From Rhode Island Fashion Week to the Rhode Island Fashion Concert, this tiny state makes big things happen in the fashion world. Not only this, but several schools here offer some of the nations top fashion programs. Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in Providence and the University of Rhode Island in Kingston are considered the best.
In addition to fashion events and some of the best fashion programs in the U.S., Rhode Island is home to a number of impressive shopping venues from malls and department stores to independent shops and boutiques. Some of the most popular venues can be found in large cities such as Providence—the largest in the state, Warwick, Cranston, and Pawtucket. Just a few notable haunts include Providence Place Mall in Providence and Garden City Center in Cranston.
If you decide that Rhode Island is the best place to start a career in fashion design or fashion merchandising, all you need is talent and the right education. Fortunately, Rhode Island has the education part covered. The schools listed above can cover the technical and creative aspects of fashion design, but the rest is up to you.
Career Opportunities & Employers in Rhode Island:
Rhode Island fashion designers work for other designers, they may work for apparel manufacturers, or they may work independently. Fashion merchandisers work in areas such as product development, production, marketing, buying, and sales. Many also work in visual merchandising for retail stores or fashion houses. It’s possible to find work in fashion design or merchandising across the state, but the most opportunities are available in Warwick, Cranston, and Pawtucket. Smaller areas worth looking into include Newport, East Providence, and North Providence.
Rhode Island Fashion Schools & Programs:
A degree from an accredited college isn’t always necessary to break into the fashion industry, but most employers prefer a degree from an accredited program. The National Association of Schools of Art and Design accredits approximately 300 postsecondary institutions with programs in art and design. Some are located in the state of Rhode Island and most award degrees in fashion design and fashion merchandising.
Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in Providence and the University of Rhode Island (URI) in Kingston are the state’s top schools for fashion design and fashion merchandising. Rhode Island School of Design offers a degree in textiles and apparel design. The University of Rhode Island offers degrees in textiles, fashion merchandising, design, and textile marketing. The University of Rhode Island also offers a masters degree in fashion merchandising and a certificate in fashion merchandising. Students have the option to major or minor in the programs listed.
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 shop or line, 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 Rhode Island:
Rhode Island fashion designers work in textile design, technical production, apparel design, pattern making, and even administration sales (textiles). In 2006, there were 30 salaried fashion designers living in the state, down from 40 in 2004. Salaried fashion designers here earned an average of $63,570 in 2006, up from $61,450 in 2004. As of July 2011, current salary figures had not been reported. Employment and salary figures for fashion merchandisers had not been reported either, but a significant part of the job involves working with window and store displays. As of 2009, there were 100 merchandise displayers living in Rhode Island, down from 420 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.
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 may earn millions per year, while others may earn less than the national average.
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