West Virginians know a thing or two about fashion. Whether you’re walking the streets of Charleston or strolling across the campuses of Morgantown, you’ll find styles ranging from bohemian chic to classic to trendy. Locals shop for the styles they want at boutiques, department stores, and malls. The largest shopping venue in the state, is Huntington Mall in Barboursville. Huntington is home to more than 100 stores and it hosts a number of events, including fashion shows, each year.
West Virginia is also home to several schools that offer fashion design and fashion merchandising programs. West Virginia University in Morgantown and Marshall University in Huntington are two of the most popular options. 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 West Virginia, New York or California.
Career Opportunities & Employers in West Virginia:
West Virginia fashion designers and fashion merchandisers can find work in principle cities such as Charleston, Huntington, Wheeling, Parkersburg, Morgantown, Weirton, and Fairmont. Positions in design include textile design, technical production, apparel design, pattern making, sample making, retail, and administrative (textiles). Fashion merchandisers can find work in the retail sales, buying, visual merchandising, promotions, and fashion directing.
West Virginia Fashion Schools & Programs:
Most employers in the fashion industry prefer candidates with a degree from an accredited college. Fortunately, the National Association of Schools of Art and Design accredits approximately 300 postsecondary institutions with programs in art and design. Virginia is home to several colleges that offer fashion programs. They are:
- West Virginia University, Morgantown
- Marshall University, Huntington
- Pierpont Community & Technical College, Fairmont
West Virginia University’s Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Design offers both fashion design and fashion merchandising degrees. Marshall University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Family and Consumer Services with a concentration in fashion merchandising. Pierpont Community & Technical College, School of Human Services, offers degrees in fashion design and fashion merchandising, and a minor in retail management.
If you’re interested in a career in fashion design or fashion merchandising, you can get started by enrolling in a fashion design or fashion merchandising degree program. If you want to open your own design studio or a boutique, consider combining your fashion degree with a business or marketing degree.
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 West Virginia:
As of July 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics had not reported employment and salary figures for West Virginia fashion designers. 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.
Employment and salary figures for fashion merchandisers are also unavailable, but a significant part of the job involves working with window and store displays. There are more than 400 merchandise displayers in West Virginia, up from 240 in 2006.
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