Working in the fashion industry isn’t easy. It’s a mind-bogglingly colossal industry valued at $2.5 trillion, and it’s as competitive an environment as it gets.
Coming up with original, unique products in such a saturated market is exceptionally challenging. Working as a fashion designer is hard work and requires remarkable dedication and creativity. However, it can also be an extraordinarily lucrative and fulfilling career.
So, how much do fashion designers make? In this article, we’ll analyze the annual income of fashion designers in the United States and answer other frequently asked questions on the topic.
How Much Do Fashion Designers Get Paid?
In the United States, the average annual salary for a fashion designer is $74,410 per year or $6,200 per month. The median annual wage, which tends to represent reality better than an average, is $64,260, or $5,355 per month.
The lowest-paid 10% of fashion designers in the US make a measly $32,320 per year, while top earners bring home an excellent mean salary of $130,900 per year.
Let’s take a closer look at all the factors that influence these paychecks.
Naturally, a more experienced fashion designer will make more than less experienced colleagues. You can expect the starting salary for a fashion designer to be more or less $2,500 per month—around the same as what the bottom 10% of fashion designers make.
You need at least a bachelor’s degree in fashion design or general design to be taken seriously in this industry, especially if you’re just starting.
However, you don’t strictly need a degree to be successful. For example, Karl Lagerfeld, Coco Chanel, Cristóbal Balenciaga, and Michael Kors didn’t finish school, and yet they’re among the most influential fashion designers of all time. Still, these are one-in-a-million cases, and having a degree will help secure a job far more quickly.
Lastly, fashion designers’ income can depend on where they work. More specifically, you have a better chance of getting the most prestigious positions in states like New York or California. However, fashion designers earn the most in the District of Columbia ($4,206 per month) and Maryland ($4,465 per month).
1. Is Fashion Designer a Good Career?
If you’re a talented, bright, hard-working, and creative individual ready to face uncertainty and a volatile, highly-competitive market, you could make a fortune as a fashion designer. However, as you can see, you’ll have to go through a lot before considering yourself successful.
If you’re genuinely passionate about it, fashion designing is a good career choice.
2. How to Become a Fashion Designer
Let’s look at how you can make a career in fashion designing.
Choose Your Industry
First, you must understand what you want to design. Follow your passions: choosing an industry only for the money won’t get you anywhere.
Go to College
You don’t need a degree to become a successful fashion designer, but it surely helps. With a bachelor’s degree in fashion design or general design, you’ll have a much easier time getting a job.
Talk to other established fashion designers online and in person. Internships are a great tool to develop some much-needed experience in the field and meet seasoned designers.
Build Your Portfolio
A fashion designer’s income is tied directly to how impressive of a portfolio they’ve built up during their student years. Take all your assignments seriously from the get-go, and once you graduate, you’ll already have a handy tool to showcase your skills.
Learn How to Run a Business
If you want to create pieces that appeal to the public, you must learn what people want and how to make them want your products more. In short, you have to understand how to treat fashion designing as a business and not only as a form of art.
Once you understand how to run a successful business, you won’t have to worry about your fashion designer’s salary anymore.
Impress and Innovate
To become a successful fashion designer, you must learn to design impressive and unique products to attract customers. You’ll have to develop an eye for detail and offer an excellent experience from start to finish. Understand what people are looking for and what your competitors lack, and act accordingly.
Nobody wants to buy an outdated product, especially when it comes to fashion. Understand what the rest of the industry is doing and keep up with the trends. Social media and fashion influencers bring updates daily. Your personal touch on a current fad might be all it takes to become wildly successful.
3. Do Fashion Designers Make Good Money?
To understand if fashion designers are well paid, let’s look at how much Americans make on average.
The average annual wage for a full-time worker in the US in 2022 is $53,490. The median yearly salary is $53,560, and this is the sum we’ll consider, as the median is much closer to reality than the average.
The median annual salary for fashion designers is $64,260—almost $10,000 higher than the earnings of the average American. The top 10% of fashion designers earn a whopping $130,900, or $77,340 more than the average Joe.
Bottom line—fashion designers do make good money.
4. How Much Do Fashion Designers Make a Year?
The average yearly salary for a fashion designer in 2021 was $74,410. According to the same study, the annual median wage was $64,260.
So, how much do fashion designers make per month? The average monthly paycheck is $6,200, while the median is $5,355.
Finally, how much do fashion designers make an hour? The average hourly rate for a full-time fashion designer was $15.98 in 2021, and in 2022 it increased to $20.42.
5. How Much Do Fashion Designers Make in New York?
According to Indeed, you can find the most positions for fashion designers in New York and California. Let’s check out the yearly salary in these states for these positions.
In New York, the median yearly salary for a fashion designer is $52,726, or $4,394 per month.
How much do fashion designers make in California instead?
In California, the average fashion designer makes $64,022 yearly, or $5,335 per month.
6. How Much Do Top Fashion Designers Make?
Let’s see how much money the top-earning fashion designers bring home each year.
The highest-earning fashion designers make around $129,500 per year, six figures salary, more than twice the median yearly salary for the same occupation, standing at $64,260. However, these are rookie numbers compared to how much the world’s most affluent fashion designers are worth.
As of 2022, Miuccia Prada, head designer at Prada, is the wealthiest fashion designer globally, with a net worth of $12.4 billion. The second-richest fashion designer in the world is Giorgio Armani, founder of the renowned brand Armani, who’s worth $8.5 billion.
Fashion Designer Salary: Conclusion
As you can see, a fashion designer’s average salary is nothing to scoff at, and numerous people have made a fortune by choosing this career.
The fashion industry is still experiencing growth like never before, and has been a profitable field for hundreds of years. If you have a passion for designing and are looking for a genuinely fulfilling and lucrative career, becoming a fashion designer is a good choice.