Public School is always described as an inherently New York brand, created by two New Yorkers with a focus on keeping production in the city they were born in, promoting further business and trade. Public School is a brand that was quickly catapulted into recognition.
The brand was started in 2008 by Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne, and ever since its creation has been described as and represented ‘effortlessly cool’ style. They started small, with a limited menswear line for a shop in Miami, but since their participation in the CFDA Fashion Incubator in 2010 (a programme that helps young designers grow), they have been on the rise. They’ve won two CFDA awards for their Menswear designs, been the recipient of a CFDA/Vogue Fund for rising designers and collaborated with the likes of Heineken, Nike and J. Crew. There seems to be no stopping them.
The two designers met when working on label Sean John, and started the brand because of their lack of interest in the clothes available for menswear. Their designs are different from the classic suit and tie that you might expect from a Menswear label, very much on-trend with the athleisure of the moment: a mix of streetwear and sportswear, monochromatic colours and loose, open fits.
Chow described their overall look as ‘muted androgyny,’ and this was present too in the Womenswear line they launched in 2014. Their Womenswear this New York Fashion Week represented classics: trench coats, bomber jackets, floor-length dresses with cinched waists. But the creativity is still present, with the inclusion of features such as sheer panels and drawstring waists cleverly used to excite simple pieces. There really is something for everyone, and the brand’s take on androgynous street style is an exciting portrayal of the blur between ‘mens’ and ‘womens’ style.
Public School Spring 2017 Ready to Wear
Not only are Chow and Osborne steaming ahead themselves, when Donna Karan herself stepped down, they were named as Creative Directors at DKNY, a prestigious position. The appointment granted them a lot of extra awareness, yet the brand have stayed true to their roots. Although their front rows at Fashion Week are crowded with magazine editors and the likes of Anna Wintour, they are a friendly show, allowing fashion students to attend, an often unusual move.
There are, of course, similarities between Chow and Osborne’s collections for DKNY and Public School. Part of it may be the business moves made behind the brand, with the ownership changing hands and therefore heading in a new, less exclusive direction. Chow described their appointment at the time as ‘appealing and scary.’
Between their first collection for DKNY for Spring 2016, and their recent Public School collection for Spring 2017, there are undoubtedly similarities. The sharp tailoring to create interesting silhouettes and occasional pop of colour in a black and white line-up has not changed, but then perhaps that is emblematic of the consistent, stylish clothes that Chow and Osborne decide to produce. It seems they are a bit freer with the Public School designs. More androgynous designs, more inventive cuts and a bolder sense of style. Their production label notwithstanding, Chow and Osborne are designers on the rise, and a streetwear-focused brand to watch out for.
DKNY Spring 2016 Ready to Wear
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