New Jersey will forever exist in New York’s shadow, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing—especially when it comes to fashion! Locals are lucky to live a hop, skip, and a jump away from the Fashion Capital of the World and all it has to offer. They have quick access to all of the city’s top fashion events, world-renowned design shops and boutiques, and some of the best department stores in the world. And at the end of the day, locals can go home and indulge in their own fashion scene, because yes—New Jersey definitely has one.
New Jersey has it’s own Fashion Week which is held annually October 9-13. The event attracts big name fashion designers from around the world, as well as emerging local designers, and others from across the country. Fashion Week is a big part of the fashion scene here as well as more malls per square mile than most other states. Some of the biggest areas for fashion and retail therapy are Via Borgata in Atlantic City, Nassau Street in Princeton, East Ridgewood Avenue in Ridgewood, and Upper Montclair in Montclair. These areas and many others offer many opportunities for fashion designers and fashion merchandisers to thrive.
If you decide that New Jersey is the best place to launch your fashion design or fashion merchandising career, you’ll need talent and the right education in order to compete. Fortunately, the state is home to dozens of schools that can help shape you into the designer or merchandiser you want to be. And remember, you’ll also have access to some of the top fashion design programs in the world. All you have to do is take a quick trip to New York—it’s only 13 miles away.
Aspiring New Jersey fashion designers and fashion merchandisers will also benefit from employment and salary growth in the state and the opportunity to work in all areas from textiles and apparel manufacturing to buying, designing, and production.
Career Opportunities & Employers in New Jersey:
New Jersey’s fashion designers are a versatile bunch. They may assist other designers in building or maintaining their labels or they may work for apparel manufacturers or for apparel, piece goods, and notions merchant wholesalers. They may work in sales, consulting, weaving, printing, and in many other related areas.
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 fashion merchandising graduates can find employment across the state, but principle cities such as Newark, Jersey City, Paterson, and Elizabeth offer the most opportunities.
New Jersey Fashion Schools & Programs:
Although a degree isn’t always required to break into fashion design or fashion merchandising, most employers prefer it. They also prefer degrees from an accredited program. Fortunately, the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) accredits approximately 300 postsecondary institutions with programs in art and design. Some are located in the state of New Jersey and most award degrees in fashion design and fashion merchandising.
Aspiring fashion designers and fashion merchandisers living in New Jersey may study at Burlington County College in Pemberton, which offers Associate Degrees in Fashion Design, Fashion Product Merchandising, and Fashion Studies or Montclair State University in Montclair, which offers a Bachelor of Art in Fashion Studies. Other options include:
- Brookdale Community College, Lincroft
- Bergen Community College, Paramus
- Centenary College, Hackettstown
In New York, some of the best fashion programs are offered at Parsons the New School for Design, Pratt Institute, and New York School of Design.
To get started on a career in fashion design or fashion merchandising, enroll in a fashion design or fashion merchandising degree program. If you plan to start your own business, 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 New Jersey:
New Jersey is home to more than 500 working fashion designers. The average salary for fashion designers here is $68,930, up from $67,860 in 2006. As of May 2008, the mean annual wage for fashion designers nationwide was $61,160, meaning, New Jersey designers earn much more than the national average. The lowest paid fashion designers earned an average annual salary of $32,150 and the highest paid fashion designers earned $124,780 per year. Many fashion designers are self-employed, so salaries may vary greatly. A top fashion designer may earn millions per year, while others may earn much less than the national average.
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 3,420 merchandise displayers living in New Jersey, up from 2,480 in 2006.
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.
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