Starting Your Fashion Career: LA Versus NYC

You’re ready to start your fashion career—but where? The fashion industries are thriving in both Los Angeles and New York City, and both offer exciting opportunities for budding fashion professionals. You just have to know what you’re looking for. Let’s take a deeper look at fashion careers in LA vs. NYC. Choosing between two major cities can be difficult; no two cities are alike, and our preferences are subjective – so can one city really be “better” than the other? When you’re making the choice of where to start your fashion career, there is no one size fits all approach. Both New York and Los Angeles are popular destinations for professionals seeking work in the fashion industry. New York City has long been considered the fashion capital of the United States. Fashion schools in NYC are world-renowned, and creative professionals have been drawn there for decades thanks to the unique blend of high fashion and street style. Yet, over the past few years, Los Angeles has gained momentum in the industry, especially for emerging designers, clothing manufacturers, and homegrown e-commerce brands. So how can you figure out whether Los Angeles or New York is the right place for you? Let’s take a look at what each city can offer.

NYC Fashion Jobs

For aspiring fashion professionals, the concrete jungle really is what dreams are made of. Every year, thousands of bright-eyed students flock to New York to attend some of the best fashion schools in the country – Parsons, FIT, and Pratt to name a few. These determined fashionistas had a reason for coming to the Big Apple. NYC is home to over 5,000 fashion showrooms, 75 major trade shows, and countless top designers. This makes it a pretty good choice for those seeking fashion design jobs in NYC. The industry is ripe with opportunity, even for the more niche careers (looking at you aspiring Technical Designers, CGI Artists, and Virtual Showroom Designers).So, what is it that makes NYC such a hot spot for the fashion industry? Unlike southern California, this east coast city has four distinct seasons. The widely varying temperatures give designers more opportunities to put out unique collections and pieces, from breezy summer dresses to chic winter outerwear. New York is also home to a faster-paced lifestyle than LA, diverse cultures, and continuous forward momentum. The blended influences of high fashion and streetwear make for an exciting creative energy that pulses throughout the city. Today’s fashion professionals are innovative, cutting edge, and thinking towards the future.The drawback – you can come to New York with a suitcase, a college degree, and a dream, but that’s not always enough to land your first job. Fashion jobs in NYC for junior professionals aren’t hard to find. However, there will always be a substantial amount of competition due to the volume of applicants vying for the same positions. It’s vital to gain real world experience through internships and networking opportunities to start making a name for yourself in the city that never sleeps.

Fashion Jobs in Los Angeles

LA-based designers are growing in numbers, making the City of Angels an up-and-coming player in the fashion industry (and a great place for aspiring fashion professionals to plant roots). Homegrown e-commerce companies are able to manufacture their entire collections in California and sell online. Plus, more and more celebrity-founded brands are popping up in LA, like Savage X Fenty by Rihanna, Good American, and Fabletics. One reason for the boost of fashion jobs in LA: there is much more warehouse space in California than on the tiny island of Manhattan, and that available space is a huge draw for fashion houses and designers. LA even has its own Fashion Week which frequently launches careers for emerging designers. Plus, one major fashion school in Los Angeles is gaining prestige - FIDM. When thinking about style, the SoCal warm weather lifestyle is driven by wellness, leisure and sustainability. Brands incorporate this sensibility into their collections and cater to a more laid back and effortless look, compared to the chic high fashion world of NYC. For junior fashion professionals, it’s very important to consider logistics like cost of living when deciding where to start your career. While the cost of living in NYC has skyrocketed over the past decade, average incomes are only slightly higher. The average rent in Los Angeles is lower than in NYC, and you do have the potential to make an equitable salary. Take that, paired with the dreamy weather, and Los Angeles shapes up to be a pretty great place to jump start your fashion career. But let’s be real—competition is pretty stiff in La La Land. Despite the growth of the industry, the demand for fashion jobs in LA is not as high as it is in NYC and you may struggle with finding a more specialized role.

LA to NYC: Which Location is Right for You?

You need to figure out which city’s culture best suits your lifestyle as well as your goals and expectations for your career. New York has the appeal of a big city. It’s fast-paced and crowded (there are supposedly 26,400 people per square mile) and it’s filled with diverse cultures and influences. Its occupants are known for being career-focused and direct. Los Angeles is highly populated but spread out, leading to a slower city pace. Its fashion and overall ambiance is considered more casual and laid back. You’ll still work hard, but you might be wearing jeans and a t-shirt. And if you’re lucky, you might live near the beach. It all comes down to preference. New York City is generally considered the traditional route for a career in fashion; it has the top fashion schools, top fashion designers and brands, and a variety of specialized careers (plus, you may find the highest paying fashion jobs in NYC). Los Angeles is more of a wild card without such a distinct reputation, but it has space and room for growth. It is a good place to start a budding fashion career, especially for fashion designers and clothing manufacturers hoping to grow a business strictly through influencer marketing and e-commerce. When you do decide where you're headed, be sure to check out Fourth Floor’s Find Work page to find your perfect career match in either city.

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