likely has a much higher population of working designers than reported by the Bureau. Further, the states independent designers may earn much more or less than the state average. A top fashion designer can earn hundreds of thousands of dollars up to millions per year.
Another area that might be of interest to aspiring fashion designers is the merchandise display industry. Missouri is home to around 900 merchandise displayers, averaging $25,630 per year. In 2006, the state was home to 860 displayers averaging $25,360 per year. Some of the best opportunities for merchandise displayers can be found at department stores, clothing stores and boutiques, and in advertising and public relations.
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.
Even better is, the Bureau projects a 10.4 percent increase in employment for fashion designers nationwide 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.
If you’re looking for the most lucrative opportunities in fashion, start with Missouri’s large cities first and work your way down. The Badger State is home to five cities with a population over 100,000 (Kansas City, St. Louis, Springfield, Independence, and Columbia), and four cities with a population over 60,000. Many these cities are located near the state’s largest cities. They include Lee's Summit (less than 20 miles from Kansas City and Independence), O'Fallon (just 30 miles from St. Louis), St. Joseph (48 miles or so from Kansas City and Independence), and St. Charles (around 19 miles from St. Louis).