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New Mexico Fashion Careers: Employment & Salary Trends, Career Options, & Training Programs for Fashion Designers and Merchandisers

Written by FS StaffSeptember 23, 2011
New Mexico


New Mexico attracts designers from all over the world thanks to the state’s inspirational beauty and diverse fashion scene. It is also home to film director and fashion icon Tom Ford and Fashion Week New Mexico. New York-based jewelry designer Pamela Love showed at Fashion Week New Mexico in 2010. New Mexico happened to be the inspiration for one of her best collections.

In addition to being a magnet for fashion icons and designers, New Mexico is home to a number of shopping venues ranging from elaborate malls to upscale boutiques. These venues help outfit fashionistas throughout the state and anyone else looking to keep up with the latest trends. The residents here don’t really stick to any one style, so a stroll around Albuquerque, the state’s largest city or Deming, one of the smallest, will reveal styles ranging from 80s inspired to preppy to hip to sophisticated.

To find the best fashions, locals line up at Coronado Center in Albuquerque, home of 150 specialty stores, or they head to Farmington, the state’s primary trade area, to shop at large department stores or more than 60 specialty shops. Boutiques and other unique shops can be found in principle cities such as Albuquerque, Las Cruses, Rio Rancho, Santa Fe, Roswell, Farmington, and South Valley, to name a few.

Employment and Salary Trends for New Mexico Fashion Designers and Fashion Merchandisers  

As of July 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics had not reported employment and salary figures for New Mexico fashion designers or fashion merchandisers in any state. However, this doesn’t mean there are no fashion designers or merchandisers living in the state. Fashion events such as fashion shows and modeling competitions are held often here and they highlight local designer, models, and other industry professionals.

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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Fashion merchandisers hold positions ranging from buyer to visual merchandiser. The state of New Mexico is home to around 150 visual merchandisers (merchandise displayers) up from 130 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 established 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 overall 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 millions per hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars per year.

Fashion Design and Fashion Merchandising Career Opportunities in New Mexico

A number of careers are open to New Mexico fashion designers and fashion merchandisers. Fashion designers can find positions in textile design, technical production, apparel design, pattern making, and administration in the textiles industry. Fashion merchandisers may find work in management (wholesale and retail industries), buying (retail), merchandising (retail), promotions, and auxiliary positions such as mystery shopper, stylist, or fashion coordinator. Many also work in visual merchandising for retail stores or fashion houses. Fashion design and fashion merchandising graduates can find work in just about any major city, but try the principle cities listed above first to see what they have to offer.

New Mexico Fashion Design and Fashion Merchandising Training Programs

You can certainly make it big in fashion, but no matter what, you’ll have to work hard and pay your dues. To get your foot in the door so you can start working your way up, you’ll need talent and training. Most employers prefer a two- or four-year degree from an accredited college. The National Association of Schools of Art and Design accredits approximately 300 postsecondary institutions with programs in art and design, so you’ll find plenty of programs to choose from. Several New Mexico schools offer fashion design and/or fashion merchandising programs. They are:

  • New Mexico State University, Las Cruces
  • Eastern New Mexico University, Portales
  • Santa Fe Community College, Santa Fe

If you’re ready to dive into a career in fashion design or fashion merchandising, the first step is to enroll in a fashion design or fashion merchandising degree program. If you want open your own boutique or design studio or start your own line, consider combining your fashion degree with a business or marketing degree. You can also wait until you have completed your fashion degree program to enroll in a full-time business or marketing program.

For more information about the fashion design and fashion merchandising industries, visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics at