Meeting the most talked about duo of the moment in menswear was not only an unforgettable experience but also a humbling one at that. Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow, the creative minds behind the cutting edge fashion brand based out of New York known as Public School, were incredibly grounded and carried themselves with such an effortless ease. Add in the brand’s incredible aesthetic (which is really an extension of their personal style) and you have the coolest kids on the block.
From the brand’s inception in 2010, and it’s rebirth in 2012 – the duo have seen many challenges along the way, but the success has outweighed the detours and has offered exponential growth for the New-York based duo. “Now, we produce everything in New York City – that’s probably the biggest change. We work with mills exclusively in Italy, Japan and work with some domestically in the States as well. Overall, our production and the quality of the collection has grown. I think we really honed in on what the Public School aesthetic is. It’s building this idea of ease and versatility, along with the concept of mixing tailoring with sportswear.”
“We’re presenting a look that the Public School guy – and now, the girl too – can wear from day to night. You can get dressed in the morning, go to work and then go out at night, all in the same look. I think that’s really how we’ve elevated and how we’ve grown throughout the last few years.”
There’s a lot of emotion in their pieces individually – the details and aesthetic are almost poetic compared to the strength that their collections portray as a whole. The collection can be hard to understand for those out of the NYC street style stars but their collection leaves audiences around the world pining for the lifestyle and the aesthetic it entails. “I think the concept for menswear always started off as an emotional experience for us – when you think about menswear; you wouldn’t think about emotion. We borrowed heavily from womenswear, which is why the transition into womenswear has been so cool for us. A lot of the things that we based the menswear stuff on played through the aesthetic found in womenswear – looking at the silhouette and construction – not just fit and fabric.”
As Dao-Yi starts touching on the simplicity in changing perceptions and ideologies, and goes into explaining the mash-up and convergence of tailoring and sportswear, it’s evident how much their perspective on the world and their values lie within their brand. “It’s really how you put the collection together that it can start speaking to you. Individually, the pieces are cool but, you know, it’s about the styling: how you layer the pieces, mixing the high with the low and looking at how the fabrics combine with one other. That’s when the collection comes alive, through the look and the attitude.”
The diversity in both the designers’ and their customer’s world stretch into music as well with artists like SBTRKT, ASAP Rocky and Twin Shadows on the top of their playlists. “Twin Shadows scored all of our presentations and runway shows, they’re really huge fans of ours. We’ve been really lucky to get the support we have gotten. It’s really cool when it’s artists and bands that we listen to and they’re out there rocking our clothes.” The concept of structure and versatility has garnered many loyal and devoted cliental including the likes of James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem, Kendrick Lamar, Jay-Z and Mick Jagger. “I mean, someone sent us a picture of Mick Jagger in one of our jackets. That was so cool man. It can’t get better than that.”
Holt Renfrew has seen their Spring 2014 line virtually sell out. Their Autumn/Winter 2014 collection is a riveting continuation of their aesthetic and wearable pieces featuring sweaters, pants and jackets; a collection deemed perfectly fit for the style-conscious yet practical Vancouver man. With multiple collaborations in the works, expansion of their brand offerings and presence, along with their steadily rapid growth amongst the market place; there’s no denying the power behind Public School.
When we ended our interview and posed for a quick photo op, I couldn’t help but call them out on how serious they always look in photos. With laughter and pointing to a very serious Maxwell; Dao-Yi goes, “What are you talking about? We love to smile. Look at that mean mug.”
A big thank you to Carla and the incredible team of Holt Renfrew Vancouver for hosting us.
Words by Ghazal Elhaei
Photos courtesy of Public School NYC and Viranlly Liemena.