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Fashion Schools in North Carolina

Written by FS StaffAugust 14, 2013
North Carolina

Described as “casual cool,” North Carolina’s fashion scene has a lot to offer aspiring fashion designers. First, the fashion scene here seems to be growing here, right in line with the population, in just about every city and town. The state of North Carolina is home to more than 9.7 million residents. That’s an increase of more than 1.7 million between the year 2000 and today. Principal cities such as Charlotte have grown by more than 200,000, and smaller towns such as Wake Forest have more than doubled in population since 2000. This means, retail venues can be found just about everywhere you go in The Old North State. 

Head to Charlotte—the state’s largest city, where you’ll find a number of Fashion Week events such as Urban Fashion Week, Charlotte North Carolina Fashion Week, and Charlotte International Fashion Week. Charlotte is also home to several lifestyle and fashion mags such as Carolina Style Magazine and Charlotte Magazine. In Raleigh—North Carolina’s second largest city, the fashion forward can enjoy Raleigh Fashion Week and high-end designer consignment shops such as Adore Designer Retail Boutique.

Greensboro offers a variety of fashion events, and Chapel Hill—one of the state’s smaller (but growing) cities is home to dozens of independent boutiques featuring brands from California, New York, and Canada. North Carolina is also home to a number of top art museums such as The North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA) in Raleigh, and the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art in Charlotte, and a variety of schools that offer top-tier fashion programs.

Continue reading to find out which schools are tops in the world of fashion and where to find them.

North Carolina Fashion Schools

According to the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), North Carolina is home to 139 Title IV degree-granting universities. This includes 64 private and 75 public schools. Just a few private schools that offer fashion programs include The Art Institute of Raleigh-Durham and Johnson & Wales University. A few top public schools for fashion include North Carolina Central University and East Carolina University.

Scroll through the list below to review North Carolina’s best schools for aspiring fashion designers and what they have to offer.

Appalachian State University - Degrees Offered: B.S. Apparel Design and Merchandising, Minor Apparel Design and Merchandising

Johnson & Wales University – Degrees Offered: B.S. Fashion Merchandising & Retail Marketing

The Art Institute of Charlotte    - Degrees Offered: B.A. Fashion & Retail Management, A.A.S. Fashion & Retail Management, A.A.S. Fashion Design, Fashion Retailing Certificate, B.F.A. Interior Design, A.A.S. Interior Design

North Carolina Central University - Degrees Offered: B.S. Textiles & Apparel
with a concentration in Fashion Merchandising or Apparel Design

The Art Institute of Raleigh-Durham – Degrees Offered: B.A. Fashion & Retail Management, A.A.S. Fashion & Retail Management, Fashion Retailing Certificate, B.F.A. Interior Design

University of North Carolina at Greensboro - Degrees Offered: B.S. Apparel Product Design, B.S. Global Apparel and Related Industries, B.S. Retailing and Consumer Studies

East Carolina University - Degrees Offered: B.S. Merchandising with a Fashion concentration B.S. Interiors Merchandising, B.S. Interior Design

Mars Hill
Mars Hill College - B.S. Apparel & Interior Merchandising

Meredith College - B.S. Fashion Merchandising and Design with a concentration in Merchandising or Design, B.S. Interior Design 

More Programs to Consider:

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Quick Fact
In 2017, workers with a bachelor's degree or higher had almost twice as much
median earnings per week than workers with only a high school diploma*.
*Bureau of Labor Statistics

Employment and Salary Trends for Colorado Fashion Designers

North Carolina is the second-largest textile and the third-largest apparel state in the U.S. in terms of employment. The textile industry here is nearly three times larger than the apparel industry and it employs more than 59,000 workers. The apparel industry employs more than 20,000 workers. Combined, North California, California, and Georgia hold 44 percent of the jobs in textiles and apparel. Even with a slight dip in the population of salaried fashion designers between 2008 and today, the job scene is still worthwhile for aspiring North Carolina fashion designers.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, North Carolina was home to 180 salaried fashion designers in 2008. The average salary was $58,130. The latest Bureau report (March 2013) states that the state is home to 150 salaried fashion designers, with an average salary of $56,580 as of March 2012.

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. However, the Bureau does not collect data for these individuals. The state is likely home to hundreds of independent designers, and they may earn as much as or substantially more than the state (and national) average. In fact, some of nation’s top designers earn anywhere from the high six figures to tens of millions of dollars.

Many aspiring fashion designers and merchandisers 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. An excellent related career is in the merchandise display business. 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.

North Carolina also has a growing merchandise display industry, with a population that has dipped and risen considerably since 2006. In 2006, North Carolina was home to 1,720 merchandise displayers earning an average salary of $25,930 per year. The industry took a serious hit between 2006 and 2008, when the talent pool dipped to 900, with a salary increase to $29,230. By 2011, the MD population increased to 1,260 averaging $26,750 annually. Today, the state is home to 1,370 merchandise displayers averaging $28,090.

Many North Carolina fashion designers and merchandisers live in major cities such as Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and Durham. The Triangle (Raleigh-Durham) has the most retail and fashion sales in the state as well as Piedmont Triad—the area within and surrounding Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and High Point, and Metrolina, which is the metropolitan area of North and South Carolina within and surrounding the city of Charlotte. Other specific areas worth exploring include Chapel Hill and major cities such as Fayetteville, Cary, and Wilmington.

Did You Know.... Academy of Art University’s School of Fashion offers BFA's in Fashion, Fashion Merchandising, Textile Design, Fashion Marketing, Fashion Styling, Costume Design, and Fashion Product Development. Learn more.

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