Who says casual can’t be cool? It can be and North Carolina is proof. Although the state has it’s own glamorous fashion weeks, most residents are happy with hip finds from department stores, boutiques, and consignment shops. This doesn’t mean North Carolina doesn’t care about fashion. The state is home to more than 100 salaried fashion designers, hundreds of buyers, and more than 1,000 merchandise displayers. Buying and merchandise display work are just two duties associated with fashion merchandising.
In addition to multiple fashion weeks throughout the year, North Carolina is home to dozens of shopping centers—and not just in major cities. Just a few include Asheville mall in Asheville, Carolina Place in Concord, Four Seasons Towne Center in Greensboro, Northgate mall in Durham, and Southpark Mall in Charlotte. These shopping venues, along with other malls and shopping districts, offer opportunities for both fashion design and fashion merchandising graduates.
North Carolina is also home to a number schools that offer fashion design and fashion merchandising degrees. These schools can help you develop the technical and creative skills needed to make it in the fashion industry whether you decide to start a career in North Carolina, Atlanta or California.
Career Opportunities & Employers in North Carolina :
North Carolina fashion designers can find work in principle cities such as Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Durham, Fayetteville, Cary, Wilmington, and High Point. Many textile companies and apparel manufacturers are located in these cities as well as a number of retail centers. 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. These areas offer numerous career opportunities for both fashion design and fashion merchandising graduates.
North Carolina Fashion Schools & Programs:
Most employers prefer a two- or four- year degree from an accredited college, whether you’re planning a career in apparel manufacturing, merchandising, or design. Fortunately, 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 North Carolina. These schools typically award degrees in both fashion design and fashion merchandising. Some of the most popular schools for aspiring fashion designers are:
- The Art Institute of Charlotte
- The Art Institute of Raleigh-Durham
- Meredith College, Raleigh
- North Carolina State University College of Design, Raleigh
- University of North Carolina, Greensboro
If you’re interested in a career in fashion design or fashion merchandising, enroll in a fashion design or fashion merchandising degree program. If you are interested running your own business, consider combining your degree with a business or marketing degree. Keep in mind that most universities offer marketing and business degrees, while most art and design schools do not. You can 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 North Carolina :
North Carolina has one of the largest textile and apparel industries in the U.S. It is the second-largest textile state and the third-largest apparel state in terms of employment. The textile industry, however, is almost three times bigger than the apparel industry and it employs more than 59,000 workers. The apparel industry employs more than 20,000 workers. Around 44 percent of the jobs in textiles and apparel are in North Carolina, Georgia, and California.
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.
Most North Carolina fashion designers live in major cities such as Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and Durham. They average more than $60,000 per year and they work in other areas such as design, pattern making, and consulting. 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. It’s not unusual for a top fashion designer to earn millions per year.
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. There are more than 1,000 merchandise displayers in North Carolina.
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