Designer brands may be everyday and ordinary in the fashion world, but to young, aspiring professionals, where first impressions mean their chance at success — their opinions on designer labels are ambiguous, to say the least.

This week on DNA, Derrick Ashong brought up the question: does personal style define success, specifically in regards to designer labels?


“There’s certainly a feeling of security that people derive from [designer labels],” Nora Abousteit told Derrick.

Abousteit is co-founder of, a DIY fashion community. However, she argued that designer labels don’t guarantee happiness.


We visited Miami International University of Art and Design where fashion is much more than clothes, it’s a college major. And in order to graduate, students must have their portfolio reviewed. However, it’s not just the portfolio that is being evaluated. Their outfits are under scrutiny as well.

“In a job interview, the first moments when you walk through the door they already have an idea about you,” says Charlene Parsons, chair of the Fashion Design, Fashion Merchandising and Accessory Design programs at the school.

Parsons has been involved in the fashion industry for over 35 years. She is a former model and fashion show producer for major designers including Christian Dior and Oscar de la Renta.

Despite her experience with well-known designers, she says it’s not the brand or designer that determines what others perceive of an individual. It’s how that person wears their clothes.


“We want students to understand that the way they’re dressing says something about them,” she says. “Just today we had a young lady come in for her portfolio review with a wrinkled blouse and slacks. Immediately, everyone’s eyes in the room went to the wrinkles.”

While Parsons agrees that designer merchandise doesn’t make or break a person, she’s noticed a new trend in today’s generation.


“Designer shoes and hand-bags are the in-thing. Walk into a Michael Kors store or Macy’s and all you see is accessories. That’s where all the money is coming from.”

Parsons might be right.

As of now, Michael Kors, known for its fashionable handbags and watches, is worth $15.5 billion, according to Peter Lattman of Dealbook. The company is now more valuable than iconic fashion giant, Ralph Lauren.


So even to professionals within the industry, it’s not the label that makes the person. And to aspiring professionals, they say labels don’t matter on clothes.

But what about handbags, accessories, and shoes? Well, then it's designer everything.

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