Despite the limitations of academic dress, it’s hard to deny that Deerfield students know how to look good. In fact, having “drip” is such a priority of our student body that we not only have one student-led fashion Instagram account but three, each one featuring well-dressed students in their own unique way.
The first, and perhaps the most well known student-run fashion initiative, is BeyondTheValley. Founded by recent graduate, Devin Trice ’21, who currently attends the Fashion Institute of Technology, BeyondTheValley is an official publication, equipped with a budget and faculty advisor. In the past, they’ve even had an online blog, which they hope to revive in the near future. Current club co-president Hunter Pulliam ’22 wants to make it known that BeyondTheValley is way more than just an Instagram account. When asked in what ways BeyondTheValley is different from any other student-run fashion initiatives on campus, her answer was simple: “I’d say that it’s the only real one.” Shots fired.
However, after having a monopoly in the Deerfield fashion reporting industry since 2017, just in the last few weeks, there’s been not one, but two new student-run fashion initiatives joining Instagram. In the Valley, started by a group of primarily junior boys who refer to themselves as “the Founding Fathers,” is one of these accounts, and among this group is Tom Spater ’23, who had lots to say surrounding the account’s origin story.
When asked what the inspiration behind In the Valley was, Tom said, “I’m pretty good friends with Osegie, who’s on the board of this other account you may have heard of, BeyondTheValley. Basically, he and I got into an argument one day about who was better dressed. Obviously, I said [it was] myself because that’s an objective fact on the matter. We decided to have a competition: 7 days, who had a better fit, and we put a poll on BeyondTheValley’s story. Of course, I won like five days in a row until I started feeling kind of bad for him, and we stopped. Basically, in math class one day, my friend Owen Clifford [’23] said to me, ‘We’re better dressed than him; why should he run this account? We should start our own.’ And In the Valley was born.”
Already accumulating over 300 followers on Instagram, it certainly didn’t take long for the account to grow in popularity; however, not everyone was thrilled with In The Valley’s rapid success. When asked about how she felt after hearing about In the Valley, Pulliam said, “I thought it was a joke.” Commenting on behalf of BeyondTheValley’s co-president, Osegie Osayimwen ’23, she said, “I know Osegie was kind of — I don’t know if I can say pissed in this — so I’ll say annoyed.”
Spater and the rest of the Founding Fathers aren’t the only ones attempting to imitate BeyondTheValley. Just a few days after In The Valley was launched, a third student-run fashion account, Transcend The Valley, began requesting students.
Replying over Instagram DM’s, Transcend The Valley made its mission statement clear:
“We want to show outfits that wouldn’t be shown on these other accounts. We don’t see a point in labeling or listing brands, putting a number value on style. We also don’t want to post ‘trendy’ clothes. Not that there’s anything wrong with dressing with the trends, we just don’t feel that they express a person’s unique style.” Additionally, they pointed out what they felt was another flaw with the accounts: who’s included and who’s not. “The people who are frequently featured on these other accounts are typically more well-known on campus, but we hope to recognize those who may not be as well-known but still have great style. Besides, it’s fairly obvious that most things on campus are popularity based.”
When asked about what makes In the Valley different from the other fashion accounts, Spater replied similarly, “We’re much more engaged with our audience and we will post anybody who wants to be posted. You just have to approach us and we’ll post you.” They’ve been able to accomplish this through the creation of their “Fresh Fit Friday” movement (although, who actually coined the term “fresh fit friday” seems still up to debate, Osayimwen claims he originated it his freshman year. ).
Despite the ongoing tensions of the rivalry, between in and beyond the valley, Spater and Pulliam can agree on one thing, “May the best account win.”