Heroes of Menswear: Public School

Designers Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne have an innate understanding of how men want to dress today, blending a streetwear obsession with their interpretation of New York City tailoring.

For their latest collection, the duo partnered with Cadillac for a dual presentation in Dubai. “If you think about the luxury consumer, they’re fairly sophisticated and aren’t really interested in being engaged in a traditional way,” Andrew Smith, Cadillac’s Executive Director of Design, explains, “It’s about resonating with their lifestyle, their choices, and their personal aspirations.” With that in mind, we quizzed Chow and Osborne on the state of menswear right now — and how it feels totally disrupting it.

Why did you want to show your Pre-Fall 2016 collection in Dubai?

Chow: Concept-wise, it matched up with the collection. Our designs play into the contrast between technology and nature, where one ends and the other begins. And when you think about Dubai — this huge city in the middle of the desert — it’s a great example of how those two slash into one. It was a weird match that turned out to be a perfect backdrop.

Car design and fashion design seem like very different beasts, not least because while you’re working five months in advance, Cadillac is working five years ahead. How do you think about that timing, and what can you learn from each other?

Osborne: We went to the Cadillac design offices in Detroit and they showed us everything from sketches to the finished product and how long the process was to build the XT5. The same way we build our season, they build out theirs: they have mood boards, they project and forecast all their colours. We’ve been to their factory rooms and saw their leathers and wood trims, and it’s how we would treat trim or zippers. Our turnaround is a lot faster, but it’s the exact same process.


Do you want your designs to be internationally focused, or do you want them to be seen as American?

Chow: The connection between being American designers and trying to reach people globally definitely is something we think about all the time. Public School is a new example — if you think about American designers, you have Ralph Lauren and Donna Karan and Calvin Klein. We consider ourselves the new generation, which includes a more global view.

When you design, what do you strive for? What’s the story behind it?

Osborne: It’s the idea of new luxury. For us, Public School is a mixture of high and low and the idea of conversions. We use New York as our backbone; it’s a melting pot for the world. We always try to mix the idea of high and low within luxury and everything that New York is. For example, being on the train in New York City, you can stand next to a billionaire and a homeless person. That’s what Public School is. With the proportions of fabrics, the pricing, the layering, everything about Public School is that. It’s the idea of New York and the idea of a global citizen.