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Career Facts - Fashion Program

Fashion is ...

a commonly used term for describing a style of clothing and custom prevalent at a given time. In other words, fashion describes the trend in clothes and accessories which is followed by majority of people at a given time or in a particular place.

Fashion is a $1.2 trillion global industry, with more than $250 billion spent annually on fashion in the United States, according to industry analysts. Fashion and apparel industries employ 1.9 million people in the United States and have a positive impact on regional economies across the country. New York City and Los Angeles are the two largest fashion hubs in the United States, with over two-thirds of all fashion designers employed in these cities. But they are not the whole story, and cities such as San Francisco, Nashville, Columbus, and Lansing are beginning to reap economic benefits, including high-paying jobs in fashion design.

French fashion designer Coco Chanel once said, "Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening." This is a true statement as Fashion isn't defined solely by our clothing choices, but is also conveyed through the way we carry ourselves, our personalities and our views of the world.

What types of skills are required?

Some have what it takes to survive in the fashion industry. Some don't. Some say success in fashion depends on talent, others sure will power. One thing is for sure-very few make it to the top echelon of fame and fortune to design fashion couture. But one may succeed in the fashion industry on a smaller scale.

Merchandising, marketing, and buying skills will most likely be the part of the same job description, unless you work for a large company that can afford to employ specialists in each area. A fashion merchandiser makes sure a storefront puts on a strong front. They are in charge of the presentation of items-the placement of clothing on mannequins-what jewelry highlights which outfit, for example. A fashion merchandiser is a trend spotter in a sense-they keep up on latest trends so they may know what to stock the store with.

Fashion buying requires more than a knowledge of what's hot in fashion. A merchandiser must also be business savvy-they have to make sure the clothing bought by the store is in the target customer's price range, that the store itself can afford to purchase the clothing at a certain price, and how much of the clothing will sell. And a merchandiser will need a few marketing tricks up his or her sleeve. A fashion merchandiser must also know how to negotiate with the suppliers of the clothing. Negotiating skills involve excellent communication and possibly ability to wheel and deal.

Fashion photography is a genre of photography devoted to displaying clothing and other fashion items. Fashion photography is most often conducted for advertisements or fashion magazines such as Vogue, Vanity Fair, or Elle. Over time, fashion photography has developed its own aesthetic in which the clothes and fashions are enhanced by the presence of exotic locations or accessories. Fashion photographers must have the best job in the photography business–interesting themes, exotic locations, and lots of variety!

A fashion styling is the bridge between fashion and psychology. Stylists match clothing to people's personalities. A good stylist is able to ensemble an outfit that will match the spirit of the wearer as well as suit the occasion. A fashion stylist may work for individuals and prepare outfits for special events and occasions, or they may work for television shows or on a movie set. Fashion styling requires talent in selecting clothing that is flattering in color as well as the right fit and shape to flatter the individual's body type.

An entrepreneurial nature is a bonus in the fashion industry. Many jobs require you to work for yourself and your success will depend on your ability to market yourself. An entrepreneur must be self-motivated and able to network socially.

The fashion industry is always changing. This makes for a lot of opportunities for those working in this field. Competitiveness and creativity are perfect personality matches in fashion related occupations. If you have what it takes the fashion industry has a lot to offer.


This is one of the most high profile jobs in the fashion industry. Designers are responsible for conceptualizing their ideas on trends and realizing them on their final products. Designers can be employed by companies which own a group of designers, or work for their own brand and production line, or, even as a freelancer providing designs for difference companies.
There are several types of fashion designers:

  1. Apparel designers: Obviously these are clothing designers, ranging from lingerie, sports wear, casual wear to high fashion couture, for men, women and kids.
  2. Footwear designers: They design footwear for men, women and kids from a style point of view, as well as from a foot-health’s perspective.
  3. Accessory designers: Accessories has a broad definitely -from handbags, hat, eyewear to gloves, scarves and jewelry pieces.


Production involves the sampling of garments and accessories until producing the final pieces that would deliver to shops and customers. This massive work involves a team of various professions:

  1. Merchandiser: Merchandisers play a key role in the production process of a fashion product. They are responsible for buying raw materials for production, selecting fabric, textiles and trims. They have to make decisions based on pricing, quality and latest trend and innovation of raw materials.
  2. Technical Designers: Technical designers are the one responsible for doing fittings during the whole sampling to production procedure. They might not be the one who designed the garment but are the experts in providing alternative to the garment to improve the fitting of garment.
  3. Pattern Makers: Pattern is the basis for a garment to be sewed. Pattern makers produce and maintain patterns for garments that designers have sketched out. Pattern makers are key persons in realization of a garment.
  4. Pattern Graders: The sizing of garment starts with the pattern grading. Pattern graders are experts in creating size specifications for different sizes. They are vital persons in for any fashion brands, as a consistent sizing across products can maintain customer loyalty and confidence.
  5. Quality Control Specialists: Quality control is of top importance for any sort of products, and is no exception in fashion industry. Quality control specialists look at the quality of raw materials, like peeling, shrinking and color fading of textile and overall quality of a fashion item, for instance, the overall assembling of an accessory item.
  6. Planners: Fashion planners coordinate closely with designers, merchandisers and buyers to decide the production plan for the coming seasons. They look at both production and marketing side while paying close attention to the latest fashion trend.


Marketing is as important as making a perfect piece of fashion item. Whether it's marketing in a wholesale or retail side, people in fashion marketing bears the mission of promoting the fashion item into this fast changing world.

  1. Fashion Buyer/ Retail Merchandisers: Product merchandisers are the ones who buy ready-made products to be sold in a shop like department stores. These merchandisers conduct researches and analyze market trend, the relative customer wants and stocks. They bear huge responsibility in terms of profit making, since having the eye to buy the right product for sales can make a difference in revenue.
  2. Showroom Sales Specialists: Some brands own their showrooms, displaying their collection for fashion buyers (wholesalers) to make their orders. Compared with retail sales, showroom sales specialists should know their seasonal returning customer better and be able provide detailed information on the selling collections.
  3. Retail Store Manager/ Boutique Owners: Retail shop manager, sales and boutique owners are the first line personnel facing retail customers like you and me.

Other Fashion-related Professions

Besides in the field of designing, producing or marketing a fashion item, one might be attracted by other positions like as a writer of fashion magazine, online blogs and fashion event management etc. Below is a list highlighting the other possible jobs related to fashion industry:

  1. Fashion Writers: Writers or freelance writers can write for magazines, online blogs or sites on reviews, trends and recommendations. Fashion writers can also develop into fashion magazine editors.
  2. Personal Stylists: Some department stores provide personal styling services while some private customer would employ personal stylist giving them recommendations in personal styling.
  3. Fashion event Management/ Public Relations: There are nameless fashion events which requires professional public relations and event management personnel to take care of. There are PR companies specialized in holding fashion related events.

Grasp the Opportunities!
Besides the above mentioned careers in the fashion industry, there are still many other opportunities like photographer, costume designer and catalog/ fashion show models, etc. One of the most reachable way to keep yourself updated with job opportunities and fashion trend is to be active in fashion forum and subscribe to fashion magazines.

Grasp the opportunities and enjoy fashion career!

What degrees are available?

There are 11 options for goal completion in the Fashion program:

  • 1 –Certificate of Completion –Fashion Studies –20credits
  • 1 –Certificate of Achievement –Fashion Design –35credit
  • 1 –AAS Degree –Fashion Design –68credits
  • 1 –Certificate of Achievement –Fashion Production Techniques –37credit
  • 1 –AAS Degree –Fashion Production Techniques –65credits
  • 1 –Certificate of Achievement –Fashion Retail & Marketing –32credit
  • 1 –AAS Degree –Fashion Retail & Marketing –63credits
  • 1 –Certificate of Achievement –Fashion Styling –35credit
  • 1 –AAS Degree –Fashion Styling –63credits
  • 1 –Certificate of Achievement –Fashion Visual Merchandising & Display –35credit
  • 1 –AAS Degree –Fashion Visual Merchandising & Display –63credits

While the majority of our students pursuing Bachelor’s degrees transfer to Central Michigan University, many students have successfully transferred to colleges outside Michigan. Contact the Fashion Program Advisor to make an appointment to discuss your options.

Fashion Careers that utilize LCC’s Associate's Degrees

There are many types of associate's degree in fashion that you can pursue, each designed for a different type of fashion career.

LCC’s associate's degree in fashion design is intended for individuals pursuing an entry-level position in the design field, and it can help you become a fashion designer, a sketching assistant, or another similar type of professional responsible for creating actual designs.

LCC’s associate’s degree in fashion visual merchandising and display and the associate’s degree in fashion marketing & retail, are intended for individuals pursuing an entry-level or mid-level fashion career in the acquisition, marketing, and/or sale of fashion accessories and/or clothing. These associate's degrees can help you become a fashion buyer, a fashion sales supervisor, a merchandise planner, a visual merchandiser, or another similar type of professional.

LCC’s associate's degree in fashion styling is intended for individuals pursuing a fashion career that handles the way that fashionable clothing and accessories are displayed and seen by the public. An associate's degree in fashion styling can help you become an assistant fashion photographer, a fashion advertiser, a model, a stylist, or another similar type of professional.

LCC’s associate degree in fashion production techniques is intended for individuals pursuing an entry-level or mid-level fashion career as an assistant designer, spec and fit technician, patternmaker, pattern grader, production lead, production supervisor, design engineer, or technical artist.

Fashion Careers that require Bachelor's Degrees

There are many types of bachelor's degrees in fashion that you can pursue, each designed for a different type of career in fashion.

A bachelor’s degree in fashion design is intended for individuals pursuing an entry-level or a mid-level position in the design field, and it can help you become a fashion consultant, a fashion designer, a fashion marketer, a visual merchandiser, or another similar type of fashion career that is responsible for creating and/or marketing designs.

A bachelor's degree in fashion marketing is intended for individuals pursuing a mid-level fashion career in a marketing department or with a marketing company. It can help you become a fashion marketer, an independent fashion designer, or another similar type of fashion profession if you have some experience or a degree that is specifically related to the fashion industry.

A bachelor's degree in fashion merchandising, also known as fashion visual merchandising and display, is intended for individuals pursuing a mid-level or upper-level fashion career in the acquisition, marketing, and/or sale of fashion accessories and/or clothing. A bachelor's degree in fashion merchandising may help you become an advertising strategist, a marketing campaign manager, a visual merchandiser, or another similar type of professional.

Fashion Careers that require Master's Degrees

A master's degree in fashion can open up a number of opportunities in a number of different careers in fashion. In a 2014 fashion industry survey, only 14% of those employed in a fashion related position held a master’s degree. Most employers in the fashion industry consider a master's degree to be an indication that your skills far surpass those of most of the professionals in the field and are, as a result, willing to pay you more and offer you better opportunities if you have a master's.

A master's degree in fashion design is intended for individuals pursuing an upper-level fashion career in the design field, and it can help you become a chief designer, a design supervisor, a fashion show manager, or another similar type of fashion professional (as long as you have the appropriate amount of experience to go along with the degree).

A Master of Business Administration (MBA) is suitable for individuals pursuing a management fashion career in virtually any area of the industry, and it can help you become a fashion show manager, a retail manager, or another similar type of fashion professional (as long as you have the appropriate amount of experience and another degree that is specifically related to the fashion field).

Continuing Education in Fashion Careers

In a 2014 fashion industry survey, only 6% of those employed in a fashion related position held a PhD in fashion –most were deans or other leadership at educational institutions. While a degree may be able to help you get the fashion job you're looking for, it may not be the only thing that you need to keep your job. Most employers in the fashion industry will want to make sure you are staying up to date with the latest trends and changes in the industry on a regular basis. Continuing education courses are designed to teach you about some of the latest design techniques, styles, trends, and changes in the fashion industry; these courses can be very helpful when you're trying to learn how the industry has changed since you left school. There are, however, a few things that you should remember about continuing education:

  • First, most fashion professionals are not legally required to hold a license and there is, therefore, no legal requirements to complete a certain number of courses. However, your employer (and/or the state that you're working in, if you're a stylist) may still require you to attend some continuing education courses, and you will need to complete these courses in order to keep your job.
  • Second, while a job may not necessarily require you to take continuing education courses, you may still want to take them anyway. Continuing education courses are typically a very effective way to improve your résumé. You may obtain a position or advance your career more quickly if your employer sees that you have put in some additional effort and learned some new skills to help you stay competitive in the field.
  • Third, there are a number of different places that offer continuing education courses; almost every fashion school will offer some of the courses that you need. You may be able to attend some courses at your local art school, college, university, technical school, or even through an online program. If you are required to take a continuing education course or want to take a course or two to build up your résumé, you won't necessarily have to go very far to find a program that has the courses that you need.

What is the average salary?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: The median wage of fashion designers was $64,530 in May 2010.  The median wage is the wage at which half of the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less.  The lowest 10 percent earned less than $32,500, and the top 10 percent earned more than $130,890.

Fashion Technologies at Lansing Community College

Communication, Media and the Arts Department
Gannon Bldg, Room 131
Phone: (517) 483-1546
Additional contact information »