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New Jersey: High Fashion with a Lower Rent

by Amelia Gray
FashionCareerCenter Columnist

Fashion design school students living in New Jersey may already know about New York's garment district and Fashion Avenue. What the fashionable in Jersey might not know is how close they really are to couture.

In a recent New York Post fashion blog bulletin, Raakhee Mirchandani had an urgent message for her readers: "This Karl Lagerfield t-shirt is on sale for $99 at eluxury.com," she said. "At Century 21 in Paramus, N.J. it's $24.99. Seriously." Raakhee goes on to mention that the shirts aren't available at Century 21 stores in New York, and moreover, "the one in Paramus is so, so quiet and much less crowded."

Though the state has long been dismissed by the fashion elite as a state packed with shopping malls and little respect for high style, New Jersey is attracting the attention of New Yorkers used to paying double or triple for designer outfits and accessories. For well-dressed residents of New Jersey, that means great deals on designer clothes, no travel required. For fashion design school students in the area, it means that prospective future clients are beginning to pay close attention to their own backyard.

The Garden State Advantage
Working as a fashion designer in New Jersey has its benefits, including proximity to the New York market, lower prices on materials, and lower rent on boutique spaces. Ray Vincente, a designer based in Trenton, N.J. mixes European style with an urban edge and seems right at home in New Jersey. As the feature designer of Fresh Start, a Trenton-based modeling agency, Vincente specializes in simple, exotic silhouettes for men and women.

If you plan to base your design empire in New Jersey, prepare to travel. Project Runway did: during Season 3 of the hit design show, competing designers were taken to a recycling plant in Northern New Jersey to turn paper products, mylar, and other recyclables into the next trendy design.

Fashion Week in New York is still the hot ticket, and any designer would love to have his or her work featured in the NYC market. For New Jersey designers, getting into that market sometimes means doing the prep work closer to home.

Sources:
"Holiday Wrappings" by Lisa Irizarry for The Star-Ledger
New York Post Fashion Blog
Ray Vincente Fashion

About the Author
Amelia Gray is a teacher and freelance writer in San Marcos, TX. Amelia earned a Bachelor's Degree in English Literature from Arizona State University.