The teenagers at Phillips Exeter Academy have some serious runway game. Mimicking the preppy style of a J.Crew catalogue, they sport couture items and mix and match prints with ease.
The Exeter Issue is an Instagram account that showcases the best dressed students at the most elite boarding school in America. Inspired by the viral Instagram account Humans of New York, The Exeter Issue features street portraits and interviews gathered on campus.
In 2016, we spoke with The Exeter Issue’s founder Rachel Luo, now a college freshman, about the blog’s inspiration.
'People often tell me that their goal before they graduate is to be featured on The Exeter Issue,' Rachel Luo told Business Insider before graduating from Philips Exeter Academy.
In fall 2014, the Houston native set out to create a fashion blog at her school. She wanted to give the portraits, which she mostly shot, more depth by adding quotes from her subjects.
She recruited a handful of fashionable peers to form The Board, which helps identify students and later votes on whose threads make it to Facebook and Instagram.
Today, when a board member spots a particularly dapper student walking across campus or sitting in class, they text the group's photographer, who arranges an impromptu shoot.
The board member or photographer asks the student their name, year, and a little bit about themselves, and uses the most pithy quote in the caption for Facebook and Instagram.
Founded in 1781, Phillips Exeter Academy has a reputation for exclusivity. Only 19% of applicants are admitted, and tuition costs a whopping $50,888 a year.
Still, the school's commitment to diversity and its $1 billion endowment, which helps cover costs for students from low-income families, brings in teenagers from all walks of life.
'You see a lot of Timberlands in the winter and a whole bunch of Vineyard Vines come spring,' Luo said. The Exeter Issue only features those 'ordinary' looks occasionally.
The Exeter Issue gives students a chance to be vulnerable. 'I'm kind of scared for the future -- college and getting a job and whatnot,' said Chris Agard, who graduated in 2017. 'But I've learned that it's ok to be scared and even though I am I can still enjoy the ride.'
Sophia Oguri, a senior, shared a commitment to reaching outside of her social circle. 'I have never been in a community that is this loving, even amidst everything going on in the world today, and I want to be sure to take full advantage of it,' Oguri said.
Fellow senior Erica Hogan writes for the school newspaper, The Exonian. 'It lets me interact with people I otherwise would never talk to,' Hogan told the Exeter Issue.
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