How Much Do Fashion Designers Earn?

by Sarah Clark
Fashion School Review Columnist

October 22, 2007

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Salary Outlook in Fashion Design

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In recent years, designers working for top fashion houses like Gucci and Louis Vuitton have been earning record salaries. Last year, New York Times fashion columnist Cathy Horyn reported on Robert Duffy's comments that he and designer Marc Jacobs purposefully did not seek large sums of money when signing on to LVMH in the 1990s. "We felt we had to prove ourselves," Horyn quoted him as saying.

But times have changed. Now that some top tier clothing designers are earning millions, what's the earnings outlook for the 17,000 designers working in the U.S. today?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fashion designers reported median annual earnings of $55,840 in May, 2004. The top 10 percent of clothing designers earned more than $112,840. They also report that, with few exceptions, salaried designers earn more than their freelance counterparts.

Fashion School: Where Career Planning Begins

What does this mean for those considering fashion school? Research campus and online degree programs to see which schools help their students find internship placements and offer career support. Consider working for a company before striking out on your own. And start thinking about your career plans while you are still in fashion school. Consider doing an internship with a brand company.

Of course, it's nothing new to learn that making it as a fashion designer is tough. It's a career that's exciting, sexy, creative and challenging, so many people are attracted to it. But don't let that stop you from making your mark on the clothing design industry. You could be the next Olivier Thyeskens, after all--changing the way we dress for the better.


About the Author
Sarah Clark is a freelance writer specializing in career development and postsecondary education.

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