Stefan Kohli ’18 photographer, blogger and arbiter of style

Stefan Kohli may have a lot of clothes, but doesn’t buy them often. He will occasionally  stop at stores, but he mostly trades with friends, finds pieces at thrift shops or gets free clothes from companies he works for. Hailing from Arizona, Stefan went to school at Philips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire and is now a freshman at Colby. Kohli stands out with an understated but fascinating style that is hard to ignore. His involvement with fashion also goes deeper than what you may see him wearing around campus.

Kohli’s sense of style has been developing through different life phases and questionable trends. “I’ve had a mind on [fashion] since probably seventh grade. I think it was a skewed or strange view though,” he said, adding that current trends dictated his style. After making it through an influx of pocket tees and fitted caps, Kohli used his life experiences to create a personal look.

Observation is the key for Kohli to create a style inspired but not based on others. He takes frequent trips to New York City and draws inspiration from sites like Hype Beast—a popular website featuring youth culture relating to streetwear and fashion. Kohli also “looks at as many look books and editorials as possible…saving photos [he] think[s] look cool and taking elements of what [he] sees to create an idea book.”

While his style used to be centered around specific pieces of clothing, like a favorite pair of argyle socks, now Kohli says it’s “more about the ensemble in general” combining pieces to create “a more professional look while still keeping it fashionable and young.”

Kohli describes his style as High Street Fashion, which combines streetwear and traditional fashion. Elements of urban wear and prep emerge through a unique and simple modern look. He sees no need to drop hundreds  of dollars on the freshest styles, citing that a few of his favorite pieces are an old tie-dyed basketball camp t-shirt and an Angels snapback from childhood.

Surprisingly from a person who loves seeing expression via clothing, Kohli says he “loved having a dress code” in high school. Exeter called for a shirt and tie for boys and nice blouses, trousers or skirts for girls. Within these loose guidelines, Kohli appreciated the ways students took liberties to express themselves.

To honor student’s styles, he merged his interest in fashion and photography, founding a blog called The Exeter Dress Code. The blog featured students with stylish and interesting outfits. “When I first did this it was to see what people were wearing and share it with other people,” he said. He began to see more meaning in the photos he took for the blog, beyond showcasing a sharply dressed student, “the point was not to focus on brand clothing, but how people are expressing themselves through their clothing”.

Kohli also helped run an on campus thrift store called The Exeter Exchange, which sold student donations of clothes and dorm supplies. This allowed students to affordably refresh their style and dorms with other’s unwanted items.

“The way people dress could show experiences they have had and represent their life. You can have an emotional representation of where you have been [through fashion]” he said.

Kohli also shares fashion via his work for a variety of companies as a photographer. He picked up shoots by offering his work to some of his favorite brands and stores, like a Boston shop called Bodega. Through high school, Kohli worked with Pharrell William’s company Billionaire Boys Club, Quiet Life and even had a photo featured by Canada Goose. On getting into fashion photography, Kohli said “The point of photography is to tell a story, and I wanted to do that through clothes.”

Like his outfits, which he says he creates with simple thought, shoots are not extensively planned out. “I do it all on the fly. I have images in mind that I want to capture, but ultimately my best photos come randomly or unintentionally,” he said. “Responding to change and dealing with the unexpected when taking photos can produce the best shots.”

Keep an eye out for Stefan around campus rocking a funky pair of socks connecting pinrolled pants to New Balance kicks. With unique clothes incorporated into a clean style, we can all draw inspiration from Stephan Kohli. He confesses that he could not tell you if something matches but advises “wearing what you like and what you think looks good.”

Visit photokohli.com to view his work.

Comments are closed.