New York is where every aspiring fashion designer wants to be. It’s one of “Big Four” fashion capitals of the world (London, Milan, NY, Paris) and it is home to the world’s very first fashion week—now known as Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. New York City is also home to one of the largest garment districts in the country and that famous show called Project Runway. No other city in the U.S. has more to offer aspiring fashion designers than New York City.
Besides an endless number of fashion events and over-the-top shopping venues for both fashionistas and designers, NYC houses an endless number of top designer studios such as Alexander McQueen, Carolina Herrera, Diane Von Furstenberg, and Tommy Hilfiger. In addition, the state, not just New York City, is home to some of the world’s top fashion schools. In fact, the state has one of the largest collections of NASAD-accredited fashion programs in the U.S. Many are offered at schools dedicated exclusively to art and design.
Just a few of the state’s top fashion schools include Cornell University, Parsons the New School for Design (backdrop for Project Runway), the Fashion Institute of Technology, and Berkeley College.
New York Fashion Schools
Below is a list of New York’s most acclaimed fashion schools and what they have to offer.
Pratt Institute - Degrees Offered: B.F.A. Fashion Design, B.F.A. Jewelry Design
Cazenovia College - Degrees Offered: B.F.A. Fashion Design, B.F.A. Interior Design
Villa Maria College of Buffalo – Degrees Offered: B.F.A. Fashion Design and Merchandising with a Design or Merchandising track
Cornell University – Degrees Offered: B.S. Fiber Science & Apparel Design with concentrations in Apparel Design, Fashion Design Management, Fiber Science, B.S./B.F.A. Apparel Design/Art (Dual Degree); M.A. and Ph.D. Apparel Design; M.S. and Ph.D. Fiber Science; M.P.S. Human Ecology; Fiber Science Minor
Berkeley College – Degrees Offered: A.A.S. Fashion Marketing and Management, B.B.A. Fashion Marketing and Management, B.B.A., Fashion Marketing and Management with Minor in International Business, B.S. Fashion Marketing and Management, B.S., Fashion Marketing and Management with Minor in International Business
Fashion Institute of Technology - Degrees Offered: A.A.S. Fashion Design; B.F.A. Fashion Design with concentrations in Children's Wear, Intimate Apparel, Knitwear, Special Occasion, Sportswear; International B.F.A. Fashion Design with study in New York and Milan; A.A.S and B.S. Fashion Merchandising Management; B.S. International Trade and Marketing for Fashion Industries, B.F.A. Fabric Styling; A.A.S. Jewelry Design; A.A.S. and B.S. Textile Development and Marketing; A.A.S. Menswear; A.A.S. and B.F.A. Textile/Surface Design, A.A.S. and B.S. Production Management: Fashion and Related Industries; B.S. Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing; A.A.S and B.F.A. Interior Design
Lim College – Degrees Offered: A.A.S, A.O.S., B.B.A. and B.P.S. Fashion Merchandising with tracks in Apparel & Accessories or Home Fashions; B.B.A. Fashion Marketing, B.B.A. Visual Merchandising, M.P.S. Fashion Marketing, M.P.S. Fashion Merchandising and Retail Management (Beginning in Fall 2013); MBA with tracks in Fashion Management and Entrepreneurship.
Concentration options for all undergraduate majors include Cosmetics, Fashion Communications, Fashion Merchandising, Fashion Publishing, International Marketing, Retail and Merchandise Management, Styling, Visual Merchandising, Responsible Business Practices, Digital Business Strategy, Entrepreneurship, Event Planning
Parsons The New School for Design - Degrees Offered: A.A.S. and B.F.A Fashion Design, M.F.A. Fashion Design and Society, A.A.S Fashion Marketing, M.A. Fashion Studies, A.A.S., B.F.A. and M.F.A. Interior Design, Design Business Certificate, B.A./B.F.A. Dual Degree with options ranging from Entrepreneurship and Fashion History to Sustainable Design
The Art Institute of New York City – Degrees Offered: A.A.S. Fashion Design
Wood Tobe-Coburn School – Degrees Offered: A.A.S Fashion Design, A.A.S. Fashion Merchandising, Marketing, and Management; Fashion Design Diploma, Fashion Merchandising, Marketing, and Management Diploma
Marist College – Degrees Offered: B.P.S. Fashion Design, B.P.S. Fashion Merchandising; Fashion Merchandising Minor, Fashion Product Development MinorSyracuse
Syracuse University - Degrees Offered B.F.A. Fashion Design, B.F.A. Communication Design, B.F.A. Environmental and Interior Design, B.F.A. Industrial and Interaction Design
More Programs to Consider:
Employment and Salary Trends for New York Fashion Designers
Between 2004 and today, New York City has seen its (salaried) population of fashion designers rise and fall, and rise again. Before we launch into the figures, it is important to note that a large percentage of New York fashion designers work independently. The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not report figures for independent workers, business owners, etc. However, it is estimated that there are more than 175,000 fashion industry jobs in the state of New York, with 7,300 salaried fashion designers living in the state alone (2013). These individuals earn an average salary of $79,270 per year.
Between 2004 and today, the number of salaried New York-based fashion designers increased from 7,170 to 7,260 with a large increase in 2009 to 7,550. This means, between 2009 and today, the industry lost 250 salaried designers. Salaries have remained somewhat steady, however. In 2004, New York fashion designers earned a mean average salary of $78,800. By 2009, the average salary increased to $80,490-$81,990. Salaries dipped slightly between 2009 and today to $79,270 per year.
We have good news for the fashion design industry overall though, and for New York-based designers. First, the Bureau projects a 10.4 percent increase in employment for fashion designers for the 2010-2020 decade. Salaries are expected to 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. Salaries for California designers are rising too. The average mean salary for California fashion designers is $70,490, up from $68,290 in 2006.
Employment opportunities for fashion designers are highly concentrated in two states—New York and California. As of May 2010, almost 75 percent of all salaried fashion designers worked in these two states. While aspiring fashion designers can find jobs throughout the state of New York, the best opportunities can be found in New York City, of course.
Aspiring fashion designers and fashion merchandisers might be interested in another area of fashion that could be rewarding. The merchandise display industry is growing and many aspiring fashion designers and fashion merchandisers see it as a way to get a foot in the door at top retailers and studios. The U.S. is home to 73,490 salaried merchandise displayers, up from 62,580 in 2006. They earn a mean average 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 of New York-based merchandise displayers rose and fell slightly between 2004 and today, New York is still home to one of the nation’s largest populations of merchandise displayers. New York was home to around 3,590 merchandise displayers between 2004 and 2006. The pool dipped to 3,180 before rising again between 2008 and 2009 to 4,110. Today, New York is home to 3,910 merchandise displayers, earning an average mean salary of $35,920 per year. Between 2004 and 2006, average earnings were $34,670, and between 2008 and 2009, earnings were $33,340.