Florida might not be one of the Fashion Capitals of the World, but Miami certainly is! At number 13 on the list of Fashion Capitals of the World, Miami made the cut thanks to the city’s dominance in the swimwear industry. Other major Florida cities such as Jacksonville, Tampa, and Orlando have much to offer the fashion industry as well. Jacksonville has its very own fashion week, which showcases emerging and established designers. High-end fashion designers such as Tory Burch and Michael Kors have shops in Tampa and The International Academy of Design & Technology (IADT) has a campus in Orlando. IADT hosts the popular IMAGINE Fashion Show each year.
Miami Beach is home to the late Gianni Versace—one of the most famous fashion designers in the world and Miami is now the new home of Project Runway Latin America. In addition, Florida is home to 310 working fashion designers and more than 2,000 merchandise displayers. Merchandise display work is one of the many tasks associated with being a fashion merchandiser. In addition, you’ll find hundreds of shopping districts across the state along with thousands of retail shops and boutiques, design studios, and showrooms.
If you decide that Florida is the best place to launch your fashion design or fashion merchandising career, all you need is talent and the right education. Fortunately, Florida has the education part covered. The state is home to dozens of schools that cover the technical and creative aspects of fashion design. Aspiring Florida fashion designers and fashion merchandisers will also benefit from employment and salary growth in the state and the opportunity to produce all kinds of fashion from footwear and handbags to jewelry and swimwear.
Career Opportunities & Employers in Florida:
Florida’s fashion designers may have their own lines, they may work for other designers, they may work for apparel manufacturers, or apparel, piece goods, and notions merchant wholesalers. Fashion merchandisers work in product development, production, marketing, and sales. Many also work in visual merchandising for retail stores or fashion houses. Fashion design and merchandising graduates can find work across the state from Jacksonville to Downtown Miami.
Florida Fashion Schools & Programs:
Although a degree from an accredited college isn’t always necessary to break into fashion design, most employers prefer a degree from an accredited program. The National Association of Schools of Art and Design accredits approximately 300 postsecondary institutions with programs in art and design. Some are located in the state of Florida and most award degrees in fashion design and fashion merchandising.
Aspiring fashion designers and fashion merchandisers living in Florida may study at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Miami International University of Art & Design in Miami, the International Academy of Design & Technology with campuses in Orlando and Tampa, or Keiser University. Keiser University has more than a dozen campuses across the state. Just a few include Daytona Beach, Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, Sarasota, and Tampa. Other schools in Florida that offer fashion design and fashion merchandising programs are:
- American InterContinental University (South Florida)
- International Academy of Design & Technology (Orlando)
- International Academy of Design & Technology (Tampa)
- Miami International University of Art & Design
- The Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale
- The Art Institute of Jacksonville
- The Art Institute of Tampa
To get started on a career in fashion design or fashion merchandising, enroll in a fashion design or fashion merchandising degree program. Some schools may offer an apparel design degree, an apparel design and development degree, or fashion and textile management degree. Please review all degrees and requirements to make sure you have chosen the right program for your career goals.
If you are interested running your own business, you should consider combining your fashion design or fashion merchandising degree with a business or marketing degree.
Most universities offer marketing and business degrees, while most art and design schools do not. You may choose to take business courses at another school while completing your fashion program or you can wait until you have completed your degree to enroll in a full-time business or marketing degree program.
For more information about the fashion design and fashion merchandising industries, visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics at Bls.gov.
Employment and Salary Trends for Florida:
Florida is home to 310 working fashion designers working in design, consulting, apparel manufacturing, and other professions. In 2006, there were only 210. The average salary for fashion designers has increased as well. In 2006, Florida designers earned an average of $59,190. In 2009, they earned an average of $62,290. Employment and salary figures for fashion merchandisers have not been reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but a significant part of the job involves working with window and store displays. As of 2009, there were 2,490 merchandise displayers living in Florida.
Overall, employment in the fashion industry is expected to grow by one percent for the 2008-2018 decade. Sewing and cutting jobs may decline as more and more designers and brands choose manufacturing companies overseas. However, employment of fashion designers is stable because many firms prefer to keep design work in house.
As of May 2008, the mean annual wage for fashion designers nationwide was $61,160. The lowest paid fashion designers earned an average annual salary of $32,150 and the highest paid fashion designers earned $124,780 per year. Florida fashion designers averaged $72,500 in 2009, up from $68,290 in 2006. Because many fashion designers are self-employed, salaries may vary greatly. A top fashion designer may earn millions per year, while others may earn much less than the national average.
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