If you’re fashion conscious and you live in Missouri, chances are you’ve settled in Kansas City (population 459,787) or St. Louis (population 319,294). These cities are home to most of the states high-end retailers, the hippest malls and shopping districts, and the state’s most unique boutiques and design shops. In Kansas City, Country Club Plaza is the premier shopping district, with retailers ranging from Armani to Urban Outfitters. Other top shopping destinations include Oak park Mall, which houses more than 180 specialty stores and Legends Shopping District at Village West, where new stores open every day.
The City of St. Louis has dozens of malls and shopping districts as well, but Saint Louis Galleria is a local favorite. It houses more than 140 stores from Ann Taylor to Wet Seal. Of course, Macy’s and Nordstrom (opening sometime in 2011) also have a place here, as well as other mid to upscale retail stores.
To help boost Missouri’s image in the fashion industry, St. Louis and Kansas City play host to many of the state’s fashion events. Both cities host their very own Fashion Weeks. The shows attract both local and international talent and they take place several times a year.
Missouri is also home to a number of schools that offer fashion design and fashion merchandising programs. Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University, St. Louis, and the Kansas City Art Institute are just a few. Programs such as these can students develop the technical and creative skills needed to make it in the fashion industry wherever you decide to settle.
Career Opportunities & Employers in Missouri:
Most Missouri fashion designers and fashion merchandisers live in major cities. They work in textile design for product development, technical production, administration sales (textile industry), apparel design, and pattern making. Missouri fashion merchandisers may have more opportunities thanks to the high number of retail shops, department stores, and malls in the state. They may find work as buyers, visual merchandisers, store managers, account managers, display directors, or fashion show coordinators to name a few. Head to any downtown area or major shopping district in St. Louis, Kansas City or even Springfield to find the most opportunities.
Missouri Fashion Schools & Programs:
The National Association of Schools of Art and Design accredits approximately 300 postsecondary institutions with programs in art and design and some are located in the state of Missouri. These schools typically award degrees in fashion design, fashion merchandising, and fashion management. In addition to Sam Fox School and Kansas City Art Institute, fashion programs are available at:
- Missouri State University, Springfield
- Lindenwood University, Saint Charles
- Metropolitan Community College, Kansas City
- Missouri State University, Springfield
- Missouri Western State University, St. Joseph
- Stephens College, Columbia
- The Art Institutes International - Kansas City
To begin training for a career in fashion design or fashion merchandising, enroll in a fashion design, fashion merchandising, or apparel design & textiles degree program. Fiber or fashion management majors are other options. If your goal is to create your own line or open a boutique, consider combining your fashion design or fashion merchandising degree with a business or marketing degree. Unfortunately most art and design schools do not offer degrees in business or marketing. In these cases you have several options. You can take business courses at a community or traditional college 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 Missouri:
There are around 140 salaried fashion designers living in Missouri. They earn an average of $50,540 per year, down from $67,630 in 2006. 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. Because many fashion designers are self-employed, salaries may vary greatly. A top fashion designer can earn several million dollars a year.
As of July 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics had not reported employment and salary figures for fashion merchandisers, but a significant part of the job involves working with window and store displays. There are 1,200 merchandise displayers living in Missouri today, up from 900 in 2006.
Overall employment in the fashion industry is expected to grow by one percent for the 2008-2018 decade. Missouri is a good example of this projected growth. In 2006, the state was home to around 110 salaried fashion designers. Sewing and cutting jobs may decline as 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.
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