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The Handbook

Going Native With Public School NYC

Going Native With Public School NYC

When asked what their mutual aims were in setting up Public School NYC, the design duo behind the brand, Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow, reply matter-of-factly: "We didn’t have any. We just wanted to make things we wanted to wear." A simple premise, it’s one that has gone on to see them win industry recognition (in the form of awards aplenty) as well as a legion of fans.

Their aesthetic – think contemporary separates rooted in sportswear – is tantamount to the ultimate uniform, so we caught up with the New York natives to find out more about their design ethos.

  • "We just wanted to make things we wanted to wear."
    Public School NYC
  • Going Native With Public School NYC
  • Going Native With Public School NYC
You met working at Sean John; what was it that brought you together and prompted you to set up your own label?

We had a like-mindedness. We both grew up in New York City; we sometimes ran in the same circle. We had the same reference points and had the same energy of being raised in New York City.

You've said that you used to have a feeling of being on the fringe; what effect do you think that had on your creative approach?

Not designing for anyone's acceptance. We were just designing for ourselves.

What was the turning point for you? What has changed personally/creatively since then?

It was when we were selected to participate in the CFDA {Fashion Incubator} programme in 2010. We tweaked our design philosophy and learned we needed to be a bit more restrained. We’re in it for the long haul: it's a marathon not a sprint.

Going Native With Public School NYC
How would you describe the Public School aesthetic?

Finding perfection in imperfection. Sophisticated ease. Effortless.

From where do you draw your greatest inspiration?

Travelling and New York City.

How do you like to see your designs styled?

People find different truths about clothes and what they mean to themselves. We like them to be styled as truthful as possible to the person that's wearing them.

Do you have any personal style icons?

Dao-Yi Chow: Maxwell (the singer).
Maxwell Osborne: Dao-Yi Chow.

New York natives, what's the first thing you do when you return to the city?

Get a Joe's Pizza.

What spots would you recommend to a first-timer in the city?

Dao-Yi Chow: First-timers to NYC should definitely check out the Flower District on 28th Street.
Maxwell Osborne: And ride the trains.