Oklahoma is home to a small population of salaried fashion designers working in industries from retail to textile design. Many of the state’s fashion designers and fashion merchandisers live in principle cities such as Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and Norman. These major cities host regular fashion events such as Oklahoma Fashion Week, annual design competitions, and multiple model competitions each year.
Regular fashion events take place all over the state in shopping malls, convention centers, and outdoor venues. Oklahoma’s shopping malls are great places to hold events because many offer thousands to over one million square feet of space. Just a few of the state’s best malls include Quail Springs Mall in Oklahoma City (more than 160 stores), the upscale Penn Square Mall, Oklahoma City, with over 1 million square feet of space and more than 150 shops, and Woodland Hills Mall in Tulsa (more than 80 stores that you won't find anywhere else in Tulsa).
Aspiring fashion designers and fashion merchandisers will also find a number of schools in Oklahoma that offer fashion programs such as the University of Central Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University.
Career Opportunities & Employers in Oklahoma:
Oklahoma fashion designers are a versatile bunch. They manage their own lines, they work for larger design houses, they work for apparel manufacturers or they may work for apparel, piece goods, and notions merchant wholesalers. Oklahoma fashion merchandisers may work in product development, production, marketing, and sales. Many also work exclusively in visual merchandising for retail stores or fashion houses. Fashion design and merchandising graduates can find work across the state in major cities such Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and Norman as well as Broken Arrow and Lawton.
Oklahoma Fashion Schools & Programs:
The National Association of Schools of Art and Design accredits approximately 300 postsecondary institutions with programs in art and design. Oklahoma is home to a several traditional colleges that award degrees in fashion design or fashion merchandising. They are:
- Clary Sage College, Tulsa
- Oklahoma State University, Stillwater
- Tulsa Community College, Tulsa
- University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond
To get started on a career in fashion design or fashion merchandising, enroll in a fashion design or fashion merchandising degree program. If you are interested starting your own business, consider combining your fashion degree with a business or marketing degree. If this sounds like it might be a heavy load, you may choose to 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 Bls.gov.
Employment and Salary Trends for Oklahoma:
In 2004, Oklahoma was home to around 30 salaried fashion designers. As of July 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics had not reported recent employment and salary figures for designers or fashion merchandisers. However, fashion merchandisers working in retail often work with window and store displays. Nearly 300 window merchandisers (visual merchandisers) work in Oklahoma today, down from 520 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. It’s not unusual for a top fashion designer to earn millions per year.
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