In the classroom, his name is Todd White, but you might recognize him as LabelsnDollas. The moniker is his username on Twitter and Instagram, but it’s soon to be a household name. His creation of looks for all of Instagram to enjoy has caught the attention of many since he’s enrolled at the Fashion School. The Cincinnati native, now a graduating senior, reflects on life sitting across from me in a Starbucks.
“I don’t even feel like I got the chance to be my creative self in class,” White says.
The Fashion School doesn’t have a styling degree, and that leaves Todd in the dark as far as potentially learning anything to hone his skills, he says. His major is fashion merchandising, and while he’s still looking to finish strong, and he knows school wasn’t the best option.
“My fashion design friends talk about their classes having rubrics, and it’s just not as free flowing as it could be,” White says.
Todd sprang up in the dull embrace of Cincinnati, Ohio, where there’s practically no fashion scene. Now he zips back-and-forth on buses and planes for his internships and styling gigs. Though he’s been in very high places, Todd still doesn’t feel like his style skills are perfect.
“As an artist, I get depressed because I never feel like my work is good,” White says. “It’s hard because I’m constantly beating myself up, but I know I’m built for this, and I have to know nothing matters but my talent.”
Researchers at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute say people in creative professions are eight percent more likely to have a mental illness such as depression, bipolar disorder and other issues. Living in Northeast Ohio doesn’t make the situation any better; with its long cold nights and cloudy days, Kent, Ohio doesn’t ooze inspiration.
“If I didn’t go to school, I would have just signed to an agency, and just worked my ass off to get where I wanted to be,” White says.
Todd describes the styling profession as just creating a lot of work and content in order to be seen. He has also had a lot of success with securing opportunities at New York’s Fashion Week and internships for runway and buying pieces.
The talent of a stylist is about growth. In a recent successful venture, Todd had the chance to work with celebrity stylist Zoe Costello. Working with Flaunt Magazine, Zoe Costello’s work has expanded with working on looks for artists like Bryson Tiller and Quavo, from the rap trio The Migos. Her work has been featured on the cover of Rolling Stone and Complex Magazine.
“I started following Zoe on Instagram about four years before I came to school,” White says. “I would say she was where I am now, and she just worked her way through the industry.”
Todd went to New York City back-and-forth over the summer to aid Zoe with her styling. During that time is when Todd says he realized what it took in order to be a real stylist, and have A-List clients.
“It really showed me you have to be a boss,” White says. “You have to be on your shit at all times.”
He felt the rush of the city but still came back to Kent State to finish his senior year. He’ll be graduating next summer, and he’s taking 18 credit hours this semester. Todd talks a lack of creativity and willingness to collaborate in the northeast region of Ohio.
“There’s a rapper I like who’s local and he has talent, and I want to style him because his style is horrible and no one tells him,” White says. “I just can’t wait to get out of Ohio where people will be more receptive to me and creating. My social media name is ‘LabelsnDollas,’ not because I’m vain, but because I’m inspired by the brands.”
He elaborates on students going into fashion merchandising and wearing clothes that they don’t even know the history of—they just like the name.
“I look at people and I just know they don’t know the history of that designer, let alone have dreams to visit their fashion house or look at that designer’s archives one day, they just wear the name because a rapper or someone famous was wearing it,” White says.
While the fashion industry is a $12 billion dollar business, according to Forbes. Todd says true style is staying true to yourself, and not obsessing over what’s popular or what costs the most.
“If you like black and want to wear that every day, do it,” White says. “I have style, and I wear what makes me comfortable because I’m always working.”
Todd White has come a long way and continues to push further on. Between flights and bus trips to New York City for fashion week, he’s spent all of his time and energy perfecting his craft, and creating looks that the world will remember forever. While graduating from Kent State isn’t his most proud moment, he will be happy to walk across the stage because he’ll finally be shedding the ill-fitting pond of Ohio.